Chris Wood, Liam Dawson and Colin Munro look ahead to this Friday's Vitality Blast match against Middlesex at the Ageas Bowl
Sam Northeast has been preparing to face Sussex’s Rashid Khan by watching clips of the spin king on YouTube.
Leg spinner Khan has gained a reputation as one of the most mysterious spinners in the Vitality Blast, and around world cricket, with a series of eye-catching performances.
The Afghan has already posted a pair of two-wicket hauls, at a low economy rate, in Sussex’s opening two fixtures, to go alongside impressive outings in the Big Bash and IPL earlier this year.
And ahead of his possible showdown with compatriot Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hampshire’s new overseas signing, Northeast has been doing his homework.
“We have seen what he and Jofra Archer have done in the IPL,” Northeast said.
“I’ve been watching a few videos of his variations but it could be very different when we get out there in the middle.
“When there is someone with a bit more mystery then you pay a bit more attention to them and see what they have got.
“There are no easy games in this competition and you just have to back yourself and play with freedom.
“I’m sure the Sussex batsmen will be doing the same with Mujeeb here. He is someone they probably haven’t faced so they will be wary of him like we are of Rashid Khan.”
Hampshire have named an unchanged squad for the ‘El Clasicoast’ fixture at the Ageas Bowl on Friday – with Joe Weatherley, Ryan Stevenson and Sean Ervine included alongside the XI which lost to Glamorgan last Friday.
Sam Northeast has also joked he is awaiting another barrage of boos when he returns to Kent for the first time in the Vitality Blast on Friday.
Northeast was subjected to a cacophony of jeers when he came out to bat for Hampshire in their Royal London One-Day Cup final victory at Lord’s.
And the batsman is ready to be the pantomime villain again at Beckenham.
“I guess I’m probably expecting some more boos!” Northeast laughed.
“On the day at Lord’s it calmed me down actually. If I get a bad reception then so be it.”
Northeast left Kent over the winter having been associated with the county since he was nine - playing in the first team for ten years and spending the final two as captain.
The split was bitter, and led to the acrimonious scenes on June 30 – where Northeast beat the boos to score a classy 75.
And the 28-year-old has admitted he shares responsibility for the negative legacy of him left behind in Canterbury, and feels a great deal of regret about the way he left his boyhood club.
“I think the truth is the departure wasn’t done well from both sides,” Northeast said.
“We probably both didn’t handle the situation as well as we should have done in terms of how it all came out – the wrong messages were given.
“The fans have a reason to be disappointed and bitter about the whole move.
“If we had both come out and moved on in the right way then it would have been handled differently.
“It was disappointing at that time that we couldn’t just have thanked each other for the time together, the journey and the memories.
“It felt like me and the board were pushing against each other and when I left there wasn’t anything really put out there and I could have done more to say thank you.
“It wasn’t left in the best place between me and some of the people up top and that has probably fed down to the fans.”
Northeast’s former team-mate Joe Denly is one of English cricket’s most in form players – with six centuries, including one in the Vitality Blast, already this season.
But while Denly’s batting success hasn’t been a huge surprise, his accomplishments with his leg-spin has shocked opponents – not least his former skipper.
“Joe Denly is playing unbelievable cricket at the moment,” Northeast said. “He must be one of the best players in the country at the minute.
“If you miss your length by a little bit it will go out the park at the moment. He is full of confidence and won’t be an easy person to bowl at in this form.
“He will be a big wicket and how we face him with his leg spin now.
“He always complained I never bowled him enough and he is being proved right!”
Northeast has had a frustrating season in and out the side due to a fractured finger – which kept him out for almost two months.
But insists he is ready to fire Hampshire to more silverware this season and then book his place on England Lions’ tour over the winter, or perhaps the full national side.
Northeast said: “It was really disappointing to get that injury after the hundred at the Oval as I was really hoping to build on that.
“It has been a strange stop start season but I have made contributions in big games like the semi-final and final.
“It has felt like I haven’t really played much yet but there are plenty more opportunities to contribute and hopefully that will help Hampshire win another trophy.
“I’m looking towards the winter and hopefully getting selected for the Lions.
“If I can really go big towards the back end of this summer and lead Hampshire to win games then hopefully higher honours come.
“I was in as good a touch as I have ever been before the injury and if I can get back to that run of form then I will be there of thereabouts.”
Words: ECB Reporter Network
A 15-man squad has been named for this week's back-to-back Vitality Blast matches against Middlesex and Essex Eagles
All you need to know about Hampshire's Vitality Blast match against Middlesex