Dave Allen: Hampshire On The Island

With Hampshire facing Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Newclose during this summer’s Royal London Cup, Club Historian Dave Allen has taken a look back at Hampshire’s previous matches on the Isle of Wight.

Between 1938 and 1962, Hampshire played nine first-class county championship matches on the Isle of Wight, two at Newport’s Recreation Ground, in 1938 & 1939 and seven at the Plessey Ground in Cowes from 1956-1962. The matches at Newport featured one victory and one defeat at a time when Hampshire had some good players but a generally weak side. When they returned to the new JS White’s Ground in Cowes in 1956 Hampshire were one of the stronger counties; they had finished third for the first time in their history in 1955 and then in 1958, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie’s first season as captain they were runners-up to Surrey who were clinching their seventh successive title.

Three years later in 1961 Hampshire won their first Championship title, aided by a fine victory against Essex at Cowes, during which captain Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie made his highest first-class score (132*). Hampshire appeared in a championship match at that ground for the final time in 1962, drawing their match with Worcestershire and they finished with a record in Cowes of three victories, one defeat and three drawn matches. It seemed that might be it for top-class cricket on the island although there were a number of good clubs, with the most successful, Ventnor who included Charlie Freeston before he joined Hampshire’s coaching staff.

Then in the early years of this century Brian Gardner set about creating a ground of first-class standard on the island and since 2009, Newclose has hosted many interesting matches. In one of the first, a young local prospect Danny Briggs appeared in an island side that lost to Derbyshire and later that year Mike Gatting came to officially open the ground followed by a match between Brian Gardner’s XI and MCC.

Hampshire’s 2nd XI came initially in July 2011 for a pair of games against MCC Young Cricketers, Sean Terry opened the batting for MCC in both games, in the first, a 40-over Trophy match, facing a first ball from Hamza Riazzudin and then in a three-day Championship game from Fidel de Wet. Hampshire’s two sides included James Tomlinson, Benny Howell, Adam Rouse, and Johannes Myburgh.

In 2017 we met Lancashire 2nd XI there in a Championship Final match which the visitors won on first innings to take the Trophy. Of our team that day we might expect to see Felix Organ in Hampshire’s RL Cup side this year, while Chris Wood, Harry Came, Matt Salisbury and Brad Wheal might be playing elsewhere in the Hundred or for their counties. The Lancashire side included Josh Bohannon, Daniel Lamb and Saqib Mahmood.

Then in late May 2019 came the new ground’s great event with Hampshire’s four-day Championship match against Nottinghamshire, moved from the Ageas Bowl to accommodate the World Cup which also deprived Hampshire of James Vince and Liam Dawson. Despite this, Hampshire gave a fine performance against Stuart Broad and his team-mates winning by 244 runs on the fourth day with time to spare.

There were good performances from Ajinkya Rahane (119), Sam Northeast (133), Joe Weatherley (66) and Hampshire’s three pacemen Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards and Keith Barker each with six wickets in the match and for the visitors captain Steven Mullaney scored 102, Chris Nash 60 and Luke Fletcher took 4-79. But more than the result and the facts and figures, this was a delightful event, blessed with good weather in a perfect location. It evoked fond memories for many of us of the festive days of counties visiting the outgrounds, attracting new spectators to mix with the regular supporters and members. Let us hope for a similarly memorable occasion when we cross the Solent in 2022.

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