The overseas roles have gone to the leg spinners this week.
Adam Zampa has gone to Essex, while the outstanding Rashid Khan has gone to Sussex, both for the T20 this week, suggesting that leg spin is seen as the way forward for counties in that competition. I would have loved the latter at Derbyshire, but after his stint in the Big Bash and his big bucks deal in the IPL, he can name his own price. Not bad for a teenager...
With batsmen needing to generate the pace on the ball, quality spin would seem the way to go in T20 cricket. Fast bowlers can always devastate on their day, but if the radar is off the sheer pace only needs a nudge and it flies to all corners to the detriment of the average. Look at Tymal Mills, who had a shocker in the Big Bash because his length and line were wrong.
There is still no overseas news from Derbyshire, as we approach the middle of February. Having received two or three mails on that very subject this week, am I worried, or surprised?
No, not at all. There are, for me, several jigsaw pieces to fit together, before we could agree terms with an overseas player for the two halves of the championship season and for the T20. Whoever comes in may, or may not, be suitable for the short format, in which case we could be looking at three, possibly even four names.
The key, for me, was the auction for the IPL, which saw a lot of top players signed up, thereby making them unavailable for the early part of the county summer, but a few big names missing out. Several months ago I suggested that Jason Holder would be an ideal 'fit' for the county's early season needs, but since then, a well-known cricket website suggested that we were keen to sign Vernon Philander.
I would be surprised, given his recent injury record, if South Africa were to sign the requisite 'no objection' certificate to allow him to play here. Their full-strength attack is fantastic, but with question marks on the fitness of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, would they allow Philander to risk injury during a few weeks in England?
I suspect not, so if it was me I would be on the line to Holder's agent. He was surprisingly not picked up for the IPL, but would be a perfect fit for our needs. Canny and lively seamer? Check. Hard hitting batsman to make the most of closing overs? Check. Brilliant fielder? Check. There's much to like in Mr Holder.
Then there's the 'will he/won't he' over John Wright's return. That will largely dictate where we go in the hunt for T20 players. One option could be the return of Imran Tahir for the T20 only, the spinner having already confirmed he only wants to play in that. Or they could look for an alternative who could play both formats to the end of the summer, when there is an increasingly compelling case for Keshav Maharaj of South Africa, as Mark pointed out in the week.
He will be well known to our South African contingent and especially Daryn Smit, who will have kept to him many times for the Dolphins franchise. Maharaj is a fine slow left arm bowler who again can handle a bat pretty well, but who suffers because the national side seems to go heavily with a seam attack. I think a successful stint over here might be the making of his career.
If he was not available then my only other guess would be a return for Jeevan Mendis. He didn't let us down last summer, when he really played at the wrong time for spinners, and likely would do a good job again. He might score a few more runs too, on wickets with which he will be more familiar. His form has been so good this winter that he has earned a recall to the national side, for the T20 series against Bangladesh. He has 25 wickets in his last five matches, including ten in the last match.
Finally, there's the other T20 player. With the signing of Ravi Rampaul, which effectively covers the role of another experienced seamer that Matt Henry took last year, I think we should go for a top order batsman who can ideally bowl a few overs.
There's plenty of names out there who might do that and I'd not say no to someone like Glenn Maxwell, JP Duminy or Colin Munro, but we might happily forego the overs and take Martin Guptill back, I would think. Always assuming any of them needed county cricket as much as it could use them.
And as always, your comments are appreciated.