ENGLAND batsman John Crawley has been given the nod to captain Hampshire next season in the wake of Shane Warne's season-long ban from first-class cricket.
Crawley beat off competition from team-mates Will Kendall, Farnborough-born Shaun Udal and new overseas signing Wasim Akram to take the captaincy - bringing an end to month-long speculation over who was to lead Hampshire's promotion charge from division two this season.
Crawley, 31, joined Hampshire from Lancashire last summer after having captained at Old Trafford for the previous two years.
His new role sees him take over from Robin Smith, who retired from the post after five years in the job.
Crawley was straight into action on Monday morning, leading out a strong Hampshire side to their first pre-season friendly match, a two-day game at The Rose Bowl, against Somerset.
Nicknamed Creepy by his team-mates, Crawley said: "Naturally I'm delighted and looking forward to the challenge.
"The team we have here are well capable of winning promotion from the county championship and National League and that is the ambition."
But due to the intense competition for the captaincy, team manager Paul Terry has announced that there will not be an appointed vice-captain to Crawley, with the team seemingly intent on crossing that bridge nearer the time and allowing their vast experience to see them through in Crawley's absence.
Terry surmised: "We have a number of leaders within the squad that could fulfil the role should it be required.
"John has experience in captaincy, has a good standing in the game and the respect from everyone in the dressing room."
Meanwhile, Akram is expected to arrive in the country today (Tuesday) and could play a part in the two-day game against Surrey at the Rose Bowl starting Thursday.