Bowling duo retire from Hampshire cricket

By Connor Steel / Photograph from BBC Sport

HAMPSHIRE CRICKET have confirmed the first departures from their side in preparations for the 2022 summer campaign, with announcements by bowlers Ryan Stevenson and Brad Taylor that they are both retiring from professional cricket immediately.

It comes as both have suffered injuries that has seen them miss large periods of action over recent years, with no signs of improvements following impressive starts to their cricketing career.

Twenty-nine-year-old Stevenson joined the Ageas Bowl following a trial match, catching the eye with impressive performances at Devon as a seamer in the minor counties league. The right-armer continued his high standard and was offered a contract with Hampshire’s second eleven before being promoted.

Stevenson featured in three key LV= County Championship games at the end of 2015 as Hampshire fought successfully to avoid relegation from Division One with two points a difference. His debut in Durham saw the youngster hit 30 runs in the first innings before taking the wicket of Graham Onions for his first dismissal to help secure a vital away win.

However injuries halted the bowler’s encouraging start with three stress fractures in his back, which led to a long spell of rehabilitation lasting two seasons. Stephenson returned to action versus Kent during a Twenty-20 blast game in July 2018, when he took figures of 2-39 from four overs and thanked Hampshire for their support.

Stevenson then enjoyed a strong 2019 campaign as part of the Second XI where he led the bowling attack in all formats and made vital contributions to the side’s Second XI Championship title, including a five-wicket haul in the competition final.

Alongside this impressive record he also made appearances for the senior side during their Vitality Blast and County Championship campaigns, recording a four-wicket haul and maiden First-Class fifty against Surrey. However he sadly suffered a recurrence of his previous injuries that has now resulted in an early retirement.

Director of cricket Giles White brought Stephenson to the Ageas Bowl and was sad to hear of his retirement, giving this statement on the county website:

“Ryan has been the ultimate team man and an extremely popular member of the squad. Everyone at the Club has thoroughly enjoyed having Ryan around and we hope to see plenty of him and his family at The Ageas Bowl in the future”.

Brad Taylor, aged 24, also had fantastic headlines in 2013 as he made his Hampshire debut against Lancashire in a 40-over match, breaking two county records. Taylor became the youngest player for 135 years to make his 2013 Hampshire debut when he faced Lancashire in a 40-over match, aged just 16 and 154 days

It was a rapid rise from the youth setup and it soon got better for Taylor, who picked up a wicket with his third ball of the game to break a 146-year-old record as the youngest player to do so for Hampshire.

The Winchester born off-spinner was awarded with a contract at Hampshire in 2015 and captained the England U19s on their winter tour to Sri Lanka in the same year, before starring in a clash versus South Africa in summer 2017.

Taylor made his biggest impact in Hampshire’s List A side with 18 appearances, picking up 15 wickets and averaging 35 with the bat. In total he made 32 appearances for the county, including key contributions throughout his team’s triumphant 50-over campaign in 2018. This came as he travelled to New Zealand in winter 2017 to gain valuable experience under former spinner Jeetan Patel.

His last first-class appearance came in June 2018 following an ankle injury, with the last white-ball appearances in August 2019. He tried to fully recover from injury in 2020, but lockdown restrictions and a lack of fitness prevented any playing opportunities before suffering another minor ankle problem that forced his retirement.

Giles White said in a statement online: “Hampshire fans will have fond memories of Brad bursting onto the scene at the age of just 16.

“He has always been a very popular member of the squad and it’s been a pleasure seeing him develop as a cricketer. Brad has always been a team player throughout his time here and will always be welcome back at The Ageas Bowl.”

Hampshire Cricket have wished both players all the best in their careers and thank them for their lengthy services to the county.