Benny Howell has agreed a return to Hampshire, after turning down an offer to remain with Gloucestershire. Howell, 33, has signed a three-year white-ball deal with the county where he initially came through before leaving in search of further opportunities a decade ago.
The allrounder, who last month won his first England Lions cap, has developed a reputation on the global T20 stage for his “fast spinner” variations, playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, Big Bash League, Pakistan Super League and being signed in this year’s IPL auction.
Howell helped Gloucestershire lift the 2015 Royal London Cup and reach T20 Finals Day in 2020. He took more than 300 wickets across the three formats across 11 seasons in Bristol – including 142 in T20, with an economy of 7.17.
His short-form skills saw him play a key role in Birmingham Phoenix getting to the final of the inaugural edition of the Hundred, and his arrival will strengthen the hand of Blast champions Hampshire ahead of their title defence in 2023.
“Benny is recognised as one of the best T20 allrounders in England and it’s great that he wants to finish his career where it began,” Giles White, Hampshire director of cricket, said. “He adds great depth to our squad and improves both our batting and bowling resources. It will be great to have him back with the group and we are all looking forward to seeing him perform in a Hawks shirt again next season.”
Steve Snell, performance director at Gloucestershire, made it clear that the club had hoped to retain Howell’s services.
“Benny has been a terrific cricketer for Gloucestershire over the last 10 years,” Snell said. “Not only has he been an exciting and entertaining player to watch, to an extent he has redefined the art of T20 medium-paced bowling and in some respects is a pioneer.
“Naturally we are disappointed he is leaving us, especially as we made an extremely competitive offer to try to keep Benny at Gloucestershire. I’d like to thank him for his magnificent contribution to Gloucestershire Cricket; he will be missed by everyone at the Seat Unique Stadium.”
Howell has developed a reputation as a cult cricketer on the county circuit, and despite his age could still be an outside bet to win a T20 cap as England search for solutions to their recent slump in the format.
“Hampshire is the place where I learnt a great amount during my early career,” Howell said. “It was always an elite environment so I’m extremely excited to rejoin the club after ten years away and hopefully I can help the side compete for more trophies in the future.”