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Posts Tagged ‘worcestershire’

Good news for any West Midlands-based fans of under-exposed world class Bangladeshi all-rounders (of which, no doubt, there are many) – Worcestershire have signed Shakib Al Hasan for 2010. “I am thrilled and inspired to be joining the team once graced by Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Vikram Solanki”, he didn’t quite say.

Does this mean that Bangladeshi cricket is finally showing up on county administrators’ radar? Or just that Simon Jones’ massive medical bills mean that the Royals can’t afford anyone with a higher profile?

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Simon Jones’ First Class cricket career is looking like it might be all but over. The latest news that he will miss the remainder of the English season due to yet another problem with his knee, combined with the fact that his Worcestershire contract expires this year, means he may struggle to find a team willing to take a chance on his fitness. He hasn’t played at all since last August, and the injury problems that have plagued him since he was forced to miss the last Test of the 2005 Ashes series have never really let up.

If this does prove to be the end of Jones’ time as a professional cricketer, then let’s remember him at his best: taking Aussie wickets in that remarkable summer.

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  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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Simon Jones (remember him? He used to be really good) took 5 wickets for 30 runs in just shy of 13 overs for Worcestershire against Leicestershire today, in the battle of the counties Americans find difficult to pronounce.

This will probably get some people excited, especially as he has so far managed to stay fit for a whole five minutes. Not least amongst the excited people will be Jones himself, as he wants the chance to play for England again.

I think that is likely to be a forlorn hope, although I would welcome any Welsh additions to the England side, being of that persuasion myself.

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