Cricket

Gareth Berg scoops two awards and pens new contract for Hampshire

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Gareth Berg took 42 wickets at 28 and made over 700 runs in the LV County Championship as he became an influential player in Hampshire's great escape from Division 1 relegation this term.

The right-arm seamer and good lower-order batsman, who was released by Middlesex last year, quickly became an integral part of Hampshire's County Championship side in 2015, in a season that saw him rewarded with the Ageas Players' Player of the Year Award and Paris Smith's Fans' Player of the Year Award at the Hampshire Cricket end of season dinner.

34-year-old Berg joined Hampshire at the beginning of this 2015 season after an injury curtailed his time at former side Middlesex. He proceeded to produce some of his best career performances to date - including an important first innings 72 in the pivotal victory over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last week.

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Berg perfectly complimented the pace and aggression of Fidel Edwards, and the control and clinical class of Ryan McLaren, as Hampshire's bowling attack led the way in their end of season relegation escape. Now Berg, who signed a contract extension in August, will remain on the South Coast until the end of the 2016 season and joins Edwards in putting pen-to-paper on 2016 deals.

Hampshire's next task will be to cement their position in Division 1, after their final day promotion two seasons ago, the Ageas Bowl side looked all but set to return to the second division having barely been out of the bottom two spots all summer.

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Yet, as they have proven time and again in limited-overs cricket, they have a squad of match winning players, the question now is, can they produce it regularly enough in 4-day cricket to stabilise themselves in the top-tier? 

The emergence of Berg and the signing of Edwards show there is some shrewd recruitment going on down on the south coast, with rumours abundant that Shane Watson may return to the county next summer and with good links to international names like Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott and Michael Clarke, Hampshire could become a revitalised side in the longest format of domestic cricket. 

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