22nd May: Sunrisers v Rajasthan Royals, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
Hampshire have signed Pakistan mystery spinner Saeed Ajmal as their overseas player for the final few weeks of the 2013 season. Ajmal, international commitments permitting, will stand-in for Australian Twenty20 captain George Bailey as the club’s main overseas player, with Bailey likely to be involved in Australia’s post-Ashes limited-overs series against England. He will also provide cover for Danny Briggs, who may also be involved in those series.
The first match in the Twenty20 series is on 29th August in Southampton, with a five-match One-Day International series to follow in September.
Hampshire's manager, Giles White said: "As things stand, it is possible that both George and Danny could be involved in the ODI series between England and Australia so the availability of Saeed for August and September is a great fit.
"He is one of the best bowlers in the world in all forms of the game and will add real quality to the squad at the business end of the season."
Ajmal is arguably the best spinner in the world at the moment and, if he does appear in Hampshire colours, will provide a huge boost to their LV= County Championship promotion prospects. However, his presence is far from certain as Pakistan’s international schedule is notoriously unpredictable, with matches often arranged at the last minute. This resulted in Ajmal having to withdraw from a stint with Worcestershire - whom he played for in 2011 - last season in order to tour Sri Lanka.
Nottinghamshire have taken the unprecedented step of barring their contracted players from appearing in the Indian Premier League. The three players who had expressed an interest in putting themselves forward for the auction on 3rd February - Samit Patel, Alex Hales and Michael Lumb - have been told “clearly” by Director of Cricket Mick Newell that they wouldn’t be permitted to take part.
“We were very clear that we expected all of our players to be available to us as we would be severely weakened if we were to lose them for that period of time at that stage of the season,” said Newell. "The players asked me to consider releasing them to enable them to take part in the IPL but they are key members of the squad and I explained that we wouldn't be able to allow them to take part."
Previously counties have felt almost duty-bound to release players for the IPL, which clashes with the start of the English season, with Durham’s Paul Collingwood and Essex’s Owais Shah among those to miss the start in 2012. The counties do receive a small percentage of the player’s tournament fee as compensation and have appeared reluctant to stand in their way in the past.
However, Nottinghamshire are one of most financially sound counties, as well as being seen as one of the best to play for, so clearly felt that they hold enough of the ‘aces’ to deny their players participation. Whether other counties follow suit remains to be seen, as does the reaction of the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA).
Nottinghamshire’s stance does not affect the participation of their two England-contracted players, Graeme Swann and Stuart Brad, whose participation will be decided by the players and the England management.
Nottinghamshire clearly have no qualms about allowing their players to participate in overseas Twenty20 leagues in the off-season, with Hales and wicket-keeper Riki Wessels both snapped up at yesterday’s auction for the second edition of the Bangladesh Premier League. They join 12 other county players who will play in the event, despite the PCA confessing it is “very nervous” about the prospect of tournament fees being paid on time.
Phil Mustard and Kabir Ali will play for Barisal Burners, Paul Stirling for Sylhet Royals, Alex Hales and Sean Ervine for Duronto Rajshahi, Luke Wright, Owais Shah, Josh Cobb, Chris Liddle and Darren Stevens for Dhaka Gladiators, Riki Wessels for Khulna Royal Bengal and Ryan ten Doeschate, Ravi Bopara and Jason Roy for Chittagong Kings.
Several other county players, including Lumb, went unsold at the auction, while some withdrew because of fears about the proposed payment schedule.
Derbyshire head coach Karl Krikken has admitted that his club are having difficulties in recruiting an overseas player for the 2013 season. The pair that shared the role in 2012, Usman Khawaja and Martin Guptill, appear unavailable, with Krikken saying, "Usman has just been picked in the Australia squad and we think he will be in the Ashes set-up.
"Martin could have been available for the second half of the season, but I think he is resting. He has played a lot of cricket lately so I think he will have a bit of a break. We spoke with him and I think he is looking for a rest. Whether that changes, we will see, but I think at the present time he is looking for that break.
"We are looking for an overseas batter. That is under way; we have no names to announce yet but are hoping to have something sorted pretty soon in the New Year, if not before."
Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes has left his post at Old Trafford for the final time today. Cumbes announced his intention to retire earlier this year and will be replaced by David Gidney.
"Fifty years after I first joined Lancashire as a young professional cricketer, I am retiring as chief executive," Cumbes told the county's website.
"If anyone had told me back in 1962 that my career would embrace professional cricket, professional football, commercial management, and finally the big "cheese", at the club I had just joined, I would have looked at them as though they had just arrived from another planet. Sometimes I have to tell myself it is true.
"In terms of achievements and satisfaction, I think sowing the seeds of redevelopment all those years ago in 2003, and then seeing it through with everyone else associated at the club has probably given me the most satisfaction. The future is now looking very bright, and after the heavy losses of the last few years, that is set to be turned around in 2013 and beyond."
© Cricket World 2012
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