Both Hampshire and Essex have suffered last minute wicket-keeping selection problems ahead of tonight's Friends Life t20 clash at The Rose Bowl.
Nic Pothas will be absent for the Royals while visiting captain, James Foster is suspended for the game, which begins at at 7:00pm.
Pothas underwent an emergency appendix operation last night (read more here) having suffered from stomach pains for a few days, so Michael Bates has been called up to deputise in his absence.
Apart from that, Manager Giles White charges the same side as that which has done so well in recent games to get another victory.
Overseas star Shahid Afridi continues to look down on the rest of the bowlers in the competition with an average of a wicket every 6.3 balls he bowls – that’s nearly one in every over for the Royals – and an economy of just 4.55.
With the bat, Hampshire now have three players to have made it past the 200 runs mark in Neil McKenzie (264), James Vince (247) and Jimmy Adams (238) with Michael Lumb three runs away from the milestone having played two fewer games.
The Royals currently sit top of the table with 18 points from their first 12 games.
The Eagles, meanwhile, also lost their wicketkeeper just last night when the England and Wales Cricket Board released a statement announcing that Foster has been suspended with immediate effect.
It follows a number of reports of misconduct regarding several Essex players for which the captain has been held responsible. Adam Wheater is expected to deputise behind the stumps with Ravi Bopara taking over captaincy duties.
Essex have done very well since the last meeting between these two sides, beating Somerset on Monday evening to make it two wins in three days. Mark Pettini made 81 from 52 balls (with eight fours and three sixes) while Bopara cracked 72 from 42 deliveries (with eight fours and a six) to beat the Sabres by 65 runs.
Having already seen the results, first-hand of a slogging Tim Southee (the new Zealander top-scored with 74 against the Royals at Chelmsford), Hampshire will have to be watchful if Essex are to once again open up with the all-rounder. And while he’s not always effective with the bat, Southee is a consistent danger with the ball as he showed in the reverse fixtures with three wickets in 3.3 overs.
Coupled with the deadly all-round ability of Dutch International Ryan ten Doeschate (who took 3-18 against Somerset) the two teams should be set up for a great contest between bat & ball.
And sitting, as they do, in a cluster of five teams closely bunched together behind Hampshire, Essex will be keen to register a win so they don’t fall behind!
This article was written for Hampshire CCC and featured on the club website.