Monday, 16 April 2012

Overseas - over paid or over here?

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.

Image Detail 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?

Image Detail 


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?!


  1. I must admit I'm belatedly coming around to Steve James's view.

    Too many ordinary overseas players adding little to our game

  2. After many years people are now realising that there is no place in county cricket for players that are unable to commit to a full season with a county.
    The 'old' system tied the great players to counties and they became almost part of the county. Richards at Somerset, Clive Lloyd and Farokh Engineer Lancashire, Garry Sobers at Nottinghamshire are forever linked with their counties. Todays players drift in and out on short terms contracts and often play for 3 / 4 different counties throughout a career. This lack of loyalty does not bode well in the hearts of the County Cricket fans of the longer game. The players sign on for a quick few quid and then toddle off to the next deal.
    As was proven by Lancashire last season, teams can be successful without an overseas player, and indeed without a regular England player. Which raises the question as to why an overseas player is needed.
    I say ban them, they bring no long term benefit to the game.
    Get the home grown players coming through.. #digin

  3. Sadly, with the money in the world game, the days of overseas players showing any loyalty to a county, let alone playing for a full season, are gone. I look back fondly on Northants' overseas player when I was a young man; the mighty Curtly Ambrose. A top, top player, who was as committed as they come to the cause.

    County cricket used to be a pay day for these guys, and the counties could dictate terms. Those days are gone, perhaps never to return. Even the lukewarm reaction to this season's IPL (who's surprised by that?) isn't enough to cut off the cash. We have the ridiculous situation that the WI's most promising young bowler is playing IPL instead of a test series against Australia. If that sort of thing is happening, we can forget recruiting top drawer overseas players to the county circuit.

    Heck, we don't even get England players very often any more. I'd be interested to know how many deliveries Graeme Swann has bowled for Notts since becoming England's top spinner.

    It's time to come to terms with the fact that in today's game, the CC is no longer the finishing school for international players. It's A tours (Lions, whatever) that seem to be the path to the England side. Two divisions has helped to keep standards up, but if that's truly going to be successful in the long run, players will have to change county more often than they do even now, and that'll be a sad day for county cricket fans.

  4. Interesting comments there. You can't blame the players, but what could be done about it? As Fred Boycott says, Lancs won the title last year without an overseas. Also, interesting point about Swann Paul! I for one, would like to see Eoin Morgan playing 4 day cricket for Middx and trying to regain his England place, than playing in the IPL.

  5. The short term nature of many overseas contracts is an issue, but there must be a place for the overseas pro. In terms of what young players can learn from the overseas player on their team, plus playing against a better quality opponent.

    Central contracts mean the best English players rarely play county cricket and with the IPL taking a few more away for the start of the season you need overseas players to boost the quality in the county system, otherwise any new talent will just be up against the old worn down county pro.

    I'd argue for having 2 overseas players, but that they have to sign up to play 75% of the games (injury permitting) during the season. I don't even think they have to have played a certain number of test matches as removing overseas players will make county cricket very insular and will remove what overseas players can bring in terms of preparation, new innovations and culture to a team, and in my mind making county cricket poorer as a result.


    Wollongong is just outside Morley and within Yorkshire's famous Rhubarb Triangle. Phil Jaques' grandfather was one of the early pioneers of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb. If anybody deserves the accolade of non-overseas player it is Jaques. Phil Jaques speaks with a strong Yorkshire accent and learnt his cricket using three dead ferrets as wickets. He is as Yorkshire as Yorkshire Pudding. Don't listen to the knockers Jaques, get thee' head down and digin'.