Hampshire were dealt a double blow today with the news that club captain Dimitri Mascarenhas and club vice captain Nic Pothas have been ruled out of the rest of the season with injuries. Mascarenhas' is due to continued problems with the injury he picked up in the IPL. Though he has only bowled 3 overs for us this season in half a 20/20 innings, the loss is still a major one as it was hoped that maybe he could return very soon. Pothas' season is over due to the problem that initially ruled him out of the Sussex match at the last moment. This again is a huge loss as we lose our most experienced Hampshire player on the field, plus a valuable run-getter and a good leader. It would be all to easy at this point to cry that the season is over, nothing has gone right for us (Afridi, Mendis, Lee etc etc), but I won't do that. Hampshire must play on and to be honest it shouldn't be a killer blow. In terms of the starting XI Mascarenhas' news is not a major disruption, as explained above - he wasn't in the team at any point anyway. Pothas' place will be filled by Bates the 19 year old, who impressed so much behind the stumps at short notice against Sussex on Sunday. The risk attached of course is that Bates has not had a chance as of yet to show that he can score the runs at this level, though if his second XI form is anything to go by he should more than hold his own at 7.
What will be needed urgently is a rather large fan installed at the Pavillion End as the double loss means that Cork will have to play every single game if he is to be captain. I really like Cork as a captain. He sticks to his plans well but also he can be proactive in the field with his placements and bowling choices. He also captains with conviction. In the match against Kent he stuck with his strike bowlers as wickets continued to fall, none of them providing a release for the under-siege Kent batsmen. When it looked like victory was on the horizon, the extra halfhour was taken to make sure the job was done in 3 days. Cork won't be alone in the decision making either. McKenzie appears to have become Cork's partner in crime it seems, and it was noticeable that Cork seeked the opinion of the former Lions captain a few times during the Sussex match about tactics. Plus there are Adams and Slug in the side, Adams with much experience captaining the seconds.
I see that Riazuddin has been named in the 12 man squad to play Kent on Sunday. As one of only 4 primary bowlers in the squad, I assume he will start with Benham carrying the drinks. It was a shame to see no Tommo or Griff in the squad, but if Riazuddin is chomping at the bit to play, and Tommo is saving himself up for the Lancashire Championship match next Thursday, then I don't see a problem. It would have been good to have seen Tommo and Wood continue their developing opening partnership in the 40 over league but the decision has been made. The funny thing will be, Cork could happily be the dad of any of the other three main bowlers that should take to the field on Sunday (Riazuddin, Briggs and Wood). I guess it reflects both on Cork's Duracell inner-self, and the excellence of the Hampshire academy, surely currently the best in the country. Lumb should return to the top of the order, and will be deperate for runs of any kind to get his season kick started. The rest of the order at least is pretty much set, McKenzie providing the engine in the middle, with hopefully Vince and Slug to play the acceleration and finishing roles. Carberry will want to continue his fine form, most likely at 3 and with Bates at 7 that makes up the team for the Kent match.
With pretty much no-one else left fit in the squad, I expect a very similar XI to turn out against the Red Rose county, though with Tommo in for Wood, and maybe Griff in for Riazuddin if fit.
It will be okay
3 months ago