I have to admit that I didn't know he was available. When I heard about an announcement of a new signing today, my first thought was that it would be Muhammad Azharullah. Word is that he left Northamptonshire to be closer to his family in Halifax, so if one discounts Lancashire and Yorkshire from the list of potential suitors, we seemed a fair bet.
Instead, we have picked up a man with over 800 wickets across the formats in senior cricket, nearly 200 of them in the international game for the West Indies. At 33 (which he will be in two days time) his quicker days are behind him, but the Trinidadian still bowls a quick ball and has swapped pace for a greater nous that is usually the preserve of the experienced and talented.
I have referred to our need of a Charl Langeveldt kind of bowler and I think we have it in Rampaul. Over a long career that has covered a stint in the IPL, he has gone for under eight an over in T20 and mixes up line and length to good effect. He also takes wickets in List A and the longer form, so is an all-round asset to the team.
Speaking of all-round, Phil mentioned below my earlier piece that he carries more 'timber' than his younger days, but I don't see that as a major issue. While the modern trend is for quick bowlers to be athletes, traditionally the quick bowler has been a sturdy man with a big backside. There have been few better seamers in the county game over recent seasons than Rory Kleinveldt at Northamptonshire, a man who would never be confused with an athlete. But by crikey, he can bowl and if Rampaul can replicate his efforts, there will be few complaints.
It is a step closer to replicating the Derbyshire of Kim Barnett's heyday, when the skipper's rotation policy kept them all fit and firing. We are some way from that yet, but Rampaul will join Hardus Viljoen, Will Davis and Tony Palladino in a keen seam attack that will doubtless profit and thrive on early season tracks. If we could add a seam-bowling all rounder for the lower order overseas role at the start of the summer, Billy Godleman will have much more to work with in the field.
He has ruled out involvement in the Caribbean Premier League and so will be available all summer, news that can only be welcomed by supporters. I guess the only question mark, in a man of 33, is a three-year contract, but perhaps this security enabled the Derbyshire offer to be more enticing than those from elsewhere.
Kim Barnett will have done his homework and will know the sort of player he will be getting. Barnett's friendship with Alec Stewart will have done us no harm and he has, I think, got another player whose influence will extend beyond the field of play. With injuries par for the course in seam bowlers, the addition of another of quality will help us be more competitive next year and better withstand absences.
Ravi Rampaul is the victim of Surrey's attempt to squeeze a quart into a pint pot, with so many seam bowling options that a regular place was always going to be a challenge. I suspect a place will be easier to come by at Derbyshire, but don't expect a willing work horse to take it easy, in what will be a solid dressing room.
In conclusion? How can you dislike the addition of a man of considerable international experience to our ranks? I'm both pleased and surprised by the signing and suspect he could turn out a real asset.
Below, to whet your appetite, here he is in a splendid spell for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Not a bad set of victims there at all.
Welcome to Derbyshire, Ravi.
We wish you well