HAMPSHIRE director of cricket Giles White has targeted a serious challenge for the Specsavers County Championship next season.

Six months ago, hopes were high of exactly that this year following the signing of Hashim Amla.

In the end, Hampshire had to settle for emulating last seaosn's fifth place during what has been another year of transition, culminating in the retirements of Jimmy Adams and Sean Ervine.

White admits he would have settled for a top-five place and winning the Royal London One-Day Cup, despite the disappointing Vitality Blast campaign.

But next season the Championship will be the priority.

“Fifth place is not where we want to be, we want to be challenging at the top,” he said after his side last their last game by eight wickets at home to relegated Lancashire. “But it is progress from where we have been.

“Coming into the last game, not looking over our shoulder in a very tight league, as it always seems to be, was good. But there’s plenty of work to do.

“The bedrock of the season is the Championship and there will be a lot of soul searching as to how we can get better.

“There is inconsistency with the batting, but that’s a common theme around the country bar those teams at the top.

“That’s something we need to work on over the winter. I feel we have the personnel, it’s just about getting the best out of them.”

Hampshire failed to register a batting point in their last five matches after being bowled out for under 200 in each first innings.

“The wickets have been really tough this year and maybe the ball’s been a little harder and the seam a little more pronounced,” continued White “But that’s the challenge. The batters are working their socks off if we can get them right and they’re confident who knows.

“Batting is especially difficult at this time of year. But we feel we have a nice blend of experienced players and young batters coming through and our bowling attack has been consistently good.

“The way Kyle Abbott came back from a difficult start to be where he is now has been fantastic. So too is the way James Vince, having been left out of the England team, has responded and led the team in all formats.”

The undoubted highlight of Hampshire’s season was the RLODC final win against Kent at Lord’s.

“June 30th seems a long time ago now but you don’t win a trophy every season,” continued White. “There were seven players in that team who came through our academy, so that was a great day for the whole club and one that will stick in the memory.

“We’ve had tough times as well but that’s the nature of the English season. It’s a roller coaster but the trophy won’t be taken away. The boys should be proud of what they’ve achieved.”