Friday, 28 October 2016

Jeevan Mendis completes intriguing overseas pairing

There will be those for who the name of Jeevan Mendis comes as a surprise. Probably even more who could neither spell nor pronounce Balapuwaduge Manukulasuriya Amith Jeevan Mendis, to give him his full name. I think I will stick with Jeevan; after all, I reneged on typing Royal London One Day Cup on a regular basis...

Be assured, however, that he is a somewhat left-field pick who could just be a very special signing by Derbyshire.

For one thing he is unknown in this country, having only played a couple of matches for an emerging Sri Lankan XI here in 2004. Novelty value is no bad thing, especially in a leg spin bowler who has made his reputation in T20 competitions around the world, but has a first rate first-class record.

A batting average of 37, with sixteen centuries and 31 fifties is not bad by any standards, especially when accompanied by over 200 wickets at a mid-twenties average. His List A accomplishments are also impressive, with plenty of runs and wickets to suggest that we will have a handy cricketer for the fifty-over competition. A left-hand bat, he scores quickly and, apparently, bowls the leggie and googly with such a similar action that few play him with confidence when conditions are in his favour.

Watch the video below, which shows him first dismissing Kevin Pietersen in the Caribbean Premier League, then bamboozling Henry Davids with a googly he clearly didn't pick.

At 33 he is a time-served cricketer who will be keen to build a reputation in this country to match that he has elsewhere. There is much to like in a player who can score good runs anywhere between five and eight in the order, bowl match-winning leg spin and field brilliantly wherever required.

There is equally much to be impressed by in the work of Kim Barnett this winter. He has moved quickly and decisively to identify and then sign up two very good cricketers for the overseas roles. While Imran Tahir is the best known, Mendis will be a player well worth watching and could easily be a season-starting catalyst for a special summer.

The key man now is Neil Godrich, as the playing die are well and truly cast. While early season wickets are not, usually, ripe for turning, the Derbyshire groundsman, one of the best in the country, is tasked with producing wickets which, while not falling foul of the pitch inspectors in resembling a beach, will offer increasing turn as the game goes on and offer our overseas stars the very thing they need to succeed. His success will almost certainly see theirs.

To conclude - well done Derbyshire. We have landed two very good players for the overseas role. If we can get that strike bowler and another top player for T20, it will represent the best winter's work in recent memory.

Experienced wicket-keeper batsman, talented young all-rounder, two highly-skilled spinners and one of the highest-regarded T20 coaches in the world game.

Crikey, a lot has happened since the season ended.

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