By Connor Steel
SUPPORTERS of Hampshire Cricket paid tribute to their former captain and Australian legend Shane Warne following his untimely death last month aged 52, the club allowing them onto the Ageas Bowl outfield as the 2022 County Championship season finally begun following months of preparation.
The lunch interval on day one saw hundreds of ticket-owners given permission to enter the sacred turf and gathered at the far side of the stadium, where they watched a tribute video on an extra-large screen and then held a minute of applause under spring skies before returning to their seats.
It was a tribute worthy of the club legend who was honoured with a stand at the Ageas Bowl back in June 2012, having played in Southampton between 2000 and 2007; taking 276 first class wickets at an average of 25.59 per dismissal and adding over two thousand runs with the bat through the spell.
But more than the records, he is credited with making Hampshire more competitive and becoming one of the most consistent sides under his leadership; winning promotion to Division One in 2004 with a second place finish in 2005 alongside a Twenty-20 cup win before finishing third and fifth in the two years before retiring.
And speaking before the toss on Thursday current captain James Vince credited Warne for helping club before outlining hopes of marking his legacy this summer with a County Championship victory. In an interview previewing the season opener this week via ITV News, the batsman said the following:
“It changed the way Hampshire played their cricket when he was involved. He took it from a club that was sort of just turning up and hoping for the best to really try and breed a winning mentality into the squad. That’s something that’s still with the club now and something we want to take forward.”
His teammates followed this message with a brilliant and dominant display on day one, reducing Somerset to 180 all out in their first innings before responding with an unbeaten partnership of one-hundred and nine runs in the final session as the pitch flattered down as the sun broke out.
A report on this match will be published on the Gosport & Fareham Globe when the game has concluded, with readers able to watch the special tribute video released by Hampshire Cricket on YouTube here.
PICTURED BY SOMERSET CCC: Fans enter the Ageas Bowl turf during the lunch interval for tribute which involved a video played on the big screen and a minutes’ applause for their former legendary captain.