Coach backs bowlers to deliver

Matt Coles. Picture: Neil Marshall

Matt Coles. Picture: Neil Marshall

Chris Stone

Havant relish quest for double joy

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Dale Benkenstein has told Hampshire’s bowlers: Don’t expect the pitch to do your work for you.

The new first-team coach saw his bowling unit struggle against Worcestershire in their opening Championship clash of the campaign that petered out into a draw.

Hampshire’s batsmen were under pressure in their innings as the Worcestershire bowlers reduced them to 28 for three and 106 for five as they made the most of the conditions.

But when the visitors batted, admittedly in conditions more batter-friendly, Hampshire’s attack toiled, with only Matt Coles (three for 58) enjoying any real success.

That raised concerns the Ageas Bowl pitch does not offer enough assistance for the bowlers. But Benkenstein believes the onus should be on the bowlers as they prepare for their next Championship clash at Gloucestershire, which starts on Sunday.

Benkenstein said: ‘I need more evidence in competitive games.

‘But my feeling is that Test bowlers bowl on very flat wickets and they manage to bowl sides out.

‘I know they have an extra day but they are also bowling against the best batters in the world.

‘I still believe if your proper bowlers really believe it, they will get wickets on any surface. They will find a way.

‘Good captains also create wickets and opportunities and I want the players to believe that.

‘We’ve a good surface and a few years ago, everyone was moaning about it because nobody could bat on it.

‘They have got that right and I think it’s a good thing because you are going to produce good cricketers.

‘You are going to produce bowlers who know they have to bowl really well on a good wicket and batters will have confidence to play their shots.

‘That will ultimately produce Test players.

‘Winning is important, but I would say it goes jointly with producing players who are good enough to play for England.

‘You have to be a bit careful when you side with winning becoming everything because it can be to the detriment of the young players.

‘Bowlers start to think they are very good because they land the ball and get wickets.

‘But I’m not that concerned at the moment.’

Hampshire travel to Bristol boosted by the arrival of their overseas player, Kyle Abbott, who is set to make his debut.

He looks most likely to replace David Balcombe, who struggled for rhythm and form in the first game of the campaign as he returned figures of nought for 76 from 12 overs.

And the South African fast bowler is determined to make an impact.

He said: ‘I’ve heard many good things about the club from the likes of Neil McKenzie, Immy Tahir and Friedel De Wet.

‘They are a great one-day side and hopefully I can contribute to that as well.

‘It’s a fairly young bowling attack and hopefully I can pass on little tips that I’ve learnt along the way.

‘I’ve always tried to take myself out of my comfort zone.

‘Players perform at their best when they have new challenges and that’s exactly how I see this.

‘But I’m looking forward to getting started.

‘At the age I am at now, I feel I am getting to the peak of my bowling and I’ll be looking to do well.’

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