County previews March 30, 2013

Hampshire can add to one-day glory

Hampshire are one-day kings but they can also add promotion to their CV

Last year: 4th, CC Div 2; Winners, FLt20; Winners, CB40.

2012 in a nutshell: Excellent in limited-overs cricket and mediocre in the Championship. Hampshire won the limited-overs double in 2012 and, with three games to play in the Championship season, were in a promotion position. They lost all three (against Leicestershire, Essex and Derbyshire) and slipped into mid-table. They topped their CB40 group with seven wins from 10 completed matches and then defeated Sussex and, in the final, Warwickshire off the last ball to lift the trophy. In the T20 they reached finals day in Cardiff, beating Somerset in a low-scoring semi-final and outwitting Yorkshire in the final. Glenn Maxwell proved an astute signing, with slow bowlers Liam Dawson and Danny Briggs maintaining excellent control and Dimitri Mascarenhas providing a reminder of his excellence as a T20 cricketer.

2013 prospects: Hampshire should continue to challenge in the shorter formats and must be considered one of the promotion favourites. Their top-order batting, containing Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry, overseas player George Bailey and, from June, Neil McKenzie, is as strong as any in Division Two. Adam Wheater, Sean Ervine and James Vince will add impetus while Liam Dawson will be asked to bat long and slow. The bowling is, at first glance, slightly less impressive but, led by David Balcombe, strong as a bull and determined to make up for lost time in his career, and the left-arm swing of James Tomlinson, it will also be augmented by the spin of Saeed Ajaml for the last few weeks of the season. Having won four limited-overs trophies in the last four years, they clearly have a decent formula and there is little reason why that should change .

Key player: Signing Adam Wheater as a wicketkeeper batsman was somewhat controversial. Not only did Wheater have a year of his contract to run at Essex, but his arrival threatens the position of Michael Bates, a homegrown Hampshire keeper who has made such a fine impression with the gloves. But Wheater, at 23, only eight months older than Bates, is a vastly superior batsman - he averages 20 more an innings - and will add depth to Hampshire's batting line-up.

Bright young thing: Such is James Vince's talent that the England selectors ignored his largely unsuccessful season in Division Two last year - he averaged 24.52 and only passed 50 once - and took him on the Lions' one-day tour to Australia. He struggled there but, at 22, remains a talented and unusually elegant young batsman, capable of scoring freely against decent bowling. His strength, at present, remains in the limited-overs formats - he averaged 55.50 in the CB40 and was Hampshire's leading run-scorer in the FLt20 - but if he can curb his attacking instincts just a little, he can flourish in all formats.

Captain / coach: Jimmy Adams will continue to lead the side in a positive, cheerful manner, leaving Giles White, the head coach, to continue in unobtrusive style. The days when Hampshire could rely upon being bankrolled by Rod Bransgrove are gone - it didn't really work, anyway - leaving the club more reliant on player development. They seem stronger for it.

ESPNcricinfo verdict: Hampshire look capable of winning promotion this year. The batting is unusually strong and the acquisition of Saeed Ajmal on late-season pitches is a major scoop. The one concern is the pre-Ajmal bowling attack which, with the heavy roller back in operation this year, may face some long days in the field. It won't be easy to follow up a double-winning season, but Hampshire should continue to be a threat in the shorter formats.

Read our supporters' network preview on Hampshire. ESPNcricinfo will be publishing a fan blog for each of the 18 counties as we build up to the 2013 season

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Toby on April 1, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    Wheater's average may be 20 runs higher, but how does his average compare when you take out the (considerable) runs he has scored in Zimbabwe? Judging by the performance of the youngsters from Derbyshire over there this season, I'd wager Bates would have a couple more career centuries under his belt if he'd spent some time playing at a slightly lower level like that. No doubt Wheater is the better bat, but not by as much as statistics imply.

  • Joshua on April 1, 2013, 10:02 GMT

    I struggle to fathom what it is some Hampshire supporters want from the club. Back in 2011 we bought a squad that on the face of it should have challenged for the Championship. People bemoaned the fact that local players produced by the academy were not getting a game, instead being kept out by players in search of a pay cheque.

    Fast forward 18 months, we have a local captain, 13 players produced directly from the academy (most automatic picks in the CC side) and two trophies to defend. Yet the team are accused of not having ambition because we didn't get promoted last year. To compound this, the Wheater signing gets shot down in flames when he will clearly be a brilliant addition to the squad, because he isn't local.

    Giles White has put together a very good squad, one that has the county at heart but fierce competition for places. Give me that any day over the apparent 'ideal' which is basically a cosy club.

  • Dummy4 on March 31, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    Always pick the better glovesman - Godfery Evans (he knew a bit about keeping wicket)

  • Richard on March 31, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    its not a popular view these days but I'd take the superior glove skills of Bates over Wheater's batting every time (Bates batting has definitely improved in any event). Particularly in the shorter format his ability to stand up to the faster bowlers combined with his relationship with Briggs makes him a must play to me.

    If Wheater's batting is good enough then play him as a batsman but I would be very very disappointed if Bates gloves skills alone can't get him in the team. I'm utterly convinced his influence in saving runs/contributing to taking wickets outweighs any batting deficiencies.

  • George on March 30, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    @ageas Apart from the one in the first paragraph?

  • David on March 30, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    Surprised that there's no mention of Danny Briggs as one of the contributors to 2013 success after his major role in 2012, and his tour with England