HAMPSHIRE will hand a debut to India Test star Ajinkya Rahane when they play their first first-class match on the Isle of Wight for 57 years.

The historic match at Newclose, which starts tomorrow, will see Hampshire up against England’s Stuart Broad as Nottinghamshire provide the opposition for the first Specsavers County Championship match at the ground created by the late Brian Gardener a decade ago.

The founder of Newclose CC passed away in 2015 but will be remembered fondly when Hampshire walk out on his field of dreams on Monday morning.

Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove said: “It’s a massive shame Brian won’t be there to enjoy this occasion.

“To have first-class cricket at Newclose is possibly beyond his expectations, but it’s amazing we’re able to realise this in his memory.

“We’re all very excited about it. It will be very different to what the players are used to at The Ageas Bowl, it will be more like Northlands Road in terms of the amenity.

“It’s a very pretty ground and I’m sure it will be a very good wicket.”

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A Hampshire 2nd XI game at Newclose 

This will be Hampshire’s first home match on an outground since 2008, their last appearance at May’s Bounty, Basingstoke.

They needed an alternative venue as the Ageas Bowl is being prepared for World Cup warm-up matches between England and Australia on Saturday and Australia v Sri Lanka on Monday, May 27.

But if all goes well, this is unlikely to be Hampshire’s last match at Newclose.

“We’ll see how this goes first,” said Bransgrove.

“We’re not ruling anything out or in but we’ve been interested in the ground for a long time and I’ve lobbied in favour of it for many years.”

The former J. Samuel White ground in Cowes hosted a Hampshire county championship match for seven successive seasons from 1956.

But Hampshire have not played a first-class match anywhere on the Island since Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie captained the defending champions to a draw against Worcestershire in May 1962.

Roy Marshall made 99 and Derek Shackleton took match figures of 9-95 against a Worcestershire team including Tom Graveney and Norman Gifford.

But several Hampshire players at least have experience of playing at Newclose which has hosted several 2nd XI matches since 2011.

Opening batsman Oliver Soames, who scored 62 on his championship debut against Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Thursday, made 117 as Hampshire beat Middlesex in a second eleven championship match at Newclose in April. Felix Organ made 127 before taking 4-39.

Joe Weatherley made 85 while captaining Hampshire II against MCC Young Cricketers in 2015 and Sam Northeast and Tom Alsop have made T20 half-centuries there.

Nottinghamshire are without a win from their first three Championship matches and suffered a three-day, eight-wicket thrashing by Essex at Chelmsford last week.

Meanwhile, Hampshire are full of confidence after their 314-run win against Warwickshire at Edgbaston on Friday.

Their eagerly-awaited first match at Newclose begins a huge week that concludes with the Royal London One-Day Cup final against Somerset at Lord’s on Saturday.

There will be on-site car parking, park-and-walk, ferry-and-ride and ferry-and-drive options for all four days at Newclose.

Full details and ticket prices are available at ageasbowl.com.

Hampshire (from): Weatherley, Soames, Alsop, Northeast, Rossouw, Dawson, Donald, Berg, Barker, Abbott, Edwards, Ajinkya Rahane, Holland, Crane.