By Connor Steel
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET have confirmed that Benny Howell will re-join the county on a three-year deal to play in white ball tournaments from 2023 after signing his contract at the Ageas Bowl; the thirty-three year old all-rounder thus choosing to end a highly successful ten year tenure with fierce domestic rivals Gloucestershire at the end of this season and completing a full circle after trading Southampton for Bristol back in 2012.
Howell will not feature within the County Championship or other red ball tournaments for Hampshire; instead focusing on helping the team retain the Vitality Blast alongside the Royal One Day Cup competition. He also looks set to continue playing in the month-long Hundred Competition for the Birmingham Phoenix following a successful first year in 2021 with bat and ball contributions as they lost the final to Southern Brave.
Having made his debut at the Ageas Bowl in 2010, Howell had an instant impact as he made twenty-seven appearances for Hampshire across all three domestic formats; but saw his opportunities limited and chose to join Gloucestershire two years later. Since then he has made 277 appearances for the Bristol-based county and arguably become one of the finest all-rounders in the country, especially in the limited-over formats.
In his decade at Gloucestershire he has scored a total of 6.701 runs and further taken 312 wickets across all formats, helping them win the Royal London One Day Cup in 2015 with fifteen dismissals. He also made five appearances in the team’s run to the 2020 Vitality Blast Finals Day, hitting 96 runs and taking seven wickets including a man-of-the-match performance in the quarter finals versus Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
Despite turning down what Gloucestershire described as an “extremely competitive offer”, Howell has since committed to playing out the rest of the 2022 season with the county. The side are currently bottom of the County Championship Division One and face a thirty-seven point deficit with three games left in their battle against relegation, whilst they will open their One Day Cup against Warwickshire on Tuesday (August 2).
Alongside playing English domestic cricket including the Hundred, Howell has appeared in many franchise leagues worldwide including the Indian Premier League and Pakistani Super League. He has furthermore represented England Lions over the last ten years, most recently playing against South Africa last month; although he hasn’t been capped by the international team eleven in either of the three formats of cricket.
Speaking to the official Hampshire website on Monday, Howell said: “Hampshire is the place where I learnt a great amount during my early career. It was always an elite environment so I’m extremely excited to re-join the Club after ten years away and hopefully I can help the side compete for more trophies in the future.”
Howell also gave an emotional statement to fans of his current club: “Gloucestershire has been more than just a cricket club to me, it’s been a home. For that, I will be forever grateful. Unfortunately, in life and in sport, nothing lasts forever. It has not been an easy decision for me, but I feel it has been a necessary one.”
Meanwhile the Hampshire director of cricket Giles White gave his thoughts on the new addition: “Benny is recognised as one of the best T20 all-rounders in England and it’s great that he wants to finish his career where it began. He adds great depth to our squad and improves both our batting and bowling resources.”
PICTURED BY ALAMY: Benny Howell batting for Birmingham Phoenix in the 2021 Hundred Competition and will re-join Hampshire on a white ball deal from 2023 after signing three year contract to play at Ageas Bowl.