Sunday, 6 July 2008

Overseas - overpaid, over here?

Many will remember with misty eyes the halcyon days of the overseas stars. The 1960's and 70's, when everyone wanted to play County cricket (well, almost everyone, Graeme Pollock didn't fancy it at all but was on a very good salary in South Africa).

Most fans of the time could go through the counties in alphabetical order and rhyme off the stars - real stars - that each county had from abroad. Chris Wilkins at Derby, Keith Boyce at Essex, Majid Khan or Roy Fredericks at Glamorgan, Mike Procter at Gloucester, Barry Richards at Hampshire - it was a golden period that we thought would last for ever.

Sadly, it didn't. We all went to 2 overseas stars, which was great, but then the back door players - the ones with Irish Grannies, a father who'd once sung the national anthem - started to come in and now we're awash with them. The growth of international cricket and lucrative, if otherwise pointless, tournaments means that the very best overseas players will never be seen in County colours, unless it is in the short form of the game, the monster we call 20/20. It's a little like asking Al Pacino to do a walk on in Coronation Street, or get the Beatles to do an advertising jingle...

That then leaves teams with two options - a lesser light for a full season, or a big name for a part of it. With respect to Chris Rogers, a top bloke and a good cricketer, he is in the first category, whereas Ricky Ponting or Matt Hayden would have been in the first.

So who is doing well out of their player this year. Apologies if I've got an overseas player wrong here, as there are so many Kolpaks out there it is hard work to figure out who is who, but here's things as I see it

Championship

Derby - Chris Rogers 42 batting
Durham - Neil McKenzie - 19 batting
Essex - Danish Kaneria 19 wkts at 25
Glamorgan - Jason Gillespie 25 batting, 14 wkts at 29
Gloucester - Marcus North 35 batting, 9 wkts at 39
Hants - Shane Bond 19 wkts at 19
Kent- Martin Van Jaarsveld - 76 batting, 5 wkts at 6 each
Lancs - Brad Hodge 44, Yousuf 124
Leics - Botha Dipenaar 28 batting
Middlesex - Vernon Philander 15 batting, 10 wkts at 28
Northants - Nick Boje 62 batting, 20 wkts at 30
Notts - Adam Voges 38 battting
Somerset - Justin Langer - 48 batting
Surrey - Matt Nicholson - 80 batting, 86 bowling
Sussex - Mushtaq Ahmed 16 wkts at 38
Warwick - Zondeki 9 wkts at 42
Worcs - Magoffin 23 wkts at 33
Yorks - Naved 1 wkt at 98

Even allowing for the odd error (is Boje overseas at Northants? Is Dippenaar at Leics?) there are some spectacularly average figures there.

Neither Brad Hodge nor Mohammad Yousuf played long enough at Lancs to merit a true average, but there are some heads hanging in shame around the country. Matt Nicholson is doing well as a bat for Surrey, but his bowling is awful and supposedly his strong suit. Mushtaq appears on the wane and is increasingly injury prone at Sussex but he's at least played more than some.

To me, there's only two players genuinely earning their money on overseas star performances this season. Step forward Martin Van Jaarsveld at Kent and Shane Bond at Hampshire. Chris Rogers and Justin Langer have done OK for their counties, as of course has Nick Boje, but after that...

Maybe the time is coming when some of these players should be on performance-related pay. There might then be less money going out of the country on ordinary players delivering very ordinary performances.

I will accept that some 20/20 players did well, Herschelle Gibbs, Lou Vincent, Albie Morkel among them, and that there are also Kolpaks playing very well - take a bow Charl Langeveldt and HD Ackerman - but the overall standard is very poor and perhaps it is as well that the Kolpak loophole will be closed and young British players, as well as the England team, may benefit.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Your pages make good reading. I certainly agree with your comments in respect of Barry Richards and Shane Bond where Hampshire are concerned.