Hampshire start t20 campaign with clean slate

Yasir Arafat

Yasir Arafat

Chris Stone

Havant relish quest for double joy

  • Hampshire play Essex in opening t20 Blast match
  • Edwards and Arafat set to make debuts
  • Wheater faces late fitness test
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The County Championship division one side open their south division campaign against Essex Eagles at the Ageas Bowl this evening (7pm).

The standard of the other teams is very high so we’re going to have to be at our best to qualify again

Giles White

And despite Hampshire’s strong showing in the short format over a number of years, White is taking nothing for granted as his side bid to make an unprecedented sixth consecutive finals day.

Having endured a difficult start to life in the top tier of the County Championship, a win tonight would boost morale in the camp.

White said: ‘It would be nice to reach another finals day.

‘We’ve got good pedigree in this competition and over the years we’ve been the most consistent performers.

‘As with every year, we start from scratch.

‘The standard of the other teams is very high so we’re going to have to be at our best to qualify again.

‘Everyone’s looking forward to the t20 campaign.

‘We’ve played a fair amount of four-day cricket already so it gives us an opportunity to get going with the white ball.

‘We’ve found a pattern of play that’s worked for us so it’s important that we find that pattern in the first couple of games.’

The Eagles could be tricky opponents to face in the opening encounter, though.

They finished top of the south division last season but lost in the quarter-finals of the competition to eventual winners Birmingham Bears.

This year, Essex have added to their pace attack with the signing of Australian fast-bowler Shaun Tait, who returns to the club after a successful spell back in 2013.

‘Essex have notoriously been a strong side in the competition,’ said White.

‘It’s always a tough game against them.

‘Shaun Tait is an experienced fast bowler and he’s got a good reputation for bowling yorkers.

‘We’re evenly-matched sides so it depends on who performs on the day.

‘Hopefully being on home turf and having the advantage can give us the right result.’

White believes Hampshire’s camaraderie will be key to maintaining their excellent t20 run.

‘A key ingredient to our success is the togetherness in the squad,’ added White.

‘The players support each other and they’ve got an attitude that they never know when they’re beaten.

‘A lot of the players have played together for a while and can draw on their experiences, knowing they’ve done it before.’

The t20 squad will have a slightly different look to it tomorrow.

Renowned Pakistan Test bowler Yasir Arafat is set to make his debut after arriving in the winter.

West Indies bowler Fidel Edwards is also set to feature, alongside Owais Shah.

Meanwhile, Chris Wood returns to the first-team squad, as does Jimmy Adams, who is back following the birth of his second child..

White confirmed a late decision will be made on the fitness of wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, who missed Hampshire’s defeat to Yorkshire through injury. Youngster Lewis McManus is on standby to replace Wheater.

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