Tommo targets top-flight return

Hampshire bowler James Tomlinson
Hampshire bowler James Tomlinson
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James Tomlinson has targeted a flying start to next summer after Hampshire’s 2013 fixtures were released.

The Ageas Bowl outfit will kick-off the new campaign on April 10 with a Championship division two home clash with Leicestershire, before entertaining Worcestershire on April 24.

While Hampshire’s home form in four-day cricket has been anything but impressive in recent years, the long-serving bowler is confident the team improved last term as they finished fourth.

And he believes they can transfer their limited-overs success to the longer version of the game next season.

Tomlinson said: ‘It’s good to start at home for the first couple of games.

‘It will be a good opportunity to get some momentum and hopefully use our home advantage to beat Leicester and Worcester.

‘We want to get off to a good start because that’s what every club is looking to do and we haven’t managed to do that in recent years.

‘The home form only slightly improved last season but I thought we played some good cricket.

‘We played on good wickets and there was something there for the bowlers.

‘It was a change for the better but the results didn’t quite improve enough.

‘If we start the season well and can finish well, we will be in a good place.’

As reigning champions in the two limited overs competitions, the Royals know they will be a major scalp and will begin their defence of the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition at Essex on May 3 – the day after the two sides’ Championship clash ends.

And their quest to reach another Friends Life t20 finals day at Edgbaston next year will begin at home to Surrey on June 26.

While 2012 was a memorable season in the shorter formats, Tomlinson is eager to taste success in the four-day game.

He said: ‘Last year we were quite average at times but yet we still had a chance to go up in the Championship.

‘I remember at Leicester, last season, if we had won that game we would have gone second with three games to go.

‘But I think that doing so well in the other two competitions meant that one had to suffer and the Championship suffered a bit.

‘We want to put that right next season.’

Hampshire will wrap up the 2013 season with a four-day clash against Essex (September 24-27).

But aside from the domestic fixtures, the Ageas Bowl will be hosting England on several occasions this summer.

Alastair Cook’s men will face New Zealand (June 2) and Australia (September 16) in 50-over showdowns.

And there will be an international t20 double header on August 29 as both the men’s and women’s teams host their Australian counterparts in quick succession.