Sean Ervine could be ready to make a shock return to the Hampshire side for their Natwest T20 Blast quarter-final.
The popular Zimbabwean all-rounder has been named in the 15-man squad for today’s trip to Worcestershire (5.30pm) as the Ageas Bowl outfit attempt to reach an unprecedented sixth straight finals day appearance.
Ervine fractured a finger while batting in the Championship defeat to Somerset back in June and has been sidelined for two months.
But after he was given the all-clear by the medics, first-team coach Dale Benkenstein is tempted to throw him straight back into the side – especially as Ervine hit a century on his playing return for the seconds this week.
Benkenstein said: ‘I think Sean is okay.
‘This week has been quite important and he has played some intense cricket.
‘But he’s got the all-clear from the doctor and had to see if he could play cricket again.
‘The finger has healed – it’s just a bit sore.
‘But there is a good chance that he might play.’
While it would be a risk to put him straight back into the side for such a high-profile game, it underlines his importance to the team.
Worcestershire have been given clearance to field England star Moeen Ali but are sweating on the fitness of Hampshire nemesis Daryl Mitchell, who picked up a recent hamstring injury.
And although the home side are chasing a first visit to Edgbaston for the finals day, Benkenstein believes his team are outsiders.
He said: ‘I don’t see us as favourites – not at all. I think Worcester are favourites.
‘They were top of their league and we’ve scraped in.
‘We have that experience of getting to finals day and they haven’t.
‘They are a good side and they’ll be desperate to win as they have never been to a finals day, whereas we have.
‘So there will also be a bit of extra pressure for them.
‘They have got a good set-up on their home ground but we have a lot of deep inner-confidence in this team so I’m pretty confident we can do well.
‘It will definitely have a bearing that Moeen is back for them.
‘He is a quality player.’
There are several selection decisions to make with Liam Dawson’s recent form also pushing him into the frame.
Benkenstein said: ‘Daws is in great form and where we want him to be.
‘It is the type of cricket we expect from him.
‘He hasn’t played in the t20 for us this year so he hasn’t been able to show that ability.
‘He is a match-winner and he will definitely add to our side in the quarter-final.’