Michael Carberry insisted the return of Dimi Mascarenhas is a welcome spark to Hampshire’s hopes and declared: He’s still one of the best around.
The former England all-rounder has recently returned from a stint with Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.
He came back in a blaze of glory in the nine-wicket win at Somerset in the CB40 at the weekend.
He took two wickets for just 17 runs from eight overs to prevent the Somerset innings ever getting off the ground.
It made a mockery of the fact he was underused by his IPL franchise – playing just four games in total.
But team-mate Carberry, who will bid to build on his outstanding ton at Taunton in this evening’s home tie with Nottinghamshire, believes Punjab’s loss is Hampshire’s gain.
He reckons the wily 34-year-old has come back refreshed and ready to add his extensive experience to the Hampshire cause.
‘Dimi is one of our most experienced bowlers,’ said Carberry.
‘He’s been around the circuit a long time and he knows what to do.
‘For me, he is still one of the best bowlers going around the circuit.
‘He sets the tone for us and is a yardstick for the younger bowlers on how to shut the scoreboard down in one-day cricket.
‘If you keep the pressure on, the wickets will come.
‘It doesn’t matter how dangerous their line-up is, if you put the ball on a good line and length you’ve got a chance.’
Considering Mascarenhas himself was concerned over his long-standing Achilles problem towards the end of last season, he did not appear to be showing any ill-effects from the injury during his bowling masterclass at Taunton.
‘He looks great,’ said Royals batsman Carberry.
‘He’s been back with us a few days and was really up for the Somerset game.
‘He trained hard during the four-day game against Glamorgan to get himself ready and he looks fit and strong.
‘Fingers crossed, we can keep him fit for the season because I think he will be a vital player for us.’
Carberry will spearhead the Royals’ attempt to make it four wins out of four in this year’s 40-over competition as they host Nottinghamshire in a day-night game at the Ageas Bowl this evening.
And the left-hander is relishing his chance back at the top of the order, having been batting at number three in the Championship.
He said: ‘It’s something I’ve spoken to the coaches about over the winter – about going back up top to get more opportunities to score hundreds. I really enjoy it.
‘For the first couple of years I came to Hampshire, I was very successful at the top of the order and it worked quite nicely.
‘Myself and Jimmy (Adams) have batted a lot over the years and it’s a nice combination.
‘It’s nice to be back playing and I’m enjoying my cricket.
‘Over the years we’ve been playing some good one-day cricket.
‘We haven’t been successful in this particular competition over the years but we’re improving as a one-day side.
‘Not too long ago we won the 50-over competition [Friends Provident Trophy] and we won the t20 in the past couple of years.
‘Our younger players naturally thrive in the one-day game, so it looks good for the future.’