Newly promoted Hampshire have enough quality and experience in their squad to comfortable survive when they return to playing County Championship Division One cricket in 2015.
Jimmy Adams’ side were promoted as Champions last month as they usurped Worcestershire on the final day of the season. Experienced heads like Adams, Sean Ervine and Michael Carberry have been to the top tier and done it before, whilst James Vince’s development can only benefit by exposing him to the best bowlers in the country.
The Royals were promoted as Division Two winners after defeating Glamorgan by 291 runs in their final fixture in a campaign that consisted of just a solitary defeat in the four-day format. Many of their seven wins were indebted to James Vince who was the most prolific run scorer in the country, with 1,525 in the Championship at an average of 61.
The bowling unit was boosted this year by the arrival of South Africa’s Kyle Abbott who was replaced by compatriot Imran Tahir when he left for international duty towards the end of the summer. Abbott took 36 wickets at just a fraction above an average of 20 – a tough act for Jackson Bird to follow up next season.
The Test capped Aussie will look to make a mark on English wickets and earn himself a place in the squad for next summer’s Ashes series. Bird will play the first three months of the season, and it is hoped that Abbott will return again for the latter stages of the year.
Having at least one of those bowlers available for every fixture will give the county a great chance of thriving against some of the best teams in England. Meanwhile, Yasir Arafat will bring a lot of nous to the bowling line-up with his vast experience in the English game. The former Kent seamer will be especially key in limited-overs cricket, but is capable to taking wickets in the longer format of the game as well.
If James Vince can eclipse his 2014 run scoring form next season then the club will score a lot of bonus batting points. The Hampshire vice captain was the top run scorer in the country, and the 23-year-old has already shown his captaincy credentials by skippering the Royals to a fifth consecutive Final’s Day appearance.
The only fear for the Royals will be losing Vince if – or rather, when – he gets a call-up to the England squad, which could see him unavailable for his county for long periods of the season. But if they can hold onto him, then there is every chance that Hampshire could find themselves battling for the Division One title in 2015.