By Neil Fissler
Adi Aymes remembers with some fondness Hampshire’s first season at the Rose Bowl following their move from Northlands Road.
The county had just been relegated from the First Division of the County Championship and wanted to get back as quickly as possible.
Visiting teams must have wondered what was going on with pavilion and dressing rooms not complete as temporary marquees were erected.
But Aymes says that it was an exciting time to be involved with Hampshire, who finished runners-up to Sussex, who were 16 points better off with 208.
“It was the first season at the Rose Bowl and it had excessive bounce, but certain players thought that it was unfair,” he said.
“But it was a consistently excessive rather than going up and down. It was a bit like a tennis ball. But we played well at home on that ground.
“It was different surroundings, but it was actually a good cricket wicket whereas at Northlands Road it was a very flat wicket for the batsman.
“The Rose Bowl offered more to everyone, but it was an exciting time for the club because it was a fantastic facility.
“And even though the main pavilion wasn’t up, we got changed in solid based marquees with shower units, it wasn’t the palatial place it is now.”
The first game at the new ground, against Essex in the Benson & Hedges Cup, was washed out because of rain.
Two days later they lost to Surrey in the same competition, but in the first Championship match against Worcestershire they fared much better.
After winning the toss and batting first, Dimitri Mascarenhas scored the first century as they made 309, eventually winning the match by 124 runs.
Aymes said that batting first was a pattern that would become familiar in that first season at the ground, but was one that suited them.
“I think we won six and drew one, and also tied one when we needed 50 to win and had wickets in hand,” he added.
“So really we should have won all of our games, basically, so it was obviously an advantage to us.
“The wicket looked green and like any new wicket that gets dry it can break up, but that happened in year two on a couple of occasions.
“People would see that and want to bowl first, but by the time it had dried out you were better off batting first.
“In the majority of our games we batted first and scored about 300 or 250 and were then able to do the work with the ball.
“We had some good experienced players in John Stephenson, myself, Robin Smith, Shuan Udal and Neil Johnson, who was a very good overseas batsman.
“And as well there was Alan Mullally mixed in with the young talents Chris Tremlett, Alex Morris, Will Kendall and Dimitri Mascarenhas.
“So it was a pretty settled side when I look back and I know I did quite well, especially at the Rose Bowl that season where I think I averaged 60 odd.”
BACK ROW (left-right):
Andy Sexton: All-rounder. He is now an independent financial advisor with Premier Financial Planning in Bournemouth.
Jimmy Adams: Batsman who has been plying his trade with Hampshire since 2001.
Iain Brunnschweiler: Wicket-keeper/batsman who played for AFC Totton in an FA Vase Final. He went into coaching and is now an England development coach.
James Hamblin: Oxford University-educated all-rounder. He is now the director of C&H Fabrics in Tonbridge, Kent Irfan Shah: All-rounder who has been the operations manager for Frenford Clubs in Ilford since August 2004.
Tony Middleton: Opening batsman. He stayed on as cricket development officer, then 2nd XI coach, academy director and now batting coach.
Zac Morris: Spinner and the brother of Alex is back living and working in his native Barnsley.
Lawrence Prittipaul: Batsman who is the cousin of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. He now runs a company called Cage cricket.
Alex Morris: All-rounder. He returned to his native Yorkshire where he works as a firefighter at Ossett fire station.
Chris Tremlett: England fast bowler who retired through injury in 2015 and is now working in property investment.
Simon Francis: Fast bowler. He became a PE teacher and is also director of cricket at Warwick School.
Dimitri Mascarenhas: England all-rounder, of Sri Lankan parentage, who went into coaching and recently stepped down from his role as New Zealand’s bowling coach.
Derek Kenway: Batsman. He went to work for the family roofing company Botley Roofing in Southampton after retiring.
Jimmy Cook: First-team coach and formerly prolific-scoring batsman for Somerset who won three South Africa caps. Now runs his own academy. His son Stephen plays for South Africa.
Tim Tremlett: Former seamer with the county, and father of Chris, who was Hamphire’s director of cricket. His father Maurice played for Somerset and England.
Jason Laney: Batsman who is now based in his native Winchester where he runs his own successful plumbing business.
Neil Johnson: Zimbabwe-born all-rounder is now living in South Africa where he spent his childhood.
Shaun Udal: Former England off-spinner. Now running branding company Cotton Graphics in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Will Kendall: Batsman who for the last 11 years has been investment director at Rathbone Investment.
Robin Smith: former England batsman has ran MASURI cricket helmets and RS Cricket Clothing in Perth, Western Australia.
Adi Aymes: Wicketkeeper who went into football management with Fleet Town. Then became fitness coach and general manager of Havant & Waterlooville.
John Stephenson: One-cap England all-rounder who since 2004 has been the head of cricket at the MCC.
Giles White: Batsman who has been Hampshire’s team manager for the past 21 years.
Alan Mullally: England left-arm pace bowler. Since retiring ten years ago has mainly worked in the media.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday April 22 2016