For Australian cricket fans the Hampshire County Cricket Club has been one of the most noted in recent history. From the year 2000 until 2008 Shane Warne, on and off, was part of the playing squad – latterly as captain. The presence of Warne no doubt also encouraged the partnership with his IPL team the Rajasthan Royals. As well, Hampshire was home, until recently, of Kevin Pieterson, a talent and persona that raises the hackles of Australians.
Hampshire’s home ground since 2001 has been the ‘Rose Bowl’ that has regularly hosted international and domestic limited-overs tournaments with great success.
But glitzy and high profile cricketers have never been far from Hampshire. C.B. Fry in the early part of the 20th century was a phenomenal cricketer for both Hampshire and England. Fry was a renowned academic as well as being known for his eccentricity. From 1985 until 1995 the team was captained by Mark Nicholas who is now more famed for his hosting of cricket coverage on both Australian and English television.
The county had a rather stuttering start in first-class cricket. Prior to the creation of the County Championship in 1890, Hampshire, created in 1863, had been granted first-class status in 1864 before having it removed in 1886. It was not until the 1895 season that the county was reinstated as first-class and allowed to enter the championship.
It did have the exciting services of Fry and other individuals during the period, however up until the outbreak of war in 1939 Hampshire saw little on-field success. Hampshire finally won a championship in 1961 and followed up with a second in 1973. The 1973 championship was won on the back of a batting order containing International stars Gordon Greenidge (the leading run-scorer that season) and Barry Richards as the opening pair.
During the 1980s and into the 1990s success continued for Hampshire, albeit only in the limited overs competition. This success was for a team including the great West Indian fast bowler, and one of the greatest of all time, Malcolm Marshall. Marshall was later to return to the club as coach and was in this role when he passed away of cancer, aged only 37.
Probably in some instances influenced by the Warne factor, Hampshire has become a modern haven for Australian players. Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark, Matthew Hayden, Andy Bichel, Simon Katich as well as Warne make up, for a single county, a reasonable proportion of Australian test players in the past 10 years. Hughes famously has made some great scores for Hampshire prior to playing in the 2009 Ashes series where he was less successful.
Glamorgan is the only county that is located beyond the borders of England. In Southern Wales, Glamorgan has taken great pride in being a pseudo national side. Of great pride has been the county’s ability to have defeated all international touring teams they have played at least once. In a country more obsessed with its Rugby fortunes, such victories gave the lesser sport of cricket a patriotic lift.
The county was admitted to the championship in 1921 after having competed in the Minor Counties Championship following formation in 1888. Since this admission Glamorgan have been able to claim the County Championship on three occasions, each time led by a captain of some note.
In 1948 their inaugural championship was won with Wilf Wooler as captain. Wooler was capped for the Welsh Rugby Union team on 20 occasions and was invited to tour with the English cricket team, however other interests prevented him accepting. The 1969 championship was won under the captaincy of Tony Lewis. Lewis is the last man in history to captain England on his test match debut and post his playing career became a television personality. The most recent championship was won in 1997, and the captain of the side was the county run scoring machine, but maligned test player, Matthew Maynard. Maynard’s son Tom is now part of the Glamorgan playing list.
Also playing for Glamorgan in recent history has been the out-of-favour Australian batsman Mark Cosgrove. Cosgrove has performed well in the past few years for Glamorgan and has returned in 2011 just for the T20 format. In the year 2000, former Australian batsman Matthew Elliott was part of the county’s highest first wicket partnership of 374 with Steve James. James later went onto make 309, also the highest score in the counties history. After his acrimonious exit from Somerset in 1986, Viv Richards returned to the county game in 1990 and played 4 seasons for Glamorgan. Although the Master Blaster was at the end of his career he still proved a strong run scorer for the county.
Ben contributes regularly to the following two Blogs:
Balanced Sports – The thinking fans sport opinion and analysis site.
Books with Balls – Reviewing the literature of a number of genres but definitely no Danielle Steele.
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