I've seen a few critical comments around the web about the decision made by Martin van Jaarsveld to pull out of his contract with Leicestershire. Most of them centre around the premise that he "let them down".
I disagree. For me, van Jaarsveld has shown himself a man of some integrity. It would have been easy for him to turn up, take the money and run, but he knew in his heart that he was no longer up to it. He struggled, like a lot of batsmen, against the Tiflex ball last year for Kent, but those struggles have continued since his return to South Africa, where he has barely made a run.
The South African, who has been one of the best imports of the last ten years, was brought to Grace Road by the Foxes as a direct replacement for James Taylor, who always appeared likely to leave this winter once Leicestershire had accepted the inevitable. The prime form van Jaarsveld would have been a more than adequate replacement, but like all players he has had to bow to the inevitability of time. Maybe he is younger than some, but I remember Craig Spearman at Gloucestershire a season or two back, who after a bad blow on the head lost his footwork and was not the same player.
For me, Martin van Jaarsveld can leave the county game with his head held high and has at least given Leicestershire a lot of time in which to seek a replacement. I wonder whether this might open a door for Usman Afzaal to return to the county game? He is, after all, pretty much on the doorstep.
The sad news this week was the death of Basil D'Oliveira at the age of 80. He was one of the giants of the game in the period when I first started watching cricket and I saw him on a number of occasions. Having struggled when he first arrived in the country, D'Oliveira became a fine batsman who bowled gentle medium pace cutters that often broke partnerships for club and country. He will be sorely missed.
There is little on the county front at present, but as I have written previously, I don't see many more signings this winter outwith the overseas berths. I hope we sign another seamer from somewhere, because unless we have one ready to burst, like Tom Knight, from the Academy I feel we are light in this area. Groenewald, Palladino and Clare are a strong trio and with support from Messrs Turner and Footitt look pretty good. Yet two injuries puts us in trouble, with no obvious back up from within the side, as we had with Greg Smith, nor outside it as far as I can see.
By the same token, our spin resources look distinctly rosy, with plenty of part timers to back up David Wainwright and with Tom Knight and Peter Burgoyne coming through.
I'm sure such thoughts will occupy the minds of Karl Krikken and Chris Grant over the coming months.