Birthday-boy Liam Dawson has become the latest Hampshire player to commit his future to the county, saying: This is an exciting new era for the club.
The all-rounder, who turned 22 today, made it a double celebration this week by signing a one-year contract extension.
He joins James Tomlinson and David Balcombe in agreeing new deals as Hampshire look to put last season’s relegation from County Championship division one behind them and bounce back up at the first attempt.
And Dawson, who will remain at the Ageas Bowl until the end of the 2013 season, believes it is an exciting time for the county.
He said: ‘I’ve got at least two more years at the club now and was very happy to sign the deal – hopefully we can push on this season and get back into division one.
‘We’ve got a young group of players and a very exciting group.
‘If all these young lads can stick around for five or six years we could do very well.
‘It’s a young but experienced squad. The younger guys have played a lot of matches and we also have older heads in Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry, Simon Katich and Dimi Mascarenhas who have a crucial part to play.
‘We have got to be confident – it’s an exciting time and a new era for the club.
‘We are all good enough, no matter what age we are, but we have no doubts it’s going to be a tough year in division two.’
It has been a busy winter for Dawson as he prepares for the new English season.
Having played for Zimbabwean first-class side Mountaineers before Christmas, the former England under-19 player then spent six-and-a-half weeks experiencing grade cricket in Australia with Dandenong.
His four matches in the Victorian Premier League saw him showcase both facets of his game.
‘It was a really good experience and it was great to get some cricket under my belt before the start of the new season,’ he said.
‘Grade cricket out there is a really good standard and it’s a tough competition to play in.
‘I managed to bowl a few overs and get a few runs, which should stand me in good stead.’
Looking ahead to Hampshire’s Championship campaign, which begins on April 12, he added: ‘I’m not massively into targets but if we can be up near the top of division two at the end of the season and challenging then that will be a good achievement.’
– LEE JONES