Benny Howell has seen several younger Hampshire players make their first-class debut before him, but has finally been rewarded for his patience.
Many Hampshire Academy alumni have got their chance while in their teens. Liam Dawson, a contemporary of Howell’s, was only 17 when he made his debut. James Vince, Danny Briggs and Hamza Riazuddin were 18 and Michael Bates and Chris Wood were both 19 when they made the breakthrough.
But 22-year-old Howell has made up for lost time this year. He impressed when he got his chance at the Caribbean T20, top scoring for Hampshire in the final against Trinidad & Tobago.
And he made his maiden hundred in only his sixth one-day appearance against Surrey at Whitgift on May 22, becoming Hampshire’s youngest limited-overs centurion for eight years.
So when leading run-scorer Dawson was ruled out of this week’s LV County Championship match against Lancashire with a hamstring injury, Howell was the obvious man to come in.
“It’s taken a lot of patience, especially with younger guys coming through and doing well,” he admitted. “Being in the seconds has stopped me going to the next step but I’ve kept going. With a lucky break it can change quickly and I’ve had a bit of luck this year.
“Going to the Caribbean and playing a big part and expressing myself was a good experience and now I just want to keep scoring runs.”
Hampshire manager Giles White has worked with Howell for many years, having previously been the county’s Second XI and academy coach. “Benny played very well in the winter, he played his part and won us games and now he’s come in at the top of the order and performed extremely well,” said White.
“He played a very mature innings on Sunday, ticked it over in middle and hit some lusty blows towards the end. He showed what a talented cricketer he is.”