On the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast, a story about Mohammad Abbas and Pep Guardiola was told that felt too good to be true – until Hampshire’s very own Keith Barker confirmed it.

The story, relayed by freelance journalist and regular Wisden.com contributor Cameron Ponsonby, went as follows:

“I got forwarded this fun anecdote about Mohammad Abbas,” Ponsonby laughed. “Which was on WhatsApp so it is 100 per cent true and gospel and must be taken as such. Journalistically, I don’t know if this is amazing, but it’s fine, we’ll carry on.

“Part of [Abbas’] deal at Hampshire is that he has the premier penthouse suite in the Hilton that overlooks the ground. So Manchester City were playing against Southampton and City were staying in the Hilton.

“City put in a request that Guardiola would take Abbas’ suite off him for like three or two nights or whatever. And Hampshire went ‘no, that’s Mo Abbas’ suite. Pep you go down the hallway, mate’. That’s the regard he his held down there. If it’s true. No idea. But I want it to be.”

Remarkably, the story was immediately backed up by Abbas’ teammate Keith Barker, who confirmed it’s veracity on Instagram. “This is 100% true,” he commented under a clip posted to Instagram. “The head of cricket operations is an Arsenal fan and said ‘no chance’.” The story received further backing from ESPN Cricinfo who confirmed the tale with two further sources, one of whom privately posed the question: “which is more intimidating to play against, tiki-taka or the wobble seam?”

Abbas has started the season in wonderful form for his county, taking nine wickets in a player-of-the-match display in Hampshire’s opening round victory over Nottinghamshire before he removed Surrey’s all-England top-three of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Ollie Pope on his way to a six-wicket haul.

It is exactly this type of form that has seen Abbas’ become a much loved figure around Hampshire, where he has already taken over 100 Championship wickets at an average of less than 17.