'So who do you reckon might interest us now, Peakfan?' said not one, but three emails I got over the weekend. In the interest of time constraints, I am replying here and apologise to the three people concerned for not doing so privately. There's not enough hours in the day right now, but do please keep your comments and emails coming and I always will reply in some form!
The short answer is, I don't know. If there is any interest in a West Indian, I guess that Darren Bravo may be worth an enquiry, given his stand off with the Board over there. Other than him, I can't think of anyone who would be of interest. It is a sad indicator of the current state of West Indian cricket, which has given so many greats to the county game, that there's not one player you would fancy to do a job over a long English summer. You might consider Pollard, Narine or Dwayne Bravo for T20, but they don't need our competition when they make fortunes elsewhere.
Zimbabwe? Er, no. There are better players in the Derbyshire Premier League than their national side and to be rolled over for 54 by Afghanistan today tells its own story. Dave Houghton must be deeply saddened by their plight and would probably still be the best batsman in the country if he went back there.
Which leaves South Africa. They are being canny now and not handing out Test caps all over the place and creating a group of players thus qualified for a Kolpak deal. After the quick exodus of a few weeks back, there aren't that many players who would qualify. David Miller would, as would Farhaan Behardien and JP Duminy. All three would, theoretically, be of interest to counties and are sufficiently on the periphery of the national side to consider greater security in England.
However, all three would cost, I would guess, a lot of money and can make that by merely becoming T20 guns for hire around the globe. When the cricket world has seen what Tymal Mills has made for his IPL stint, who could blame players in forsaking conventional cricket for its short form? I read yesterday that if he bowls every ball of his stint in every game of the IPL, it equates to £3.5K per ball. Let's hope he doesn't bowl too many bad ones, eh?
For me, as I have said a few times since he made an unbeaten 200 for our seconds last Autumn, we could still do much worse than Daryn Smit. In three years as professional at Ramsbottom he has returned Bradmanesque batting averages and taken many wickets. Indeed, a club that has had such luminaries as Brad Hodge, Michael Clarke and Clive Rice as club professional has hailed him as their greatest-ever, which is no mean accolade.
This winter in South Africa, in a season truncated by shoulder surgery, he scored over 500 runs at an average over fifty. These are serious statistics and a first-class average of 37 continues to climb steadily.
As I wrote a couple of weeks back, I was surprised Lancashire didn't make a move for him, especially since he has now retired from South African cricket, is moving to the UK and can play our domestic cricket as a local on an ancestral visa.
There's much to like in Smit and he would also offer a more than useful leg-spin option and a good, solid presence in the dressing room.
He would be my choice, but given I don't know the available budget nor the telephone numbers of agents for other availability.
We'll doubtless find out soon.
Thanks for the mails, gentlemen.