A round-up of the county cricket news from the past few days, including news on a new contract for Graham Napier, and players released by Sussex and Northamptonshire.
Graham Napier has signed a two-year contract extension with Essex which will keep him at Chelmsford until the end of the 2015 season.
Napier, 33, enjoyed a stellar 2013 season, taking 51 first-class wickets and scoring 796 runs in what was, at times, a testing campaign for the club. The highlight was arguably when he took four wickets in four balls during a Yorkshire Bank 40 match against Surrey.
Napier said, “To sign a new contract with Essex for the next two years is excellent and feels like a huge reward after the best season I have ever had in my career at the club.”
Head coach, Paul Grayson added, “I am very happy that Graham has signed a new contract, especially after the sensational season he experienced last year. The 2013 season showed how important Graham is to the team when fully fit and I’m sure he will continue to be key member of the side for the next two years.”
Jack Taylor, the Gloucestershire off-spinner who spent much of the 2013 season unable to bowl because of an illegal action, is to have an operation on a shoulder injury which will delay his bowling comeback further.
Taylor was forced to play second XI cricket as a specialist batsman after being suspended in May and was making good progress according to Director of Cricket John Bracewell.
"Jack is having an operation on his left shoulder to have some ligaments tightened up,” Bracewell said. “He won't be out of action for long and will then return to bowling. After that we will get his action tested as quickly as we possibly can.
"I think he was ready to pass the test before he dislocated his shoulder while fielding in the warm-up for a second XI game. He will have to go up to Loughborough University to be examined by the 3D testing system the ECB employ in such cases and we are hopeful all will be well."
Gloucestershire have since signed left-arm spinner Tom Smith from Middlesex to bolster their spin stocks. Smith spent much of the season on-loan at Nevil Road as the county’s other spinner, Ed Young, was injured. They also have young tweakers Miles Hammond and Tom Shrewsbury to call on.
The club have also confirmed that several players will be spending the winter overseas. The Bristol Post reports that left-arm seamer David Payne will travel to the Darren Lehmann Academy in South Australia; Chris Dent and Benny Howell will play grade cricket in Australia; James Fuller will play in New Zealand’s T20 competition; with Dan Housego scheduled to play franchise cricket in Zimbabwe.
Northamptonshire have offered a new contract to veteran batsman David Sales. They also confirmed that fringe players Con de Lange, San Sweeney, Luke Evans and Christian Davis will not be offered new deals.
Chief Executive David Smith said, “Releasing players is always a tough decision. But players do get to an age when they need to be playing regular 1st XI cricket. We believe that Con, Sam, Christian and Luke are at this stage of their careers and had yet to claim regular first-team places.”
A statement on the club’s website also said that they are hoping to sign a left-arm spinner, seam bowler and overseas bowler during the winter, with an announcement expected shortly.
The spinner is likely to be Graeme White, who spent part of the season on-loan at Wantage Road and has found first-class opportunities at Trent Bridge limited. The overseas bowler won’t be Trent Copeland. The Australian had a successful spell with the county in 2013, but can’t return as he is no longer eligible for a work permit. He told BBC Northampton: “It's a frustrating thing. I'm qualified this year, why can't I be next year? Unfortunately the last time I played a Test was outside a two-year window, which makes me ineligible."
"Should I play a Test match in the next 12 months the situation changes. For my own career and the prospects of coming back to Northants that would be great. I'd love to help the boys establish themselves as a Division One club after doing the hard work to get there. If I can't come back, I will certainly help Rips (head coach David Ripley) get the best person for the job through my mates in Australia or guys I've played with for New South Wales."
Somerset fast-bowler Jamie Overton has received a reprimand for an offence committed during the final LV= County Championship game of the season against Nottinghamshire. He bowled an accidental beamer at David Hussey and then was removed from the bowling attack for excessive use of the short ball by umpires Nigel Llong and Michael Gough.
Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket Mick Newell has given his strongest indication yet that he will allow Alex Hales and Michael Lumb to take part in the 2014 IPL. Both were banned from playing in the 2013 edition by Newell.
"We want to be flexible. What I said was never set in stone," Newell told BBC Sport. "The amount of money a player who is number one in the world (Hales) is going to be offered to play in that tournament means it will be very difficult [for us] to continue to take a stance.”
Newell also confirmed that he will seek an overseas bowler for the 2014 season, while Chris Read confirmed that he will remain at Notts next season.
Sussex will not offer new deals to batsman Joe Gatting and seam-bowler Andrew Miller.
Professional Cricket Manager Mark Robinson said, “It is always a sad time when we release any player but both are still young and we hope a change of environment will help them fulfil their potential. Andy and Joe have been model professionals and we would like to thank them both for their hard work and commitment they have shown during their time here at the club. We wish them both all the best for the future.”
Miller only signed for the 2013 season after being released by Warwickshire, but has found his opportunities limited in a seam-attack that includes Chris Jordan, Chris Liddle, Steve Magoffin, Lewis Hatchett and James Anyon.
Gatting, meanwhile, has been unable to command a place in the four-day team and endured a disappointing season in the shorter forms of the game.
Warwickshire have awarded maiden professional contracts to Academy graduates Pete McKay, Tom Lewis and Jon Webb.
McKay, 19, made his debut for the Bears during the 2013 season as they suffered a wicket-keeping injury epidemic. Unfortunately, he too succumbed, but impressed enough to be offered a full-time deal.
Lewis, 22, is a batsmen who is yet to play first-class cricket, but has played for the MCC Young Cricketers, while 21 year-old Webb, also a batsman, has spent the past three years at Leeds/Bradford University.
The club have also offered a contract to former Essex seamer Maurice Chambers. Chambers spent the final part of the season on-loan at Edgbaston and showed enough promise to lead many to think that he could join the list of seam-bowlers whose careers have been resuscitated by bowling coach Graeme Welch.
British passport holder Phil Jaques is unlikely to play for Yorkshire next season after he left to take up a coaching role with club side Sutherland in Sydney. The 34 year-old scored 770 runs in the LV= County Championship in 2013 and originally joined the club as an overseas player in 2004 before enjoying stints at Northamptonshire and Worcestershire.
© Cricket World 2013