Former England man still in Hampshire frame

Owais Shah. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
Owais Shah. Picture: Dave Vokes/LMI Photography
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Owais Shah has been told he still has a part to play in Hampshire’s Natwest T20 Blast campaign.

The former England man was surprisingly left out of the side that defeated Gloucestershire by just two runs last Friday.

The 35-year-old currently leads the Hampshire t20 batting averages with 74.50 – although that has been inflated by three not outs – having scored 149 runs in five innings.

But he was deemed surplus to requirements in the last fixture as Danny Briggs returned to the line-up and Hampshire went with an extra bowler in their ranks.

Shah has impressed during his stint with the club but selection has become more competitive lately, with Michael Carberry back from England duty and the recent arrival of Glenn Maxwell.

With Liam Dawson closing in on a return to fitness after a recent groin problem, the battle for places is set to become even more intense.

But with an unchanged 12-man squad selected for tonight’s clash, much will depend on the pitch at Sophia Gardens on how the balance of the side will be.

Will Smith or Matt Coles may make way for Shah – or one of the top-order batsman may be handed a breather after a hectic recent schedule of fixtures.

Coach Dale Benkenstein is delighted to make the tough decisions and believes Shah will still stick around.

Benkenstein said: ‘Owais will be around for the whole of the t20 but he may not play all of the matches.

‘I find it very hard to leave him out.

‘But it’s a fantastic position to be in with Michael Carberry coming back, Liam Dawson and Glenn Maxwell to choose from. Whoever sits out would not have done anything wrong.

‘Maxwell has come in 
and he has got to play and Shah is a match-winner. It’s tough.

‘Whoever doesn’t play will be disappointed but it’s a chance for them to have a rest – especially the ones who are playing in all forms.’

Skipper James Vince added: ‘It’s tough to leave someone like Owais out but he came in when we were missing a few and that’s the way it is.

‘Sometimes having the extra bowler is crucial.’