Hampshire General Manager Bob Parks has told CRICKETher that building a regional hub around the “world class” facilities at Hampshire County Cricket Club, and at key-partner Southampton Solent University, were the keys to their successful Super League bid.
“Our bid, which emphasised the regional aspect of the Super League concept, fitted very well with the ECB’s aspirations… [and] the idea of hosting a team at a world class venue like the Ageas Bowl was also high on their list of criteria.”
“Southampton Solent University offers excellent sports science facilities… [and] will also attract players who wish to play Super League and study in Southampton.”
Parks emphasises that they see this as a “South Central” regional team rather than just a “Hampshire” county one, with the franchise sitting at the pinnacle of a development pathway, which includes (among others) Berkshire, Oxfordshire and of course Sussex.
“Sussex have a very well-established women’s development pathway and will provide a number of players for the new team. Their expertise and experience will also be vital in helping less established counties grow their player base and improve the quality of cricket played throughout the region at grassroots level.”
Asked if they have been promised particular players, as Yorkshire and Lancashire appear to have been, Parks says no, but this is something they are hoping to have sorted sooner rather than later:
“No players have been allocated by the ECB or selected by ourselves yet, [but] we hope to hear more in the next couple of weeks.”
Finally, the most important question of all: what will the franchise be called? The answer, apparently, is that it could be up to you! They will be holding a public competition to choose a name, promoted through the local media and commercial partners, in the next few weeks – so look out for that if you’re from the area!