White targets Twenty20 turnaround
Giles White expects Hampshire to address their dismal Twenty20 Cup record when this season’s competition begins today.
The Hawks face rivals Sussex Sharks at the Rose Bowl in their first southern group match with plenty to prove in the shortest form of the game.
This season marks the eighth staging of the popular format - and Hampshire have one of the worst records in the country, having made the quarter-finals just once back in 2004, when they were thrashed by nine wickets at the hands of Lancashire.
“Hampshire’s record has been poor,” coach White told ecb.co.uk.
“Who knows why? We’ve got some good Twenty 20 players and I don’t think we’ve always played our strongest side. When Warney [Shane Warne] was around he didn’t play Twenty20 and we might have rested older players, and maybe not taken it as seriously as we could have done.
“Last year I think we played pretty well, we came fourth and it’s a tough division - three of the finals day teams were from our division and we just missed out.”
First-team coach White admits that the financial and marketing opportunities Twenty20 now provides mean it has an elevated status compared to previous years, with this season’s winners likely to feature in a Champions League despite the cancellation of the inaugural event over the winter.
“The championship is always the big one, and I think it still is,” added White.
“I guess the Twenty20 is the other one because you’ve got the Champions League etc, so I suppose that’s just below the championship.
“I don’t think we’re far away, we’re in a tough division but we’ll be looking to qualify and obviously be successful in that competition.”
The southern group certainly looks the toughest on paper - with Surrey, Kent and Middlesex all having won the trophy before, and Sussex and Essex both having reached finals day in the past. But White believes Hampshire have enough fire power to go all the way.
“I believe that if we stay fit, the bowlers stay fit, and international calls are kindish to us then I think we can challenge by the end of the season,” he said.
“You go into a season always looking to win things and I don’t see that it’s any different this year.”