Monday, 11 June 2012

Monday musings

If you read as much about cricket as I do, the chances are that you're going to come across pieces from time to time that will be annoying.

Here's exhibit A on the ECB website. A decent enough article, save for the fact that Derbyshire's captain is Wayne "Marsden" and David Wainwright has changed from slow left arm to off spin, at least according to the author. It is sloppy journalism that mars an otherwise positive piece. Rightly or wrongly, it suggests that the author hasn't got a clue about his subject and has just done the research required, albeit not especially well.

Then there's the comment from West Indies legend Lance Gibbs today. Gibbs, himself a very fine off-spinner (not slow left armer...) says that more players from the Caribbean should play the county game, to better prepare themselves for future England tours and enable them to play a moving ball more confidently. In itself it is fair comment, but it somewhat neglects the fact that counties have to want them.

Take a look at the West Indies side in England and tell me how many you would consider for Derbyshire next summer, assuming that Martin Guptill is with New Zealand (as well as playing IPL) and that Usman Khawaja will be in Australia's tour party if he has a good second half of season here. I think it unlikely that Cricket Australia would want Khawaja playing in England from April to June, while Guptill may well need a break after what promises to be a hectic twelve-month period.

So who would you consider? Maybe Marlon Samuels, a doughty batsman and useful off-spinner, but if one assumes that Shivnarine Chanderpaul is as likely to play a full season of county cricket as I am, there is no one else. Players like Narine, Bravo, Smith, Pollard and Gayle will always be in demand for the T20, but I don't see another player that any right-minded county chairman would approach for an overseas role.

Sammy is a decent cricketer and Darren Bravo the same. Barath always promises more than he delivers and for me an overseas player has to be considerably better than you already have to be worth bringing over here. The days when counties picked up players like Keith Boyce and Viv Richards from seeing their potential in the Caribbean and bringing them over would appear to be long gone.

In some ways it is a shame, as a number of overseas stars have picked up deals in the past on the back of a successful tour. I just don't see it happening with many of this Caribbean crop, even if their international commitments were to allow it.

Next summer will be really difficult for counties seeking overseas stars, as the ICC Champions trophy looks set to overlap with our T20 in June. That will make it extremely difficult for counties to pull in overseas players for that competition, as well as for the season as a whole.

That being the case, I will be the first to suggest that next summer we could well see Rana Naved return for the T20 and also as a part-season overseas player. There are so many international tours and commitments during our summer that, aside from New Zealand, only one country looks to be clear - Zimbabwe.

If I was Karl Krikken or Chris Grant I would be making polite early enquiries into the availability of Brendan Taylor, by some distance the best batsman in that country and very much in a similar mould to Martin Guptill as a batsman. Earlier in his career he had a habit of getting out when playing his shots too early, but at 26 his average is climbing steadily and he makes good runs in all forms of the game.

Perhaps Guptill has already indicated he would come back for one more summer - I sincerely hope so - but for me Taylor might be a very good and affordable alternative, one who would see a county stint exactly the same as Guptill has, a finishing school. I would have thought him a player that Dave Houghton will know pretty well too, warts and all.

Yes, it is premature, but if Derbyshire finish the season strongly, we have every possibility of being in the top division next summer and will need good input from the best overseas players available.

At this stage, based on likely availability and accepting that things can change, that would see me perm any two from the three players named above.

Remember, you read it here first...

1 comment:

Dave Chapman said...

Ive been saying for years someone should take a gamble on him. Hard hitting batsmen good in all formats and could provide a helping hand to Madsen with his leadership experience (not that he needs it at the moment)