Hampshire set to face former star Sam Northeast in huge County Championship title battle at The Ageas Bowl
He started the season aiming to help Hampshire to their first County Championship title for almost half a century.
Now batsman Sam Northeast is returning to The Ageas Bowl determined to do all he can to STOP the county’s glory bid and boost his own chances of a maiden first class winners’ medal.
Northeast left Hampshire in mid-season to join Yorkshire on loan after scoring 2,105 first class runs for the county at 36.92. But following just four runs in two innings in two first-class games for the Tykes, and after leaving the south coast by mutual consent, he joined Nottinghamshire.
Notts have won both of the Division 1 games he has played to move into pole position to win both the title and a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
A third successive win at The Ageas Bowl, in a game starting on Sunday, would put Notts – who lead Hampshire and Yorkshire by 10 and a half points, in an excellent place. Similarly, if Hampshire could follow up their victory at Warwickshire with another triumph they would enter their final fixture, at Lancashire, in pole position to claim only a third Championship success in 125 years.
Northeast, who played in Hampshire’s first eight Championship group games of 2021, compiling 358 runs at 32.54, top scored in the first innings of Notts’ win against Lancashire earlier this week, hitting 65.
It would be a remarkable tale if Notts did win the title for the seventh time. Two years ago, they finished bottom of the top tier in the two-division Championship - failing to win and losing 10 of their 14 games.
But the ECB’s decision to postpone a return to two tier cricket, due to the pandemic, could spectacularly work in Notts’ favour. Equally, they could win the title and still play in Division 2 in 2022 if the two-division format is brought back!
Hampshire won at Edgbaston earlier in the week after being skittled for just 89 in their first innings. Indeed, they have yet to collect a batting bonus point in their two Division 1 games so far.
Notts boast the Championship’s leading wicket-taker in 2021 - Luke Fletcher having taken 59 wickets (eight more than anyone else) at 13.79. In South African seamer Dane Paterson, they also have the eighth highest wicket-taker (with 43 victims).
Hampshire, under skipper James Vince, are chasing a place in the county’s history books.
Due to the fact they will contest the T20 Blast Finals Day at Edgbaston on September 18, they have a chance to win two - or even possibly three! - trophies in a season for the first time ever. The top two teams in Division 1 of the Championship will contest the Bob Willis Trophy final at headquarters.
Hampshire will hope to welcome back Kyle Abbott - their leading Championship wicket-taker with 46 victims - after the South African missed the Warwickshire success with a foot injury.