Coles return adds heat to Hampshire clash

James Vince, right, and former Hampshire team-mate Matt Coles, third left. Picture: Neil Marshall
James Vince, right, and former Hampshire team-mate Matt Coles, third left. Picture: Neil Marshall
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James Vince has warned his Hampshire team-mates that they must be wary of their former player in tonight’s Natwest Blast T20 showdown with Kent (Ageas Bowl, 7pm).

Matt Coles surprisingly left the Ageas Bowl over the winter after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent.

There were never any questions about his ability

James Vince

At the time, the reason given was that Coles was unable to settle in the area and returned to his native Kent but there were also suggestions of disciplinary incidents, which have never been confirmed.

But the talented all-rounder was an important player for the club in all formats last season.

He was a significant figure in the Hampshire side which reached the semi-finals of last year’s competition, taking 18 wickets along the way and contributing with some big-hitting in the late order.

And the Hampshire t20 skipper knows how good a player Coles can be when he gets his game together.

Vince said: ‘Matt will be eager to put in a good performance against us with bat and ball.

‘We know what to expect from him.

‘He does a good job in the t20 with the change up in his pace that he has got and he is dangerous with the bat.

‘There were never any questions about his ability.

‘If he gets his head down and works hard he can be a handful for any side.

‘Matt Coles is not their only dangerous player.

‘Maybe Kent have gone under the radar as a side but they are not to be taken lightly.

‘Kent got off to a winning start and they have a few good players who can change the course of a t20 match.

‘They have more than one guy who on their day can win a game on their own. We will have to be on the money again.’

Hampshire made an impressive start to their latest t20 campaign with a 17-run success over Essex last Friday.

But it has been a slow start to their Championship campaign and Vince is hopeful further t20 results can lift their four-day efforts.

He said: ‘We beat Essex last week in our first match and everyone contributed to us winning. It felt like the old Hampshire once more.

‘I am sure we can take that into other forms of the game. Winning can be a habit.’

Hampshire will be waiting on the fitness of Fidel Edwards, who is a doubt after picking up a shoulder problem in the drawn Championship clash with Middlesex this week.

Vince said: ‘For us in recent games including the t20 last week when he took a wicket, that is as quick as I have seen.

‘It is nice to have someone of that speed available.

‘When Fidel bowls at real pace he is a massive threat and keeps the opposition on the back foot from the first ball.’