Dave Allen: Hampshire's Australians

Following the re-signing of Australian duo Ben McDermott and Nathan Ellis for the Vitality Blast, Club historian Dave Allen has taken a look at the other Australians to play for Hampshire

This coming September will mark the 160th anniversary of the formation of Hampshire County Cricket Club. The formalities were completed at the Antelope Ground off Southampton’s Avenue while a match was being played outside but the first official game of the new club came in the following year, when we lost to Sussex , again at the Antelope. Opening our batting that day in his only match for Hampshire was 19-year-old John Carr Lord who was born (and died) in Tasmania – his only other first-class match was for his home state against Victoria almost nine years later.

Over the ninety years up to the interruption of the Second World War, a few overseas players appeared in Hampshire’s ranks, notably South Africans CB Llewellyn and Len Creese although a further 32 of our ‘Englishmen’ were born in British Empire India while in the 19th century, Australian-born Arthur Jeffrys played briefly for Hampshire and before the First World War three other Australians William Dean, Hugh Orr and William Russell also played occasionally – again it is probable that all four were ‘sons of the Empire’.

When Desmond Eagar arrived as captain and secretary when county cricket resumed in 1946, he inherited an ageing side that was mostly in the lower reaches of the Championship and he sought to strengthen the side in various ways, including looking abroad. As a consequence in 1955 West Indian Roy Marshall made his Championship debut, followed four years later by Danny Livingstone from Antigua and a decade later came Barry Richards from South Africa, followed by three great West Indians, Gordon Greenidge (via Reading) Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall.

There were Australians in county cricket in that first major influx post-1968 - notably Greg Chappell at Somerset – while the first ‘Aussie’ to arrive at Hampshire was Shaun Graf who came as a ‘stand-in’ in 1980. Then in 1997 while his compatriots toured England, opening bat Matthew Hayden took the opportunity to remind Aussie selectors what they had missed with a record-breaking season. It paved the way for a succession of some fine Australians to join the county, not least of course the great Shane Warne who came in 2000 and then returned as captain from 2004-2007. During that latter spell Hampshire won their first trophy in 13 years (Lord’s, 2005), they also won promotion from Division Two (2004) and finished runners-up in the Championship (2005). In that Final with Warne away on ‘Ashes’ duty, Hampshire’s overseas men were Shane Watson and Andrew Bichel - both also posted debut Championship centuries for the county.

After Warne came a considerable list of Australian Hampshire cricketers: Simon Katich had two spells at Hampshire, 2003-5 and in the double-winning side of 2012 and he was followed initially by the future Australian captain Michael Clarke (2004). Then came Shane Watson (2004/5), Michael Dighton (2004), Andrew Bichel (2005), Dominic Thorneley (2006), Stuart Clark (2007), Adam Voges (2007), Ian Harvey (2008), Marcus North (for just one Championship day in 2009), Dan Christian (with the T20 Champions of 2010), the tragic batter Philip Hughes (2010), Glenn Maxwell (2012 & 2014), George Bailey (2013-2017), Nathan Rimmington (2014), Jackson Bird (2015), and in the T20 of 2021, D’Arcy Short. In the same year, Cameron Steel born in the USA but raised in Australia played one Championship game, oddly alongside Ian Holland who had the same origins. A few years previously, ‘Dimi’ Mascarenhas, Alan Mullally and Sean Terry were born in England but raised in Australia, whereas our current all-rounder Felix Organ tells the opposite tale.

Then in 2022 we signed a pair from ‘down under’ who played a key role in Hampshire winning the T20 Trophy for the third time. Dynamic opening batter and wicketkeeper Ben McDermott scored 494 runs at just under 30 each innings with five fifties, adding 19 dismissals, while pace bowler Nathan Ellis bowled that crucial final over at Edgbaston and took 15 wickets at 20 each with an economy rate just below seven. Both men also played in the Hundred last year for London Spirit and they are returning together to Hampshire for the 2023 season – more of the same please!

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