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HAMPSHIRE CRICKET RETURNS TO ISLE OF WIGHT 50 YEARS ON

Hampshire’s country cricket team is set to compete on the Isle of Wight for the first time in 50 years at Newport’s Newclose grounds, bbc.co.uk reports.

Former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon will head up the opposing team, the PCA Masters XI, in two games of Twenty20 cricket on June 11th.

The match, which is already creating a buzz for both teams and groundsmen, could provoke a surge of bookings at Isle of Wight hotels – especially as Hampshire’s team includes two native Islanders.

Ventnor’s Danny Briggs, a seam-bowler for the side, and Shanklin’s David Griffiths, a left-arm bowler, could both make an appearance on the day, suggests ecb.co.uk. Newclose benefactor and trustee, Brian Gardener, says that this will undoubtedly provide a level of “top-class” cricket not seen on the Island in decades.

“Genuine top-class cricket will once again be played on the Island, and we intend to use the occasion to prove that Newclose is perfectly capable of staging cricket at the highest level,” he says.

Hampshire, based at the Ageas Bowl (formerly known as the Rose Bowl, on the outskirts of Southampton), rarely leave its stomping ground – no matter what the occasion. In fact, in the last two years they have left only once for a match in Basingstoke.

“The whole squad is excited to be going to the Isle of Wight for this match,” enthused bowler Danny Briggs. “The facilities at Newclose are excellent and I know we’re all looking forward to playing in front of the club’s considerable following there.”