Essex are close to signing an overseas bowler for the start of the forthcoming season. It is believed that Australian paceman Peter Siddle is the player in question although Essex first team coach Paul Grayson is keeping the name under wraps until the deal is signed, sealed and delivered.
“I prefer to wait until all the paperwork is done and everything is agreed between all parties before disclosing the name of the player in question,” he said. He did reveal, however, that a contract had been agreed with the player and that he is an opening bowler.
“Hopefully, we will be in a position to confirm our new recruit within the next couple of days,” added Grayson. “We need another bowler to help the likes of David Masters, Chris Wright, Graham Napier and Maurice Chambers with their workload because we’ve got eight County Championship matches in the first two months.
“Getting a good start in the Championship is essential because it means a lot to us to win promotion back to the first division if we can. Having this overseas bowler in place will help us to get some points on the board early on which would set us up nicely for the second half of the season.
“The guy we want has a good record and he will be an exciting signing for the club. It’s been difficult to get the right sort of player because a lot of players are at the IPL and the World Cup.”
Victoria-born Siddle was one of the few Australians to impress in their recent 3-1 Ashes series defeat. The 26-year-old right-arm fast bowler took a hat-trick in the First Test at Brisbane and went on to claim 14 wickets in the series. He has now taken 74 wickets in his 22 Tests at an average of 32.10.
With the ability to make the ball swing, Siddle is set to become the latest Aussie recruit to the Essex dressing room following the likes of Allan Border, Mark Waugh, Stuart Law and fellow pacemen Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel.
He is likely to play eight Championship matches plus a handful of Clydesdale Bank 40 and Friends Provident t20 matches, dependent on agreement from the Australian Cricket Board, and will come at some cost to the county who are hardly flush with funds.
But Grayson explained that they have been able to make the move for an international bowler thanks to the IPL. “With Ryan ten Doeschate and Owais Shah at the IPL, the compensation money has been released and the club agreed that we could use the money in our playing budget,” he said.
“If there is still some money available after the Twenty20 Cup group stages, then we’ll look at getting in an overseas player for the second half of the season whether it be a batsman, fast bowler or spinner. It all depends how the squad is playing and shaping up and whether we’ve got the money to get the player we want.”