‘Strong’ Hampshire squad eyeing silverware on three fronts

Adrian Birrell is excited to see what Hampshire can achieve this season.

Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 2:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd April 2019, 2:12 pm
Hampshire first-team manager Adrian Birrell. Picture by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

And the club’s South African first-team manager can see no sign of weakness in the squad ahead of a new campaign.

Hampshire begin their quest for glory when Essex visit the Ageas Bowl in the County Championship on Friday (11am).

Several changes have been made over the winter, with Birrell replacing Craig White as first-team manager.

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Jimmy Adams has also taken up an assistant coaching role following his retirement while Sean Ervine and Reece Topley have both departed.

But Aneurin Donald, Keith Barker and James Fuller have arrived from Glamorgan, Warwickshire and Middlesex respectively to bolster the squad.

Meanwhile, South African batsman Aiden Markram has replaced Sri Lankan Dimuth Karunaratne as the overseas player for the first part of the season.

Now Birrell reckons Hampshire are ready to fight for silverware on three fronts.

And the South African can see no sign of weakness within his squad.

He said: ‘When you pencil down a team, you look at ours and think, “that is a good team”.

‘But other teams are also good.

‘We’re playing Essex to start the season.

‘You look at them on paper and you look at Yorkshire on paper and they’re both very strong teams.

‘There’s good balance in the squad and there’s a good balance between white-ball and red-ball specialists, if you like.

‘There’s good experience.

‘We’ve three spinners, a battery of fast-bowlers, a couple of left-armers, quality batters and two good wicketkeepers.

‘There’s nothing in the squad where I can say there’s a weakness, it looks pretty strong to me.

‘We want to try to compete in all formats.’

Experienced Birrell is taking a role in county cricket for the first time as a player or coach.

But he believes previous challenges will stand him in good stead for what could be thrown up in England.

He added: ‘It’s not my first gig, I’ll be drawing on past experiences.

I’m not young anymore, most of the coaches will be younger than me.

‘I’ve had a life in cricket which I’m very thankful for.

‘Cricket is only given to a privileged few.

‘There are many coaches who would like to be sat where I am.’