Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hampshire Comment: Finding a Balance

One of the biggest challenges for any county cricket club is having a squad that can be competitive in all three disciplines of the game. Counties at least can recruit high-profile overseas players for the Friends Life T20 tournament, ensuring exciting cricket for packed houses and TV audiences alike.

The other two disciplines need to be considered as well though, with the LV County Championship still the cornerstone of the English domestic game ad Clydesdale Bank 40 overs cricket offering participants another chance of silverware.

For Hampshire, their 4-day game has come up short  in recent years whilst failure in the CB40 format has really only left the Friends Life T20 tournament as a possible avenue to success, one they took in 2010 of course. 

It was perhaps refreshing then that the Royals hit the ground running in the aforementioned 40 over competition, beating Glamorgan by 48 runs via Duckworth-Lewis in their first match of the campaign on Monday.

Michael Carberry (60) and James Vince (83) drove Hampshire home at the Ageas Bowl with a 142 run opening partnership which had the watching faithful asking, why can't they do that in LV Division Two matches? 

Of course the disciplines are different, of course they are. The white ball comes onto the bat harder, the use of power plays, the field restrictions are all factors, but when these two batted on Monday with skill and class it highlighted the talent Hampshire possess in the batting department - if only it could be demonstrated more consistently in championship matches. 

Well, maybe this will be Hampshire's week against Derbyshire in their LV Division Two match starting at the Ageas Bowl today, but they will have to do without the in-form Carberry as he is in the England Lions squad for the match against the West Indies starting at Wantage Road tomorrow - a richly deserved recall for the man who hasn't played for his country since suffering a blood clot returning from England's tour of Bangladesh in 2009.

Wantage Road of course was the venue for Hampshire's latest LV Division Two defeat as they were bowled out 117 runs short of their target by the Steelbacks. Loose bowling on day three and a lack of batting partnerships cost the Royals  and left them languishing in sixth place in the league. 

David Balcombe, in such fine form with the ball so far in 2012, spoke earlier this year about what he was doing differently to last season to make him such a prolific bowler this time out. "I'm just trying to be disciplined and try and do the right things. I haven't been thinking about taking wickets this year, I've just been trying to bowl dots and bowl maidens."

Hampshire's whole attack need to remember this going into the match with Derbyshire, undefeated this season and scoring lots of runs to boot.

It's a challenge, but no one ever expected it to be anything but, did they?

Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

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