County cricket crack with Hampshire excites South African Adrian Birrell
Adrian Birrell looked ahead to his first season in county cricket and declared: I cannot wait to get going.
And the South African is delighted his chance has come with a club famous with a number of his counterparts.
The former Ireland head coach and Proteas assistant was announced as Craig White’s replacement back in December.
Preparations for the new season have been cranked up over the past few months, with Hampshire travelling to La Manga for a pre-season tour.
And with the club’s County Championship season opener against Essex on April 5 drawing closer, Birrell is excited.
It will provide the South African a first taste of the English domestic game – as a player or coach.
And the next chapter excites the 58-year-old.
Birrell, inset, said: ‘I lived in Ireland for nines years and coached them.
‘I’ve coached England in the development programme and age groups.
‘There has been a link in that way and I really loved my times with the EDP.
‘I’m delighted Hampshire offered me the opportunity to be in the county scene.
‘There is a history of South Africans playing in Hampshire and that attracted me to the club.
‘I followed Hampshire right from when Barry Richards was playing here, then the Smiths and more recently Nic Pothas, Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn.
‘Jimmy Cook and Dale Benkenstein have also been coaches, so there’s been a long history with South Africa and Hampshire.’
Hampshire are reigning Royal London One-Day Cup champions but Birrell is eyeing County Championship improvement.
The Ageas Bowl outfit have failed to finish higher than fifth since returning to division one in 2015.
Birrell added: ‘I want to compete in all formats.
‘We’re a very good white-ball team and have been for some time.
‘The red-ball team are in the top division and fifth out of 18 is not too bad.
‘The expectations are that we should win every year.
‘But in 156 years Hampshire have won it twice.
‘It’s something that I hope to focus on in the next couple of years.
‘There is a very good T20 team.
‘It’s about continuing with what’s been done well.
‘But try to improve in the red-ball, where we can do better.’