The Middle Stump's Liam Kenna looks at overseas players in the County Championship and debates whether they are good for the English game or if they are here to pick up some easy pay packets;
There seems to be a lot of debate at the minute regarding overseas players in the county championship. "Too many of them", "Not here for the duration of the season". "Keeping young players out of the side" are just a few arguments from people in and around county cricket.
Viv...an example of an overseas player that put a lot back into his county
Our favourite journalist, Steve James put it quite bluntly in his Sunday Telegraph column: "ban all overseas players from the county championship. They are not worth the effort or the money any more."
Stern words from the former Glamorgan opener.
James has a point and argues his case well, he has stated in the past that when he was playing, the overseas opening bowler staring him down at the start of his run up was none other than Allan Donald, and that man was rapid!
There is no one of Donalds calibre for the whole of the LVCC this season, there is in the 20/20 with the likes of Peter Siddle coming over and lining their pockets for a few weeks worth but the County Championship is the pinnacle right?
There is a lack of quality of the overseas these days but they are still better than a lot of the home grown players, even if we don't like to admit it. They also bring experience.
There is another view that the English counties are giving South Africans like Alviro Petersen, Jacques Rudolph and Vernon Philander valuable practice ahead of the 3 test series against England this summer. There is a fine line that the counties tread, and some insist that they give a lot to England and they have to look after number one.
The flip side to the coin is that overseas players add value, and put bums on seats, a definitive quality in the poorly attended County Championship.
When The Middle Stump spoke to Somerset chairman, Andy Nash, recently about Vernon Philander getting in practice ahead of the series against England recently, he responded with, " cricketers of the calibre of Vernon Philander would grace any cricket pitch and richly entertain all supporters lucky enough to see him play. Players of his calibre should be welcome anywhere and anytime. It's true he will learn about bowling in English conditions but also England batters will get to know more about him. Lastly, Team England will want to play and beat the best team SA can muster - not one that has been unfairly deprived of the best possible preparation."
So there are two sides to the argument.
Back to James and his condemnation of the overseas and what they bring. I'm sure the likes of Viv Richards, Jacques Kallis and Waqar Younis helped him no end during his career just like I'm sure that Marcus North will bring experience and some class to the nervous looking Glamorgan top 6, and Ramnaresh Sarwan to the Leicestershire top order.
I think there needs to be a review of the overseas situation, not the question of how many of them but WHO? Personally I would like there to be a stipulation of each overseas player having to have played a minimum amount of cricket for his country, say fifteen Test matches, and only then will we get the quality of players, that we had in previous years. If there aren't any decent overseas players available then the counties will have to blood the youngsters.
Now that would be a shame wouldn't it?!