Graeme Welch is proud to be "going out on a high" when he leaves Warwickshire later this month to become lead bowling coach at Hampshire.

Edgbaston legend Welch will make the switch to the south coast after helping steer the Bears to the county championship title in 2021.

It is the fourth Bears championship triumph of which ‘Pop’ has been a part, as a player in 1994 and 1995 and bowling coach in 2012 and 2021. But while Warwickshire look forward to defending their title in 2022 and working towards building a sustained era of success, Welch will be helping Hampshire try to win the championship for only the third time – and first since 1973.  

“You have to keep moving forward and I spent some time in Southampton during The Hundred and just liked the feel of the place,” Welch said. “I saw what Giles White and their management team was like and what Hampshire was like and I thought this is the time for a new challenge.

“They have a very strong first-team bowling attack and my mission is to develop what’s underneath. The senior guys will eventually move on so it’s a case of getting that production line coming through, working with the academy lads and through the age-groups. It’s a great project for me because it’s what I enjoy doing.

“Part of me is sad to leave the Bears, of course, but it’s good to be going out on a high. Ashley Giles brought me back in 2008 when the club was in transition and he wanted me to build a championship-winning bowling attack. I managed to do that and it’s been a similar process this time round.

“Edgbaston is like my home, I have spent 18 years of my life there and have got a lot of great friends at the club and in the area. It’s not like I’m leaving forever, but coaching roles usually have a shelf-life of around four or five years. Looking back over my career, that’s always when I’ve moved on, either to try to better myself or to create a new project and challenge.”

Graeme Welch

It will certainly be a strange experience for Pop to be parking his gear in the visitors’ dressing room when Hampshire visit Edgbaston in 2022. But he is very excited by the challenge which awaits him.

 “I’ll move down in January,” he said. “Initially I’ll be in the hotel on the ground which feels a bit like my second home as I’ve spent about ten weeks there this year, but then we’ve got a barn conversion to move into so that will be nice.

“Part of my heart will always be with Warwickshire but I can’t wait to get my teeth into the new challenge and try to build a strong bowling group with real depth to it which can help bring some trophies to Hampshire.”

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