BASINGSTOKE-born Hampshire cricketer Chris Wood is looking forward to playing alongside in-form Glenn Maxwell during the T20 Blast.
The Hampshire all-rounder wants to be back in the first team by the end of May after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee just before Christmas.
Maxwell could be available at a similar time following his exploits at the Indian Premier League, but will not be available until early June if Kings XI Punjab make the final.
Wood watched his teammate’s record-breaking first three innings for Kings XI Punjab with awe.
Maxwell twice made 95 from only 43 balls, either side of a 45-ball 89 – hitting a total of 28 fours and 17 sixes in the process. He is the first IPL batsman to hit three successive scores of 80-plus.
“Only a handful of players in world cricket can do that and we know if he does that for us he wins three games for us,” said Wood.
“He was a serious talent when we had him in 2012, we were completely out of a game at Chelmsford, but won it with three balls to spare.”
Hampshire began their T20 Blast campaign at home against Glamorgan last night and the IPL final is on June 1, so Maxwell may not be available until his county's fifth game on June 5.
Wood is targeting Hampshire’s third or fourth game, against Middlesex on May 25 or Essex five days later, as his comeback.
Wood added: “I’m hopefully a week or so away from being fully fit. The second T20 is a bit optimistic but the rehab’s going really well.”
“I’ll be in the second team as a batter soon, then bowling with restricted overs, then going flat out for four overs the following week and hopefully bowling well enough to be selected.”
Hampshire are the bookies’ favourites to win the T20 Blast, because of their two overseas players being Maxwell, and Kyle Abbott, one of the world’s most effective ‘death bowlers’ in the shortest form of the game.
It is hard to see anyone beating Hampshire when Maxwell and Abbott are both available in June and early July.
No other side has two overseas players of the same quality. Indeed, only a few other counties have registered two overseas players.
The T20 Blast’s regular Friday night slot will also feature several new attractions off the field, including giant replay screens that will enable a second look at the action, even when Sky Sports are not there.
Hampshire are also promising more crowd interaction and a new female dance troupe to rival those at the IPL.
It promises to be a competition to remember, especially if Hampshire can add the trophy to those they won in 2010 and 2012.
One Hampshire player set to miss a few games in the competition is Michael Carberry after he was selected in the England T20 and one day team for their matches against Sri Lanka.
The T20 game is on May 20 and the one-day games start two days later.