He scored over 900 first-class runs for the County in 2011, and now promising all-rounder Liam Dawson has been duly rewarded with a new contract extension until the end of 2013. At only 21, he, alongside a large bulk of the Royals’ squad are set to be at the newly named Ageas Bowl for the foreseeable future as the right-handed batsman predicts exciting times to come at Hampshire.
Dawson enjoyed rich fortune last year, hitting 908 runs in the County Championship, which included two centuries and his highest first-class knock of 169. Despite barely being out of his teens, he boasts a wealth of experience with the club and abroad enjoying winters away in Australia and a brief stay in Zimbabwe.
The opening batter has recently returned from his six-week trip down under where he gained some valuable playing time, and now he is fully prepared for the 2012 County season as he and the club hopes to build the foundations for a bright future – and with the new contract in the bag Dawson hopes to be here for the long-run.
“It is nice to sign a new contract extension,” he said. “Obviously it is a great club and exciting things are going on here. We have just been named the Ageas Bowl which is good for the club and good for the entire Hampshire area and hopefully we can get some results and get some people down here watching us.
“Hopefully us as a squad can now stick together over the next few years – that is the main reason for me singing. We are all friends as well growing up playing age group cricket together and we are between 20-22 years of age and if we are together for the next four or five years then I am sure the club will be in a good position and we will be producing positive results for the club. We will have to wait and see what is possible but we have to take this season as it comes first.”
After the departure of several experienced heads, the club certainly has a fresh young look to it. But prejudice to their age, the squad is graced with youngsters who have the playing experience to match most long-serving professionals – and now Dawson believes it is time for them to step up and take up the responsibility of moving the club forward.
“It is a new era,” he added. “We have lost a few players and we have gone down the route of a young team. But some people may say it is a young team but a lot of us have played a lot of cricket, so age wise we are a young team, but we have the experience needed – we are not an inexperienced team and it is time that we take some responsibility.
“There are three or four of us – myself, James Vince and Danny Briggs have all played a lot of cricket, and Chris Wood and Michael Bates both played a full season last year. We know are games now and it is just about being consistent and winning games for the club.”
The summer is almost upon us and the wait is nearly over as the 2012 County season is now just over a month away. But before the players can settle into their daily playing routine they have the pleasure of once again flying out to sunny Barbados for their preseason tour.
“We had a successful Twenty20 campaign there last year and we are looking forward to going back out there again next month and get the practice we need that we may not get here due to the weather. It is good preparation, playing against other counties on good wickets will be a good test and it will be good for us and good for the teams we will be playing against and good preparation before the season starts.”
Dawson hopes that the Caribbean tour and his time in Australia will now put himself and the entire Hampshire squad in good stead as they aim for good start to their 2012 domestic campaign which kicks off against Gloucestershire on April 12 at the Ageas Bowl.
“It was just good to play some matches in Australia,” he added. “I am at that stage where I know my game and it is just a matter of getting some match practice and honing my skills in matches so it was a valuable trip for me. I was also able to get a few overs under my belt which was the main part of the trip which will hopefully put me in good stead for the summer as well.
“I think with the season starting, the aim for any division two club is to get back into division one and that will be our aim too. We are a big club and want to be playing division one cricket. Hopefully we will start the season better this year so all the boys will be working hard out there to ensure we do this.
“We haven’t had a good start to the season for probably three years now so we hope for a positive hopefully good consistency at the beginning will put us in a good position for the middle part of the year.”
The boys will soon be packing their bags for the long flight out to the beautiful island of Barbados. They hope to relax and get some valuable playing time, but on their return to the UK the serious work begins as the season starts – and Dawson hopes that it will signal the beginning of a bright and successful future for the Hampshire Royals.