Shah’s chance to earn Hampshire stay

Owais Shah is dismissed in a previous clash with Sussex
Owais Shah is dismissed in a previous clash with Sussex
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Sam Northeast during the press conference at the Ageas Bowl on Friday. Picture:

Northeast: I can realise my dreams with Hampshire

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Owais Shah will be given an opportunity to earn an extended stay with Hampshire as he makes his debut tonight.

The former England batsman has joined the Natwest T20 Blast cause for at least the next three games, starting at Sussex this evening, to help plug the gaps in the batting line-up.

Michael Carberry is on England duty, while Liam Dawson suffered a groin injury – that is expected to keep him out for the next six weeks – in the defeat to Glamorgan last week.

Shah, who left Essex last season, has indicated he would like to stay at the club for the whole competition.

And director of cricket, Giles White, is prepared to see how things pan out and didn’t rule out the 35-year-old being offered a chance in other formats, too.

White said: ‘He is obviously a quality player and we have lost a few, so it’s great to bring someone in who can give us a bit of X factor.

‘Owais will be here for at least the next three games, then we will review to see where we are.

‘Glenn Maxwell will be here at the beginning of June, Michael Carberry might be back and Liam Dawson might be fit by then. We will re-assess at that point.

‘To have someone like Owais available and ready to play is a real boost for us.’

Shah certainly has the pedigree to make a difference to the Hampshire side that looked some way short of their best in their curtain-raiser.

He played six Test matches for England, 71 one-day internationals and 17 t20 internationals.

His t20 record is impressive with an average of 33.77 and a strike rate of 126.37.

White said: ‘He has often played well against us.

‘But his record speaks for itself. He averages 33 and a strike rate of 126 – that is up there with the very best t20 players.

‘He has got that experience and hopefully he can produce the results he’s had over the past few years.

‘He has been good around the group so we will see how it pans out.

‘We are very open-minded and will see how Owais is getting on and whether he is enjoying it, too.’

Shah struck two half-centuries in four t20 games for the seconds this week and will go straight into the side at number four.

White said: ‘He batted at four, batted nicely and looks in good form.

‘The idea is that he is most comfortable at number four and that seems the right fit for us.’

While Hampshire made a poor start to the competition in last week’s defeat by 10 runs, White believes it will take time for the new team to evolve.

He said: ‘In t20, they are all one-off games. You find a new pattern with a slightly different group of players – that’s what we’ve done over the years.

‘The team has evolved and changed and it’s changing again.

‘We are missing a couple of players who have been around for a long time in Dimi (Mascarenhas) and Macca (Neil McKenzie).

‘New players come in and it takes a little bit of time to settle into their roles and how we play our cricket.’