Chris Wood warns wounded Hampshire cannot rely on repeat of ‘freak’ 2022 season
Chris Wood insisted Hampshire cannot rely on replicating the “freak” circumstances that led to their Vitality Blast triumph last year after starting this campaign with a resounding defeat.
Hampshire lost their first four matches last season before turning the tide with 12 wins in 13 to be crowned champions but their title defence started in forgettable fashion at Somerset on Wednesday.
All out for 74 in 16.1 overs against an attack featuring Craig Overton, Matt Henry and Peter Siddle, Hampshire were well beaten at Taunton as their opponents chased down a meagre target in 57 balls for the loss of only two wickets.
Wood hopes Hampshire can rebound against Middlesex – the second match in a double header at the Ageas Bowl on Friday, with reigning Charlotte Edwards Cup champions Southern Vipers taking on Western Storm.
“We need to bounce back because last year was a freak, if we lose our first four games this year then (winning the competition) is not going to happen again,” Wood told the PA news agency.
“We do need to turn it round quickly but it’s just a case of wiping out the defeat and understanding it can happen. We’ll dust ourselves off and go again.
“They had three Test bowlers at the end of the day that are seriously good and seriously accurate and it nipped around.
“The stats are saying you need 200 at Taunton – it’s the highest scoring ground in the world – but you’re four for two and still feel like you need to get 170 to be in the game, it just happens.”
Being champions we're now going to be the hunted, every team is now going to be coming after us this year, there's no free game in the group whatsoever
In the 20-year history of the Blast, no team has retained the title and while ending that record is a major ambition for Wood, his main focus is on helping Hampshire to a home quarter-final.
While the left-arm seamer has been a part of nine Finals Days dating back to 2010, going all the way on three occasions, only twice have they guaranteed themselves a home clash at the last-eight stage.
“I think we owe our fans that,” he added. “Being champions we’re now going to be the hunted, every team is now going to be coming after us this year, there’s no free game in the group whatsoever.
“We’re going to have to play some very good cricket if we want to go somewhere close again this year.”
The Vipers have rejigged their top order as captain Georgia Adams moved down to number four, with Maia Bouchier opening alongside Danni Wyatt in their curtain-raiser against South East Stars on Tuesday.
The pair put on 56 in 4.4 overs, with Bouchier thumping 30 off 18 deliveries, to help the Vipers off to a flyer at Newbury, where they reeled in a target of 170 with six wickets and seven balls to spare.
“At one point I thought they were going to chase down the total in eight overs, especially the way Maia was batting until she got ran out,” Adams said.
“The way Maia Bouchier plays and how she hits down the ground, comfortably lofting it over mid-on and mid-off, is quite special. She’s been a huge talent for us at the Vipers and we want to give her a go.
“She’s trying to knock on England’s door and England might potentially have opportunities at the top in the next couple of years. For her it’s a great move especially if the other day was anything to go by.”
:: Vitality Blast champions Hampshire Hawks team up with women’s T20 champs Southern Vipers for a double header at The Ageas Bowl on Friday 26 May. Tickets are still available at www.ageasbowl.com
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