Monday, 10 January 2011

Monday musings

As a somewhat casual observer, given I’m not a huge fan of T20, watching the IPL auction unfold over the weekend veered between the fascinating and bizarre. The number of relatively unknown Australians signed can be attributed to the fact that there are so many Aussies involved in the organisation of squads. Worthy as they may be I’m not sure how Chris Lynn and Nathan Rimmington get into what is supposed to be the biggest cricket competition in the world.

They may at least represent value for money, but I was astonished to see Doug Bollinger and Dan Christian earn a fortune on relatively modest skills. That the former went for $700K was mind-blowing, but then Christian went to Deccan for $900K. The state of Australian cricket has been evident this winter, yet their players still make up the bulk of imports.

Bollinger will have been cheered by such a handsome payday. Who wouldn’t be? Worcestershire fans who recall his 16 wickets at 44 in 2007 will doubtless be incredulous though. Maybe his subsequent hairweave gave him additional powers, but the fact that he couldn’t hold down a place in a poor Australian attack this winter speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, Christian bowled six overs for 66 against England earlier today. Granted he made a breezy fifty in the Presidents XI innings, but I’d reckon that a net deficit. For the money he’s set to earn, the player will be under a lot of pressure and presumably his new side were unaware of his statistics for Hampshire in the T20 last year. 33 runs in eight innings at an average of eight and nine wickets at 31 was a modest return that he will need to improve on substantially.

To be fair to him, he’s had a couple of good performances in Australia this winter, but I’m not sure a couple of quick tonks justify that sort of money, nor that I’d swap him for Greg Smith or Wes Durston. Smith at $20K would have been a far better deal, while Wes at $50K would have given an explosive batsman at the top of the order. Christian, nearly 28 years old, has not yet made a century in first-class cricket yet is billed as a ‘dangerous customer with a bat in his hand…’ Surely not that dangerous? By the same token, Steffan Jones could legitimately call himself ‘Lethal Weapon’ and Wayne Madsen is ‘Licensed to Kill’…

Such figures, and many others alongside them, reinforce my previously expressed opinion that the big names will not be seen in county cricket again and certainly not at Derbyshire. The likes of Ross Taylor (£1 million), Cameron White ($1.1 million) AB de Villiers ($1.1 million) and Yusuf Pathan ($2.1 million) have been mentioned by contributors to this blog or myself over the winter which now looks a little silly.

Even a workmanlike professional like James Hopes went for $350K, which illustrates how hard it must be to get players to even consider a county stint for (I’d guess) £70-80K. It also makes a mockery of suggestions that our committee millionaires should make up the difference for a big name. Looking at those figures, it is as realistic as my chances of beating Usain Bolt in a 100 metre sprint…

Be serious. We would need £100K per season as a minimum, more if we wanted a second overseas for the T20. One correspondent on 606 suggests we need to do it to remain competitive, or die. I think that we can remain competitive with sensible recruitment but WOULD die if we spent at that level. There is no economic sense to spending more than you have, as plenty of football fans are well aware.

Our hunt for an overseas player will go on and at least John Morris and others around the country now know who is and isn’t available for the English season. James Franklin, for example, has been linked with Lancashire but will be with Mumbai until June. His higher profile countrymen, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori will be in India too, so that pretty much rules out a New Zealander in the county game in 2011.

I thought Colin Ingram might have been a good option for someone, but the South African, who did so well for Spondon as a professional, has signed for Delhi for $100K, while Faf du Plessis has gone to Chennai for $120K. The timing of their seasons has meant Australians and South Africans are in demand, which makes the fact that no one moved for Robin Peterson or Loots Bosman slightly surprising. Both were available for moderate sums and have had their moments in the short format, but lesser known countrymen were taken up instead.

There will still be options though. I’ve previously mentioned Indian batsman Wasim Jaffer, scourge of the Yorkshire leagues and erstwhile international as a possibility. He wasn’t picked up yesterday so would theoretically be available for the full season. The twenty-over thrash isn’t the strongest suit for a cultured player and he has missed out this time, though I am sure he would score heavily in the county game, especially as the summer progressed.

Curiously the less talented but glamorous Saurabh Tiwary earned a nice $1.6 million on the back of a few well-timed slogs last year, an extraordinary sum. With just three first-class centuries to his name, Tiwary has secured his future. While he obviously has a good eye and is a clean hitter, I’m not convinced he’s THAT good. By the same token I’m sure Jaffer will appear in county cricket this summer, the only question being where. With respect to all concerned, he’s way too good to be stuck in the Huddersfield League.

Adam Voges, who has done so well with Nottinghamshire as a stopgap, is also technically available and is sure to interest more affluent counties. Various cricket supremos will be looking at the list of those not signed and making a few phone calls in the coming days and weeks.

Only a handful of Englishman were signed, primarily because any players selected would have missed a lot of games with international commitments, the reason that Chris Gayle ended up unwanted. This left Yorkshire and Derbyshire breathing loud sighs of relief, together with one or two other counties. Essex have lost Ryan ten Doeschate though, while Leicestershire will not see Andrew McDonald until June and are ‘unlikely to bring in a replacement.’

One of the few logical decisions on a day when money was spent like it was going out of fashion was in no one signing the long-retired Brian Lara for $400K. Why he thought of a return is beyond me, but thankfully the money people showed a little common sense on that one.

Still, there’s a few cricketers last night must have gone to bed with smiles on their faces. None bigger than Johan Botha of South Africa. Granted he’s their one-day skipper, an excellent fielder and a decent bowler. But $950K?

Good luck to the guy, but that’s crazy money.


Anonymous said...

The more you consider the IPL deals that have gone through, the more you start to feel that this has filtered out those who won't be donning the DCCC colours next term.

I, for one, would not be at all unhappy with Jaffer. I doubt he would let us down and would cover off a clear area in the side, where we are rather thin on experienced options. Chances are, we would get good effort, loyalty and, perhaps most importantly, continuity over the season.

I notice Tait and Hauritz are back in favour with the Aussie selectors, at least for the one day squad, so that might put paid to any thoughts of those two for potential county captures.


Anonymous said...

A few more to ponder - one or two maybe too expensive:

Tamim Iqbal Khan (Bangladesh)
Martin Guptill (NZ)
Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)
Thilan Samaraweera (SL)


Peakfan said...

Sadly only Guptill is a realistic option as the others have close to all summer commitments with their countries...
Tait isn't fit enough to play anything other than T20 and has 'retired' from four day cricket.