Hampshire play their first home T20 match in nearly two weeks when they take on Gloucestershire at The Rose Bowl on Friday night.
Having fitted in four away trips (to Gloucestershire, Somerset, Glamorgan and Essex) in that time, it will be the home fans’ first chance to see a side that has changed in a few considerable respects from that which beat Glamorgan by two wickets in their last home fixture.
Shahid Afridi, for one, will play his first home game for the Royals having now overcome his differences with the PCB. It will also be Rose Bowl fans’ first chance to see Sean Ervine in a T20 shirt as he was injured for the start of the campaign.
Simon Jones and Michael Lumb will be absent in another change from the squad which took on the Dragons. The former is away on loan at the Welsh county while the latter could be in action for England against Sri Lanka in the NatWest International Twenty20 match at their visitor’s home ground of Bristol.
Kabir Ali joins the squad as an extra pace option in Jones’ absence and may well be called upon should conditions suit him (as was the case when Jones, himself, bowled against Kent in the five-over shoot off at Tunbridge Wells).
With the potential for some cloud in between sunny spells forecast, the bit of swing Ali is able to add to his deliveries could come into play.
The Opposition:The Gladiators arrive at the Rose Bowl off the back of an eight wicket hiding at the hands of Kent, having only been able to muster up a single win in the Friends Life t20 so far. Hampshire, in fact, are one of the teams to have beaten them (by nine runs at Gloucester two weeks ago), despite a good performance from captain, Alex Gidman.
However, the good news for Royals fans is that the skipper will miss the trip to the South Coast having sustained a quad injury earlier in the week. Kane Williamson will lead the team in his absence.
Of course, plenty of attention will rightly be on their overseas star – one of world cricket’s all-time greats, Muttiah Muralitharan. But, despite the presence of the bowling great, Ed Young is the leading wicket taker for the Gladiators. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler has taken 7 wickets in his first year in the competition so far at an economy of 6.72.
This article was written for the Hampshire CCC and is available in full on the official club website.