Australian seamer Nathan Ellis swaps Indian Premier League for T20 Blast inside a week as he prepares to make Hampshire debut

From Mumbai to the outskirts of Eastleigh in less than a week, that’s the journey Nathan Ellis is making ahead of his Hampshire debut.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:57 pm

The 27-year-old Australian international seamer was playing for the Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League last Sunday.

Now he is preparing for his first taste of English county action in Hampshire’s T20 Blast opener against Middlesex at The Ageas Bowl on Friday.

Ellis and his fellow countryman Ben McDermott are the county’s two overseas players for the 20th staging of the 20-over competition.

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Nathan Ellis should make his Hampshire debut in Friday's T20 Blast opener against Middlesex at The Ageas Bowl. Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images.

The pair last played together in early April, for Australia in a one-off T20 international against Pakistan in Lahore.

Ellis grabbed 4-28 while McDermott, batting at No 7, was unbeaten on 22 as their country won by three wickets.

Prior to that, both had played for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Australian Big Bash League.

Last year, Hampshire’s two overseas T20 imports were Australian opener D’Arcy Short and New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.

But with a stronger looking batting line-up this year - following the signing of Ross Whiteley and the return from injury of Aneurin Donald - the county decided to beef up their seam bowling attack.

‘We wanted to bring in a seam bowler,’ said Hampshire coach Adrian Birrell. ‘We didn’t feel we needed a batting all-rounder.

‘We feel we’ve got a strong squad, but there will be a lot of strong teams.’

Chris Wood - like Whiteley, on a white ball only contract - has been playing in the recent T20 2nd XI tournament to build up match fitness. The seamer is Hampshire’s leading wicket-taker in T20 history, with 150.

Seamer Brad Wheal and spinner Mason Crane have returned from red ball loan spells at Gloucestershire and Sussex respectively, and - according to Birrell - are ‘in the mix’ to face Middlesex.

Young Scott Currie - Hampshire’s leading T20 wicket-taker in 2019 with 19 victims - has yet to play in the 2nd XI T20 event this year due to a ‘niggling’ injury.

Whiteley, though, is in form - the former Worcestershire man struck an unbeaten 43 off 17 balls in a T20 2nd XI win against Middlesex at The Ageas Bowl Nursery Ground yesterday.

Young Tom Prest - who impressed in his first taste of senior T20 action last summer - ended unbeaten on 73 (off 50 balls) against Middlesex, sharing an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 64 with Whiteley in just 4.4 overs.

With McDermott due to keep wicket, Ben Brown is expected to sit out the T20 fixtures. Others who have helped Hampshire win four of their opening six Championship games taking an expected rest - until the first class competition returns on June 12 - are Keith Barker, Kyle Abbott, Nick Gubbins, Ian Holland and Felix Organ.

Joe Weatherley - who enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 campaign in terms of the shortest format - made his comeback from a hand injury in today’s T20 2nd XI game against Sussex at Horsham.

McDermott had been hoping to play today, but was waiting for Cricket Australia to sign off the required forms.

Hampshire (possible, v Middlesex): Vince, McDermott, Donald, Weatherley, Whiteley, Dawson, Fuller, Ellis, Wood, Wheal, Prest/Crane.