Dimi Mascarenhas is looking forward to being a Hampshire regular again – after playing his first full county match in nearly two years.
The 33-year-old had an instant impact when he made his comeback two weeks ahead of schedule, taking three for 24 against Durham in the Clydesdale Bank 40 on May 15. Hampshire still lost by seven wickets, but Mascarenhas’s performance was a boon.
The former England one-day international all-rounder had been targeting the first game of Hampshire’s Friends Life t20 defence as his return but is now in contention for next week’s LV County Championship match against Lancashire at the Rose Bowl.
Mascarenhas initially came back too early from the Achilles injury he sustained while playing at last year’s Indian Premier League. He aggravated it while bowling the first ball of Hampshire’s successful Twenty20 Cup campaign a year ago.
But he is now hoping to play in two more CB40 games this weekend after a thorough, 12-month rehabilitation. “I wasn’t expecting to be playing now so it’s all a bonus,” he said.
“Hopefully I can play in the next two one-day games and maybe even the Championship next week. But we’ve just got to see how next week goes and take it one step at a time. It’s just good to be playing again.”
Mascarenhas proved his fitness while scoring runs and taking wickets in back-to-back Second XI games against Glamorgan at the Rose Bowl last week.
Mascarenhas’s appearance at the Emirates was his first List A match since September 2009. “It felt totally different to playing in the second team. That was just a case of going through the motions, having a hit and a bowl and getting my Achilles used to everything again,” he added. “The game at Durham was full on, doing what you get paid for.
“I was definitely nervous, but once I got into it and started hitting the lines and lengths I got better and I felt good. I bowled a terrible first two overs but Macca (Neil McKenzie) took an amazing catch and it was good to get a couple more wickets.”
Mascarenhas also hit two boundaries before he was bowled by Ben Stokes for nine, with Hampshire all out for 161. “It was a shame to miss one, and if I was in hitting mode I’d have smashed it!” he said. “When I was out there I was thinking we could get 200 but we just couldn’t get a good partnership together.
“After we lost a few wickets we thought 180 would have been a good score, but it wasn’t to be.” Mascarenhas now has his sights set on completing his first game at the Rose Bowl in 20 months, another Clydesdale Bank 40 Group B match, against Northants. “Friday at home, under lights – that could be a nice comeback,” he smiled.