Cricket comeback bid if long overdue

The News' cricket writer Rob Atkins gives his take on the bid for the return of Hampshire to Portsmouth...

Friday, 21st July 2017, 12:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:38 am

The prospect of Hampshire’s finest cricketers taking guard in Portsmouth again is exciting.

And there’s no doubt a serious bid for their return is long overdue.

I just hope Cllr Scott Harris, the Portsmouth Sports Council and city council do not underestimate the challenges they may face.

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I used to love watching the county play at May’s Bounty in Basingstoke when I was a child.

Seeing the likes of Malcolm Marshall and Robin Smith locking horns with Test rivals Desmond Haynes and Allan Donald was one thing.

But witnessing players of that ilk doing battle in the intimate surroundings of a quaint, club ground was something else entirely.

You were so close, you felt like part of the action. It was inspirational to say the least.

But for this bid to be successful and pay off in the long run, it is important to retain a sense of perspective.

Pitching for a second-team fixture is an ideal opener – friendlies are often restricted to pre-season and international touring sides, with neither likely to move from the Ageas Bowl.

But the long-term goal has to be getting the first team on the island.

And that may represent a bigger headache, with no wicket in the city of first-class quality.

Significant time and investment is required to address that problem and it should be investigated right away if we are to welcome James Vince & Co in 2020 – let alone earlier.

For now, though, it’s just great to see top-class cricket back on the city’s agenda.