Friday, 4 April 2014
North a class replacement for Chanderpaul
North is a time-served cricketer with plenty of experience, much of it, crucially, in England, where he has played for Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Lancashire, as well as us, where he enjoyed a highly successful stint in 2006.
He stuttered a little for Glamorgan last summer, but returned to form in Australia this winter, where he has averaged just under 70; almost 900 runs in sixteen innings. Last week he was voted Sheffield Shield player of the year, in a season where he has more often than not opened the batting and had to overcome the personal tragedy of the death of his brother in a motor accident. The only surprise is that the signing comes soon after the announcement of his retirement from Australian first-class cricket, though that retirement was qualified with the comment that he would make himself available for the English county game, as well as pursuing business interests in the UK.At a time when securing the services of an overseas player of quality is increasingly problematic, could this be the start of a lengthy association? We'll have to wait and see on that one.
North is, in short, a class act, one that Graeme Welch knows well, having skippered him in 2006. He proved that class in Australian colours, of course, scoring five centuries in a Test career of just 35 innings, truncated by the depth of batting talent in his country. A mid-thirties average is relatively modest, as perhaps befits the man, but a first-class average in the forties highlights someone who can play. Any way you want it, too, as indicated by a 73-ball century against Leicestershire in 2007, that won him the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the season's fastest.
He will prove an admirable replacement for Shivnarine Chanderpaul and will presumably play alongside him when both are available in the T20, where his ability to work the ball around, as well as find the boundary, will be of immense value. So too will be his off-spin, which is good enough to have taken six wickets in a Test match innings against Pakistan.
If North can maintain his form of this winter and replicate that of 2006, when he averaged 93 in six innings, there will be precious few complaints. Nor should there be. He has proved himself a prized and valuable player over the past fifteen years and we have done extremely well to get him.
There can be no doubts at the quality of this signing. Congratulations to all at the club who made it happen.