Door open for Ervine return

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Hampshire have left the door open for Sean Ervine to return as a second overseas player for this year’s Friends Provident t20.

The Zimbabwean all-rounder will leave the club after the Caribbean t20 tournament to resume his international career.

He will have to become an overseas player if a return to the Rose Bowl is made.

With Imran Tahir already confirmed at the club’s one overseas player for the forthcoming Championship season, Ervine effectively ruled himself out when he agreed to return for Zimbabwe.

But the Friends Provident t20 permits two overseas players – with Abdul Razzaq and Dan Christian eventually filling the roles last season – and Ervine could yet make a part-time return as Hampshire bid to defend their trophy.

Rose Bowl chairman Rod Bransgrove said: ‘In terms of an extra overseas player playing in the t20 this season, Sean is among a list of other targets that we are looking at to play specific roles.

‘At this stage, I wouldn’t rule it out and I wouldn’t rule it in.

‘I’m sure there’s a chance and he is bound to be one of the options that Giles (White) is looking at.

‘Obviously, we’re sorry that Sean is leaving.

‘We understand why he is going – he wants to maximise his opportunities of playing international cricket.

‘We wish him well. He’s been a big part of the Hampshire family and we wish him all the best when he’s playing for Zimbabwe.’

The balance of the Hampshire side could be significantly changed if they are without the two recognised all-rounders who have served the club so well in recent times.

Skipper Dimi Mascarenhas played just one game last term because of an Achilles problem and it’s still doubtful whether he will return in time for the start of the new campaign.

But ahead of tonight’s final Caribbean t20 clash with Trinidad & Tobago (8pm), Bransgrove insists the club will not rush into finding replacements and could yet promote from within as the crop of young players continue to impress.

He said: ‘We always said we needed a squad for all occasions and to cover all circumstances.

‘The situation regarding Dimi’s injury is not quite clear at the moment.

‘We could start the season with neither of our previous all-rounders, so we will be looking at the squad on how we fill those gaps.

‘Giles has been looking at that and has a few ideas on how we will address that.

‘Not too many players become available at this time of the year.

‘I’m not looking at anyone specifically at the moment.

‘We are examining the squad and we’ve seen that it has continued to develop in terms of strength and experience.

‘We have seven bright, young players in the squad now, all of whom have had first-team experience. They have demonstrated they can play a bit.

‘I don’t think we will be too thin on the ground when we all re-assemble in March.