GILES WHITE has spoken of his excitement following the release of Hampshire’s 2016 fixture list and is relishing opening up on home turf.
The Ageas Bowl outfit will begin their County Championship division one campaign with the visit of Warwickshire on April 10 before a trip to defending four-day champions Yorkshire a week later.
And director of cricket White feels the squad coach Dale Benkenstein has assembled is ready to challenge in all formats of the game, including the Natwest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.
He said: ‘We are looking forward to the season.
‘I think we are a nicely-balanced side for all forms of the game.
‘We have got a nice squad blend of youth and experience which every team looks for, so I am excited for the season.
‘And I am hopeful it will be one we will be very competitive in.
‘Every season you want to get off to a good start – every side will say the same.
‘We are lucky enough to be going to Barbados on a pre-season training camp and will hope for good weather to come back to and go straight into a home game against Warwickshire.
‘It’s nice to play at home first. We will know what we are getting from the pitch and will be used to the conditions.
‘We will be in and around the ground in the lead up to it, so certainly it will do us no harm in the first game.’
Hampshire’s toughest fixture on paper is second up as they travel to defending champions Yorkshire – a game White believes will be a good barometer of where the team are at.
Benkenstein’s men secured survival on the final day of last season but are in no mood to repeat that trick when Durham visit in mid-September.
White said: ‘Yorkshire are a good side but if we are fit and playing well then we are a match for anyone in the division – we saw that towards the end of last season.
‘That will be the challenge for the players and the coaching staff ahead of the season. There is so much cricket prior to the last game of the season against Durham, though, that you don’t really look that far ahead.
‘Hopefully we might be (challenging at) the other end, you never know!’
And with nine floodlit games to enjoy at Ageas Bowl, White is expecting more fantastic nights and great atmospheres under the lights.
White said: ‘The Ageas Bowl is a great place to play night cricket.
‘The players really look forward to the one-day games under the lights.’