Not so long ago, Hampshire teenager Charlie Dean was collecting Charlotte Edwards’ autograph.

Now the 16 year-old is preparing for the Kia Super League season as a member of the Southern Vipers squad skippered by the former England captain.

“I’ve always looked up to her so it’s amazing and a bit surreal to be playing with her now,” smiled Charlie, an off-spinning all rounder who has just completed her GCSEs at Portsmouth Grammar School.

“I used to run around the boundary to get her signature as a kid after the England games that we always used to go to.”

Edwards is aiming to lead the Vipers to a successful defence of the inaugural KSL title they won last year - starting against Western Storm, last year’s runners-up at The Ageas Bowl this afternoon (2.30pm).

“She’s great, really supportive and is helping me on my journey through cricket,” continued Charlie, who is from Havant.

One of the new faces in the Vipers squad, Charlie has replaced Romsey’s Katie George as its youngest member.

The Vipers are without Lydia Greenway and Sara McGlashan this year but New Zealand’s Suzie Bates has returned and new signings include ex-Proteas captain Mignon du Preez, West Indies teenager Hayley Matthews and Danielle Wyatt, a member of England’s victorious World Cup squad.

“It’s amazing to learn from what they have to offer,” added Charlie.

“They’re a great bunch of girls to train and play alongside.”

Charlie began playing cricket through her dad Steve, a former Havant CC and Minor Counties player with Staffordshire.

“I joined in with the boys when he dragged me down to his cricket club’s nets and have done ever since,” she said. “I’ve developed my own style but try to play as technically correct as I can.”

Charlie has represented Hampshire since she was ten and last summer captained the U15s to victory in the Royal London County Cup final.

She took five wickets on her debut for PGS boys 1st XI earlier this season, captains Hampshire U17s as an under 16 and is Hampshire Women’s leading wicket-taker this year (18 at 13.6).

Hampshire head coach Nick Denning says Charlie is not in Southern Vipers’ squad ‘to make up the numbers’.

Denning has been impressed with what he has seen of the Havant youngster since she was called up to the Vipers’ Regional Development squad at the end of last season.

He said: “She’s looking good and learning very quickly.

“She works hard and is very coachable, which helps so much.

“You can see a progression. She’s a very different player to where she was, even in October.

“She’s not here to make up the numbers, she’s here on merit.

“There aren’t many girls around who spin the ball as much as she does.

“She’ll come more into the reckoning when we need more slow bowlers.”

Youth is a feature of the Vipers squad, which starts its title defence against last year’s runners up.

“We’re obviously more experienced in T20 cricket but our average age is a little younger with the likes of Hayley Matthews and Tara Norris only 19,” continued Denning.

“It would be lovely to repeat last year but I think the competition’s going to be stronger.”

Southern Vipers squad: Edwards (captain), Farrant, Wyatt, Brindle, Bates, Matthews, Adams, George, Smith, Burt, Norris, Collis, Rudd, Dean, Du Preez.


Today: Western Storm (h), August 15: Loughborough Lightning (a), 20: Surrey Stars (h), 23: Lancashire Thunder (a), 26: Yorkshire Diamonds (h, Arundel).