DIRECTOR of cricket Giles White rates the current Hampshire squad as the strongest since he’s been at the Ageas Bowl.
The team has been boosted by the inclusion of South Africans Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw along with the return of Aussie George Bailey, who will skipper the County Championship side.
Hampshire suffered a traumatic time last season finishing in a relegation spot in division one of the County Championship.
They were saved by Durham’s financial problems that saw the Emirates Riverside outfit demoted to the second division.
With new recruits bolstering the Ageas Bowl dressing room, White is hoping for a polar opposite of last season.
‘Every year we do our preparation and are optimistic about the season ahead,’ said White.
‘This year is no different and in terms of the squad it looks very strong to me.
‘We have made a few signings of high quality over the winter.
‘Rilee Rossouw is a left-handed South African batsman with a very good record and a very gifted player.
‘At the age of 27 he is an exciting player in all formats of the game.
‘Kyle Abbott is another well-known international player who will add strength in depth to our bowling attack.
‘It is the strongest squad we have had here in my time.
‘But it is all about performing and doing the job out on the pitch.
‘If we can keep the guys on the pitch then I think it bodes well for the season.
‘Our biggest issue in the last couple of years has been with injuries.’
White will also be optimistic Hampshire can regain some of their past glories in one-day cricket as they disappointed in the t20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup last summer.
White though was encouraged by the performances of some of the young players who were given their chance.
But he also recognised how competitive the new campaign will be.
White added: ‘What encouraged me about last season was the fact that at no time did the players not give it everything,
‘They were trying times but it did give the opportunity for some of our good home-grown players to show their talents.
‘We will be looking for those players to blossom even more. It is a very competitive league and we will need to play good cricket.’
– KEVIN RICKETTS