As comments and opinions fluctuate as to who should be our overseas player next year, I am increasingly of the opinion that John Morris' hand will be forced.
There have been comments on message boards that we should sign a bowler, rather than a batsman. This to me falls flat on several counts.
First, there are no quick bowlers available of top quality. The intensity of the international programme means that any quickie worth his salt is already running in 10 months a year and simply cannot fit a county season in, even if his body is up for it. The only available seamer of any ability is Isa Guha of England ladies...
Seriously, being a quickie today is a thankless task and I am astonished and grateful that Charl Langeveldt has proved such a diamond. The next level down is a big gamble though. Dillon du Preez came from South Africa to Leicester with a big reputation after a fine domestic winter. He's done OK but had had his share of injuries and I'd question whether 23 wickets at this stage is worth a Kolpak payment. Vernon Philander came from South Africa as a budding all rounder and left with a batting average of 15 and a bowling one of 38.
As for spinners, there's a handful in the game but they're all Indians or Sri Lankans and they are involved in so much cricket that they're only free for around four weeks, which is barely worthwhile.
This pretty much rules out bowlers to my mind. Even the Aussies don't have much in the background and the likes of Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger have hardly impressed in county stints, nor did Magoffin do especially well for Worcester. These guys are just outside the Aussie top rank, which must mean they're very worried for when Brett Lee retires.
So it's a batsman. The same goes for Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani batsman as bowlers - they're in ten a penny, but megabucks tournaments all year round in cricketing outposts so simply aren't available. There are no decent batsmen in Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, nor indeed in the Caribbean. Chris Gayle is like the little girl in the rhyme - when he's good, he's very, very good but when he's bad - he's awful.
Chanderpaul is a fine player but dare I say a lesser talent on the County grind, and that's it. Sarwan did little at Gloucestershire and Bravo was a disaster at Kent. New Zealand have a fine player in Vettori, but even he did little in stints at Notts and Warwick. Now Fleming has gone they've a couple of batsmen but the star turn, Brendon McCullum, can name his price in India and doesn't need county cricket.
Which leaves South Africa and Australia. It may be feasible that Langeveldt could put us in touch with one of their Test players, but their Board are very protective of them. Amla or Prince might be a good signing, but Kallis wouldn't want to come and Smith wouldn't be allowed to burn out. I felt this season that Loots Bosman, a specialist 20/20 player and phenomenal hitter, might have been worth bringing in for the 20/20, and we suffered from the absence of an overseas star in that competition.
As for Australia - well, they tour next summer, so much will depend on who is in the party and who isn't. I said on the 606 board early in the year that Sean Marsh would have been a good signing but he's now in the Aussie squad (at least for one dayers) and James Hopes is also in the frame. The market is very restricted and there's a lot of Jon Moss's and Travis Birt's out there who could be a success but might well not be.
The state of flux in the Aussie side may be a route to a bigger name. As Watson and Marsh come in, so Matt Hayden may well go out. I suspect the giant opener may be up for one more crack at England in the Ashes, but if not might be persuaded to "do a Langer" and have another crack at County cricket after earlier success with Northants and Hampshire. There may be others who might not make the squad but feel that being in England during an Ashes tour could see them in poll position in the event of injury.
So, Simon Katich it is....
Seriously, you'll see from the above that there really are few options out there. One question I've asked myself this season is - would Ian Harvey as overseas player have done better than Rogers? Would Damien Martyn? Both were playing in India with fair success but might struggle over a county season.
After due consideration, I'd offer two options to Chris Rogers, who I still feel is in pole position for next year. One is Luke Pomersbach, a 24-year old left hander who averages over 50 in first class cricket and boasts centuries against both English and South African touring sides. He still only has less than 30 first class innings, however, so would be a major gamble.
The other is someone who is an outstanding player, as we know all too well, but doesn't seem to find favour with the Aussie selectors for some reason. Although he made a few one dayers in the Caribbean, he didn't cement a place in the side and may struggle to get a place on the Ashes tour in a country with so many outstanding batsmen. Yet that batting is brilliant, his fielding the same and his bowling a more than useful asset to any side. His previous stint in county cricket saw him break one day records, impress all those who saw him and almost win his county a game at Derby against all the odds.
Ladies and gentlemen, anyone for Cameron White?