Hampshire heed calls to extend season

While club cricketers across the land are traditionally dusting down their gear and putting it away for another winter, down south they were busy gearing up for the season’s grand finale in September – the second Hampshire Sixes competition.

The innovative move by Hampshire County Cricket Board – with the finalists given a memorable day out contesting the crown at the Ageas Bowl – came in response to a demand from clubs across the area to extend their season, in particular with a view to catering for younger players.

Following discussion at a league and club forum about ways to get the game on, the green light was given for the sixes set-up. Involving clubs from the Southern Electric Premier (SEPL), Hampshire and Dorset Leagues respectively, last year’s inaugural affair proved a great success, with this year’s edition extended to also provide a final for girls.

Each participating club – 12 from the SEPL, three from the Hampshire League and one from the Dorset League – must win through a group-stage, with teams fielding six players drawn from eight-strong squads. Games consist of five six-ball overs per side, with batsmen retiring at 25 and last man standing. “It was always likely to be a positive reaction,” says John Cook, development manager at Hampshire CCB.

“With junior games finishing in early August and senior cricket in early September, an opportunity to play in a competition later in the year was needed.”

The results have arguably exceeded expectations and show what a bit of thinking outside the box can do. “The extra games have been welcomed by everyone taking part. The only comments have been positive,” adds Ian Millington, chair of Hampshire Cricket League.