New-boy Tino Best is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Hampshire’s Barbadian legends Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall after joining the injury-plagued county.
The fast bowler, who has played 25 Test matches for the West Indies, was drafted in by director of cricket Giles White to replace compatriot Fidel Edwards – who broke his leg while playing football in a warm-up a fortnight ago.
The fast-bowler is in line to play his maiden first-class game since December when Hampshire host Middlesex in County Championship division one tomorrow.
He warmed up for that game by taking a wicket with his first delivery for Hampshire in a second XI match against Somerset this week.
Best said: ‘In pre-season Fidel told me to come and bowl a few balls at the boys.
‘I like county cricket and wanted to get back into it – and when I was given the opportunity I just jumped on the plane and came.
‘I want to come in and bowl as fast as I can and hopefully I can impact the team.
‘I am relishing the opportunity. It is an honour to represent the same club as Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall.
‘Everyone expected me to be the next Malcolm Marshall when I was younger, it was a lot of pressure.
‘I’m like a kid in a candy shop and can’t wait to start going.
‘I’m really happy and blessed. Cricket is my first love.’
Hampshire have been boosted by news that Sean Ervine, Chris Wood, Liam Dawson and Jimmy Adams – who scored a ton for the seconds on his return from an ankle problem – will all be fit to play this week.
But all-rounder Brad Taylor is the latest player to be ruled out through injury after he sustained an ankle sprain during the second XI match against Somerset.
White said: ‘Tino has settled in well – he played for the second team this week and he bowled with pace and skill and he showed that he is ready to play.
‘There have been some good individual performances in the first two matches and that’s something to build on, but as always we’ll look to keep improving and get some results on the board.
‘We are up against another strong side this week in Middlesex, but we feel in good form and we are ready to take them on.’
Play starts at 11am tomorrow.
– ALEX SMITH