Cricket: County Championship guide First Division – Hampshire

How Hampshire are shaping up for the season which starts tomorrow – including Bob Willis's verdict

Big year for

Duncan Fletcher Fletcher, who will work part-time, will need to inspire a little magic while Imran Tahir is out

In a nutshell

On the up for a few seasons, Hampshire are seeking the final ingredient to turn themselves into champions. Whether that ingredient is veteran Dominic Cork, new team manager Giles White, or special coaching consultant Duncan Fletcher remains to be seen

Ashes factor

Unlikely to see much of Kevin Pietersen, the club will play Marcus North up to the Ashes, in which he is likely to feature after scoring a century on his Test debut in South Africa

Foreign flavour

North and Tahir for two, and the club also have Greek-born Nic Pothas, already qualified for England, and Zimbabwean Sean Ervine, well on his way to being so

Well I never

Tahir is unavailable for the first part of the season after being hit by a bouncer that fractured his jaw in three places Andy Bull

Bob Willis's verdict

While they have put together a very interesting squad, I still feel they are not strong enough in the bowling department – especially now that they have lost Tahir. Dominic Cork will add some speed to the attack and batsman Marcus North's availability is a boost

Captain Dimitri Mascarenhas

Coach Giles White

2008: Championship 3rd (D1) Pro 40 2nd (Div 1) Friends Provident 4th in South/West group Twenty20 Cup 4th in South division

In Imran Tahir, Marcus North, Dominic Cork (Lancs). Out Michael Brown (Surrey), Kevin Latouf, Richard Morris, Greg Lamb, Nantie Hayward, Rory Kleinveldt (all released)

Overseas Tahir (Pak, from June), North (Aus, before June)

Contributor

Andy Bull

The GuardianTramp

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