Happy new year everyone, and I hope that the one ahead is full of everything that you wish for.
And we wish for, in the case of Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
Yesterday, after a quiet time, came news that the announcement of our two main overseas roles may not be too far away. In an interview on the club web site, Kim Barnett said that an overseas spinner for the second half of the summer and T20 Blast, as well as a seam bowler for the RLODC and the start of the championship matches should be announced 'soon'.
Both can bat, continued Barnett, so a little teaser there for us to ponder.
My dream ticket signing in the spinning role would be Afghan sensation Rashid Khan, who at 19 is probably the best young spinner I have seen. He has traveled the world in 2017 and played T20 cricket in India, Australia and the Caribbean, starring in all of them. A bowler who can turn it viciously both ways, I thought that top batsmen might have worked him out by now, but that is far from the case.
His googly is his most potent weapon, yet no one seems to pick it with confidence and the bowler's astonishing averages of just 14 to 15 runs per wicket seem set to continue for a while yet. He is going for less than six an over in the T20, which is quite extraordinary, while his control is remarkable.
Perhaps the different wickets in England might be the making of him, or they may find him wanting, but a brave and ambitious county would offer a young man of huge talent the opportunity to broaden his experience and skills. I would love that to be Derbyshire.
I have discounted Imran Tahir, as the last we heard he wanted only to play T20 and can otherwise only throw Jeevan Mendis back into the frame after his early summer stint last year. I suppose South African Keshav Maharaj could be an option, but after that I struggle for genuine contenders who could handle both required forms of the game and have batting ability.
The seaming all-rounder? I have earlier this winter noted the claims of Jason Holder, the West Indies skipper, but otherwise suspect that our strong South African links might bear fruit.
Seam bowlers who can bat, but are less likely to have IPL involvement might include Duanne Olivier and Andile Pheluhkwayo. Both, I think, have the requisite international appearances, something that may exclude Dane Paterson, who I liked the look of last year against England and Dewald Pretorius. Wayne Parnell's angle may offer another option, but he is a regular IPL pick, as is the excellent Chris Morris.
All conjecture, of course, until we are told otherwise.
Fun all the same though...