HAMPSHIRE, England –– Fidel Edwards impressed on his Hampshire debut, before declaring: “I’m here to bowl fast and take wickets.”
The former West Indies speedster became the first Barbadian to represent Hampshire at Dean Park since Malcolm Marshall when he played in the T20 friendly against Dorset on a cold, wet bank holiday afternoon.
Edwards felt the chill as he stepped out at the historic ground where Hampshire won their 1961 and 1973 County Championship titles and which was once graced by the likes of fellow West Indians Gordon Greenidge and Andy Roberts.
But after removing his woolly hat he bowled with the sort of pace that will bolster Hampshire’s attack against champions Yorkshire at Headingley on Sunday.
His three overs cost 24 runs but included a couple of hostile bouncers on a slow wicket. All in all, there was plenty to encourage director of cricket Giles White.
He said: “They weren’t ideal conditions for Fidel, especially as only landed yesterday [Sunday]. But he went really well, he bowled with good pace, bowled yorkers and set fields for the bouncer.
“He’s got something we haven’t got –– proper pace. And he impressed with his control as well. We’ll monitor him in the next few days and get his workload up but there’s a good chance he’ll be ready for Yorkshire.”
Edwards took 165 Test wickets at 37.8 before winning the last of his 55 caps two-and-a-half years ago (he has also played 70 limited-overs internationals).
With his West Indies career now seemingly over he has signed as a Kolpak player. His registration as such will be secured at Lord’s tomorrow in a meeting which also be attended by White.
Edwards, who has taken two five-fors for the West Indies at Lord’s, has played eight Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals in England.
He has no doubts as to his remit with Hampshire. “I’ve just got to bowl fast and get wickets,” he said.
“Hopefully the weather gets better but I’m accustomed to it! It was good to get a game, I was pretty stiff but after the first couple of balls it came naturally.
“This is a new chapter, it’s exciting for me and hopefully I can play a few T20s as well.”
Edwards is likely to play in today’s T20 double-header against Sussex at Hove, weather permitting.
Meanwhile, Jackson Bird, the player Edwards has replaced, has not returned to Australia after all.
The Australian will continue to be monitored by Hampshire’s medical staff as he recovers from the neck injury that has ruled him out of the foreseeable future.
Hampshire are hopeful that he will be available in mid-summer, which could coincide with Edwards’ departure for the Caribbean Premier League in July. Edwards will also be available for the last two months of the county season, as originally planned.