Cricket had probably reached the county of Hampshire by the end of the sixteenth century. A Latin poem by Robert Matthew in 1647 contains a probable reference to cricket being played by pupils of Winchester College and, if authentic, it is the earliest known mention of cricket in Hampshire. The earliest known use of Hampshire in a team name occurred in 1729 when a combined Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex XI played against Kent. Hampshire's team achieved fame when the Hambledon Club was active during the second half of the eighteenth century and frequently played against teams representing the rest of England.
Hampshire cricket went into decline following the demise of Hambledon but their county teams were still considered first-class. On 12 August 1863, Hampshire County Cricket Club (Hampshire CCC) was founded and its team was recognised as first-class until 1885. They lost their status in 1886 because of several years in which they were unprofitable and had poor results. In 1895, when the County Cricket Championship was enlarged, Hampshire was invited to join as one of five expansion teams. Their home base through the twentieth century was the Antelope Ground in Southampton. In 2001, they took up residence at the new Rose Bowl ground in Eastleigh. The Rose Bowl began hosting international fixtures in 2003 and now regularly stages limited over international and Twenty20 international fixtures. It has also staged three Test matches between 2011 and 2018.
Hampshire have won the County Championship twice, in 1961 and 1973. They have won twelve limited overs competitions. There have been many famous Hampshire cricketers beginning in Hambledon days with John Small, Richard Nyren, Tom Brett, Tom Sueter, David Harris, Noah Mann, Tom Taylor, Tom Walker, Billy Beldham and others. Since the county club was formed, its leading players have included Phil Mead, Derek Shackleton, Roy Marshall, Barry Richards, Andy Roberts, Gordon Greenidge, Malcolm Marshall, Robin Smith and Shane Warne.