Hampshire county cricket: Liam Dawson's lofty ambitions with a "squad good enough to win in all formats"

A Hampshire allrounder is aiming to challenge on all fronts with a squad that he believes is good enough to win it all.
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Liam Dawson is coming off a busy and successful winter where he featured in the Big Bash and ILT20, before playing a prominent role in winning the SA20 with the Eastern Cape. The 34-year-old allrounder is now eager to get the English season started with Hampshire opening their County Championship campaign away to Durham on Friday, April 5.

Hampshire allrounder Liam Dawson believes the squad have enough strength to challenge in all formats in 2024.Hampshire allrounder Liam Dawson believes the squad have enough strength to challenge in all formats in 2024.
Hampshire allrounder Liam Dawson believes the squad have enough strength to challenge in all formats in 2024.

The 2023 season proved to be a fruitful one for Dawson, especially in the County Championship where he picked up 840 runs and 49 wickets, the most wickets taken by an English spinner in the season. Despite that, he was overlooked by England's selectors for The Ashes last summer, as well as their tour of India at the start of this year.

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Dawson is not taking his form through last season, or in franchise cricket in the winter, for granted. He said: "What's gone is gone, you cant look at what you have done. Pre-season has gone ok so hopefully will get to Durham and do well."

Hampshire have finished third two years in a row in the County Championship, with Surrey taking the top spot both times. While Dawson believes Surrey are still the team to beat, it is also a stronger Division One this year with a number of teams capable of contending. Dawson said: "I think they are the favourites but also the division this year is a lot stronger than what it has been over the last couple of years.

"Durham look a really good team, Essex are always up there, and I think Lancashire will be a good team this year with Nathan Lyon. The division looks good but we play some good cricket as well. Hopefully if we can turn a few of those losses into the odd draw or two that will potentially make us win it. "

Hampshire won the same amount of games as Surrey last year but lost two more than them. To take that next step, Hampshire are looking to ensure the tight games go their way. Dawson said: "I think it is purely that, if we turn those losses in to draws, you lose two less games, get a couple more draws and then that puts you very close to winning it, because we won as many games as Surrey did. I think that's a big thing for us as a group, not losing as many games and trying to get a couple more draws."

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Hampshire have proven themselves to be competitive on all formats. They have reached the T20 Blast finals day more than any other team, reaching it 10 times including winning it in 2022 and losing in the semi-final last year. They also reached the final of the One Day Cup last year before narrowly losing in the final. The team is once again looking to challenge on all fronts and Dawson is aiming for all three titles.

He said: "When you play at a club like Hampshire you want to compete in all three formats and win in all three formats. There is no certain competition that we target, we talk every season about competing and trying to win all three. We have a good enough squad to do it and I think over the last five years we have been one of the most consistent teams in the country to compete in all formats and put ourselves in position to win things. That's a real positive for the club and that is something that this club will continue to do."

The first Vitality County Championship game starts on Friday, April 5 away to Durham at the Seat Unique Riverside stadium. While the teams first home game at the newly named Utilita Bowl, takes place between Friday, April 12 and Monday, April 15 as they take on Lancashire. Tickets are available via the website.

The white ball season kicks off with the Vitality Blast on Thursday, May 30 with a home game against Surrey. Further information and ticket sales can be found here. The Metro Bank One Day Cup starts on Friday, July 26 when Hampshire will take on Northants at the Utilita Bowl.

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