An Interview With Benny Howell

Hampshire Hawks new signing Benny Howell discusses the 2023 Vitality Blast

We sat down with Hampshire Hawks all-rounder Benny Howell, who made his return to The Ageas Bowl from Gloucestershire ahead of the 2023 season. The 34-year-old discussed his move and the side's chances of retaining the Vitality Blast title.

Benny, welcome back to the Hawks! How have you found your first winter back at The Ageas Bowl?

I spent most of my winter away playing franchise cricket in Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh and Dubai. I Managed to join in with most of the group in pre-season. A lot of new faces but also some familiar ones welcoming me back. The dynamic and culture that’s been created here is a clear reason why Hampshire have been so successful. Being good cricketers is not enough. There seems to be a way of being, that allows everyone to express their unique skills and characteristics which ultimately produces their best cricket. There is a ‘buy into this’ mindset and that’s what you need for a top-class team.

Having played a big part in Gloucestershire’s side for a number of years, was it a difficult choice to leave?

On the surface, yes it was difficult. My family are settled in Bristol, my son just started his new school which ironically is just over the road from Bristol County Ground. My team-mates at Gloucestershire are like a family, we went through some serious challenges together on and off the pitch and we came through the other side. It was also a place where I really honed my skills and learned my craft. So, to move it did feel like I was walking away from something good in front of me. However, for me, there was a deeper question that had to be answered: If I stay with Gloucestershire, will I have any regrets when I retire? The answer was a clear yes. And that was enough for me to make the decision to move here. I still have ambitions of playing for England, to win trophies and to keep growing as a person and a cricketer. I always want to challenge myself and Hampshire seemed like the environment that aligned with my goals and my mindset. It was also a nice feeling knowing that the place where it all began is the place where I will most likely finish.

You’re joining up with the current Vitality Blast champions, how exciting is it to be a part of this squad for 2023?

There are some class players here led by our skipper James Vince and we have two high quality overseas players in Ben McDermott and Nathan Ellis. Pretty much all the guys have been involved in The Hundred and other franchise competitions so its exciting to see what we can achieve on the pitch. We will put on a good show, that’s for sure!

How confident are yourself and the group that you can go back-to-back and win the Vitality Blast?

You have to believe you can win it first in order to win it! The fact that the team hasn’t changed from last year, apart from myself, means that we have a good chance too! Hopefully I can add value in my performances but also in my experience of playing a lot of T20 cricket. So yes, I believe we can go back-to-back.

And finally, how excited are you for the 2023 Vitality Blast to get underway?

Big sixes, lots of wickets (that’s the plan!) Either way, what the fans can expect is me competing right to the end, leaving everything out on the pitch. I love to have fun out there so they will get to see some modern T20 bowling – off-spin, leg spin, carrom balls, knuckle balls, seamers. I won’t be boring, that I can guarantee.

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