OWAIS Shah makes his Hampshire debut in the Natwest T20 Blast tonight – and is likely to have his three-match deal extended.
The former England batsman has signed for the next three matches, effectively until overseas star Glenn Maxwell arrives from the Indian Premier League – starting against rivals Sussex at Hove tonight.
And Hampshire’s director of cricket, Giles White, has revealed that the county may extend their deal with the T20 specialist.
He said: “Owais is good for us right now, he’s the right fit and has come in for at least the next three games. We’re open minded about how much he plays later in the tournament.
“It will depend on who we have available and how much he is enjoying it.”
Shah, 35, said: “Hopefully I’ll get some more opportunities and end up playing the whole tournament.”
With Liam Dawson injured during last week’s defeat to Glamorgan and Michael Carberry back in the England fold, Hampshire have not had the easiest of starts to the post-Neil McKenzie era.
“We’re conscious we may have Carbs, Daws’ and Maxwell all available later in the tournament but are glad to have Owais’s experience and obvious quality available to us now,” said White.
“We spoke to him a little during the winter but when we signed Maxwell it didn’t seem as though there would be a fit.”
Given Shah’s track record, it is surprising he had not already been snapped up.
“I think some counties thought his availability would be limited by the Indian Premier League and the Caribbean Premier League, but that’s not been the case,” explained White.
Shah’s T20 CV is certainly impressive.
He has scored more career T20 runs than any other Englishman and only five players – Chris Gayle, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Brendon McCullum and David Warner – have made more in the history of the shortest format than Shah’s 4,863 at 33.77 (and at a strike rate of 126.37).
His career has included spells with the likes of the Rajasthan Royals, the Cape Cobras and the Dhaka Gladiators – and he has had more success against Hampshire than any other side.
Shah’s domestic T20 record of 2,105 runs at 34 for Middlesex (2003-10) and Essex (2011-13) includes 438 at 43.8 against Hampshire following a 43-ball 68 at the Ageas Bowl in his last T20 game on English soil last July.
Shah, who was man of the match when Middlesex won the domestic T20 final at the Rose Bowl in 2008, will be playing his first T20 game tonight since a below-par stint with Dimi Mascarenhas’s Hobart Hurricanes during the Big Bash in Australia.