Warwickshire are close to signing India fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth as a replacement overseas player for New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel.
Sreesanth, who has been left out of India’s squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in September, has been given clearance by the Indian Board to play county cricket.
Warwickshire have also agreed personal terms with the player but they are now awaiting for him to obtain a visa, which is not the straightforward procedure it used to be following a tightening up of the application procedure. Warwickshire do not yet have an arrival date for Sreesanth but they need reinforcements soon.
Patel took only six wickets in three County Championship matches before he was forced to return home because of a torn knee ligament.
Warwickshire have decided to switch from an overseas spinner to a fast bowler because they have played only one Championship match away from home so far this season. They will spend most of the last two months of the campaign on the road and do not expect to play on many turning pitches.
They also want a fast bowler to beef up a seam attack that lacks experience and raw pace. Warwickshire had tried to sign Shane Bond, who had a brief spell at Edgbaston in 2002, before he was welcomed back into the New Zealand fold on a central contract.
Sreesanth will become Warwickshire’s 21st overseas player since Allan Donald retired in 2000 and there have been some spectacular failures in that time, none worse than Kenyan leg-spinner Collins Obuya who was packed off back home in mid-season after he spent most of his time languishing in the second team.
Sreesanth’s signing is a gamble and he will come to Edgbaston with a health warning as his on-field behaviour can be eccentric and confrontational.
But there were similar concerns when Warwickshire signed former Pakistan paceman Waqar Younis in 2003 and he proved to be one of their more inspired signings, helping them to retain their place in the First Division with match-winning displays against Middlesex and Essex.