A round-up of the county cricket news from the past week, including coverage of Maurice Chambers' move to Northamptonshire and Kent’s decision to release Charlie Shreck.
Horror For Shreck As Kent Call Time
Kent have made the slightly perplexing decision to release Charlie Shreck, their leading wicket-taker in the LV= County Championship over the past two seasons. 20 year-old seamer Ben Kemp has also been shown the door, but there is happier news for batsman Alex Blake who has been handed a one-year contract extension despite struggling to break into the Championship side.
It is on the decision to release Shreck that most attention will be focused. The Cornishman joined the club from Nottinghamshire for the start of the 2012 season after a brief loan spell at Canterbury during 2011. He took 58 first-class wickets at 26.63 in his first season to top the county’s wickets chart and then again topped them last year, albeit at the markedly higher average of 39.87 in what was a disappointing year for the club.
Now 35, Kent obviously feel that his best days are behind him and will move into 2014 with a new-look seam-attack. They have already made 2013 loan-signing Mitchell Claydon’s move from Durham a full-time one, while fast-bowler David Griffiths has signed from Hampshire and youngsters Matt Hunn and Charlie Hartley have penned maiden deals.
Elstone Delight At Derbyshire Contract But Slater Left In Limbo
Former Nottinghamshire batsman and one-time England super-sub Scott Elstone has signed a one-year incremental contract with Derbyshire.
The 23 year-old progressed through the Nottinghamshire Academy after first being spotted by Staffordshire, but Notts have a poor record in recent times of developing their younger players and he was released at the end of the 2012 season having been given only limited opportunities in limited-overs cricket.
In 2013, he played for amateur side, the Unicorns, and impressed, scoring 215 runs from seven matches. He was then given an extended trial by Derbyshire and played two one-day games for them towards the end of the season.
“Scott’s got a big chance now,” Derbyshire head coach Karl Krikken said. “He’s done well in the second XI this season and he looks a really good pro. He’s got a lot of talent and good luck to him; I hope this is the start of a long Derbyshire career.”
Elstone’s greatest claim to fame in his career thus far came when he was called on as 12th man by England when they were playing against India at a Test match at Trent Bridge in 2011. He caught Suresh Raina at deep fine-leg - a regulation chance - but then had to work somewhat harder to catch Harbhajan Singh in the same position.
Opening batsman Ben Slater isn’t so lucky as finances have meant that he is unlikely to be offered a new deal. He played on summer contract in 2013 and broke into the Championship side towards the end of the season, where he had moderate success. Slater could still be offered a new deal if coach Karl Krikken has his playing budget increased, reports the Derby Telegraph, but he has been given permission to look elsewhere.
Seam-bowler Alasdair Evans, meanwhile, won’t be offered a new deal. The 24 year-old sometime Scotland seamer took just two wickets in first-class cricket for the county last year and would have been frustrated by his limited opportunities.
All Change But No Change At Grace Road
Leicestershire have restructured their coaching set-up following their disastrous 2013 season during which they failed to win a single LV= County Championship game. The three men in charge will remain the same. Phil Whitticase has become Director of Cricket, while batting coach Ben Smith moves to the position of First XI Coach and Lloyd Tennant becomes Second XI Coach.
Chief Executive Mike Siddall explained the changes: “The club wanted to streamline its coaching operations with a Director of Cricket and two Senior Coaches and we believe that this structure will suit the club going forward.”
Whitticase added: “The club felt that with all the responsibilities I had to deal with there was a need to re-align and have a clear focus to the requirements of the team. This has been achieved by restructuring the roles of the coaches and I believe this will be in the best interest of the club.”
Chambers Spurns Bears To Become A Steelback
Former Essex fast-bowler Maurice Chambers has turned down the offer of a contract from Warwickshire to sign a two-year deal with newly-promoted Northamptonshire.
Chambers spent the latter part of the season on loan at Edgbaston, but would have found his opportunities limited if their bowlers were all fit. It is unlikely that he would have made it into a first-choice attack that includes Boyd Rankin, Chris Woakes, Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Chris Wright and Jeetan Patel at this stage in his career.
Chambers said, “I'm both excited and happy to join Northants Cricket. I've watched them progress the last few years into a strong and successful unit and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.
“I had a few options on where I could progress my career but having spoken to David Ripley and David Smith I felt this was the right place for me. I'd like to thank Essex for giving me a start and Warwickshire for recently giving me the opportunity to show that I have lots to offer. I hope I can play my part in maintaining Division One status and winning more silverware at Northants.”
Head Coach David Ripley added, “Maurice has finished the season very strongly on loan at Warwickshire, taking wickets in Division One. He has enjoyed some great seasons at Essex but for whatever reason last season didn’t work out for him. We believe he will respond well to a change of environment and continue to become a better bowler and get back into the England Lions mix.”
County Cricket News In Brief:
Worcestershire all-rounder Moeen Ali was named the Professional Cricketers’ Association Player of the Year at their annual dinner. Moeen became the first player since 2005 to tally 2,000 runs and 40 wickets across all formats. Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes was named Young Player of the Year, while David Willey, Peter Trego and Graham Onions were also honoured, with the Friends Life t20, Yorkshire Bank 40 and LV= County Championship awards respectively.
Gloucestershire wicket-keeper Gareth Roderick has signed a contract extension that will keep him a Nevil Road until the end of the 2016 season. Meanwhile, the club has confirmed that Roderick’s fellow gloveman Richard Coughtrie, seam-bowler Paul Muchall and left-arm spinner Ed Young have all been released.
Durham one-Day batsman Gordon Muchall has laid to rest doubts about his future at Chester-le-Street by signing a two-year contract extension. Off-spinning all-rounder Gareth Breese has penned a one-year deal.
Surrey have signed three young cricketers on contracts for the 2014 season. All-rounder Tom Jewell has penned a full contract, while spinner Freddie van den Bergh and all-rounder Jack Winslade have been awarded summer deals.
Jamie and Craig Overton have signed three-year contract extensions with Somerset, keeping them at Taunton until the end of the 2016 season.
Worcestershire’s Graeme Cessford has extended his contract with Worcestershire until the end of next season. Cessford joined the Pears for 2013 as part of the RAF’s Elite Athlete Programme.
© Cricket World 2013