Former England captain Nasser Hussain is backing Surrey and Hampshire to have strong seasons.

Sky Sports cricket commentator Hussain visited Churcher’s College in Petersfield to share anecdotes and raise funds for local charity Maddy’s Mark.

Hussain watched the Churcher’s College first team play against a visiting MCC team and led a coaching session for the under-12s before the evening fundraising event in front of an audience of more than 400 people.

Maddy’s Mark was established in memory of Old Churcherian Maddy Lawrence – who died from an infection at Southmead Hospital 16 days after dislocating her hip during a rugby match at the University of the West of England.

Hussain explained the charity is close to his heart as he knows Maddy’s parents Karen and Simon Lawrence.

“It's a great cause,” he said. “My wife’s known Karen for 30 years – she came to our wedding. Karen and Simon used to live in Essex – they’re family friends. I was asked if there is anything I can do at Churcher’s College. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to do something – it was a no-brainer.”

Surrey are currently top of the County Championship as they seek a third title in a row, and Hussain is backing Surrey to continue to impress in Alec Stewart’s final season as director of cricket.

“Alec is a great man and has been a seriously good director of cricket,” said Hussain. “Surrey are a fantastic side. The system they have, the catchment area, the schools – everything about Surrey is impressive. It's a well-run club. They bring through their own high-quality players – which is very important. There are a lot of good things happening at The Oval.”

Hampshire – who have won the Vitality Blast T20 title three times – start their T20 campaign at home to Surrey on Thursday, May 30, and Hussain expects the Utilita Bowl-based outfit to be strong in all formats.

“I think Hampshire are generally strong across the board,” said Hussain. “Hampshire are another well-run club that could challenge across all formats. I’ve always been a fan of James Vince – I think he’s a fabulous multi-format player who probably should have played for England more. Liam Dawson is also a fantastic cricketer. Hampshire produce good cricketers. It’s a club that should be challenging across all formats.”

Hussain also spoke about the challenges facing grassroots cricket.

“Club cricket has been stretched to the limit with finances,” said Hussain. “It’s still strong – there is a lot of love for it and people want to play it. It is still healthy, but financially it is tricky. Cricket is not a cheap game. You need pitches, local authorities to make sure the pitches are okay, good drainage, cricket balls. It’s not just about rocking up and playing cricket. A lot of clubs can’t afford covers. Financially, all the money in the game should filter down to grassroots level.”

Hussain is looking forward to the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States and expects defending champions England to put up a strong showing, although he thinks the tournament is wide open.

“It’s unbelievably difficult to predict,” said Hussain. “England could win it, looking at the way Jos Buttler is playing recently. You also look at the power of Phil Salt and Will Jacks – and England are the holders. You look at Australia and the way Travis Head is smashing it and some of the players they have in their batting line-up, and they look strong. India are strong, and West Indies are playing at home.

“Anyone can win that tournament so adapting to conditions, adapting to the pressure situations and winning key games will be important. Teams need to work out what is going to be successful and what a par score is, because some of those pitches could end up being tired. If you look at sides who have won it, in general it has been the teams who take wickets. The only way to stop great hitters of a ball is by getting wickets. The old days of drying them up and bowling dot balls are long gone. Now the only way is to get them out, so you need wicket-taking bowlers.”