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24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
Leicestershire have completed the expected signing of Ireland wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien on a three-year contract. The move had been in the pipeline for some time, but O’Brien has been away with the MCC on a tour to Tanzania so that has delayed him putting pen to paper.
The 30 year-old was released by his former county Northamptonshire at the end of last season. They have used the money freed up by O’Brien’s departure to sign four young players. All-rounder Rob Keogh and batsman Christian Davis already have first-team experience and have signed new contracts as has England Under-19 wicket-keeper Ben Duckett. James Kettleborough has signed his maiden deal after impressing for the club’s second eleven last season. He has played Minor Counties cricket for Bedfordshire since 2009.
Of O’Brien’s departure, Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley said, “It’s sad to see Niall leave the club as he has been a big part of the changing room since he arrived from Kent. He has found himself out of the side at times last season through form, fitness and international commitments, meaning the club couldn’t offer him the role he wants. He’s now found some personal security in Leicestershire’s offer of a three-year deal and we wish him well for his future.”
O’Brien is Leicestershire’s latest close-season signing and by far the most experienced. He joins former Middlesex fast-bowler Robbie Williams and youngsters Ollie Freckingham, Tom Wells and Angus Robson.
“I’m very excited to be joining Leicestershire and teaming up with quality young players like Josh Cobb and Nathan Buck and assisting these young impressive cricketers reach their potential,” said O’Brien.
“I would like thank Northants and their supporters with whom I have a great relationship and would like to wish them the best for the upcoming season. All in all, I have plenty to offer and would like to contribute in a huge way at Grace Road.”
Derbyshire have announced contract extensions for five of their young players and handed another his maiden deal. They have also announced that 21 year-old batsman Hamza Siddique will not be offered a new contract.
All-rounders Peter Burgoyne and Alex Hughes have signed three-year contracts. Burgoyne, along with batsman Ben Slater, who has signed an “enhanced” summer contract alongside all-rounder Matt Higginbottom, is currently in Zimbabwe playing for Southern Rocks where both have put in impressive performances in a struggling team. Hughes will move onto his professional deal upon the completion of his studies at the beginning of October 2013.
Scotland seam-bowler Alasdair Evans has penned a one-year extension, while 19 year-old fast-bowler Johnny Marsden has earned a summer contract for the first time following an encouraging 2012 season playing for the club’s second eleven.
Sussex have signed leg-spinner Will Beer on a new two-year contract. Beer has been a fixture in the Sharks’ limited-overs side in recent years, and has put in several notable performances in front of the Sky Sports television cameras, most notably during 2009 T20 Finals Day.
“It is a fantastic honour for me to sign a new two-year contract with Sussex,” said Beer. “I have grown up playing my cricket with Sussex and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead and hopefully contributing towards winning trophies for this club”.
In sadder news, the club have released 22 year-old all-rounder Will Adkin.
Sussex’s Professional Cricket Manager Mark Robinson said, “Opportunities were limited last year for Will and seemed likely to be again next season. With that in mind we feel that it would be best for him to seek openings elsewhere. We would like to wish him lots of luck and thank him for all his hard work and dedication he has shown.”
County Cricket News In Brief:
Nottinghamshire have awarded England off-spinner Graeme Swann a benefit for the 2013 season. Swann joined the club from Northamptonshire in 2005.
Surrey have signed Gloucestershire’s fast-bowling coach Stuart Barnes. The 42 year-old played 11 first-class matches for the Gloucestershire in the early 1990s, but will now move to The Oval to replace Martin Bicknell, who has been given a new role as Surrey’s talent scout.
Glen Chapple has been appointed Lancashire club captain for a fifth season. Chris Rogers will also remain as Middlesex’s captain, with Neil Dexter taking over the reins in limited-overs cricket.
2012’s LV= County Championship winning teams, Warwickshire and Kent, who won the women’s event, have been officially presented with the respective trophies at Buckingham Palace today.
Worcestershire have awarded 22-year Joe Leach his maiden professional deal. The right-arm pace bowler impressed while on a summer contract at New Road last season.
© Cricket World 2012
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