Southee delighted to get first chance of county cricket

Tim Southee is relishing the opportunity of showcasing his talents with Essex during this year’s Friends Life t20 competition.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do so this is a great chance for me to get some experience and I’m really looking forward to it,” said the New Zealand fast bowler, who has joined his fellow Kiwi Scott Styris as Essex’s overseas players for the Twenty20 Cup.

“In fact, I was lined up to play the first two months of the season with Essex in the County Championship but then I got an offer to play in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings.

“That was also a great opportunity for me to experience playing with world-class players and it was great playing in the IPL. Luckily for me, Essex still wanted me for the Twenty20’s and it’s another challenge.”

The 6ft 4in tall fast swing bowler, who is also a powerful late-order hitter, said Styris’s recommendation to join Essex was a big factor in his move to Chelmsford.

“Scotty had an influence in my decision to join club, he was here last year and he had nothing but good to say about it. So when the opportunity came to join Essex, it was a fairly straightforward decision.

“He said they were a great group of guys but I also spoke to a number of guys who have played county cricket over here, people like Hamish Marshall and James Franklin who have played at Gloucestershire, and they also had a lot of good things to say about the experience.”

Southee is one of a growing breed of players for whom there is little rest from the game, being in demand all over the globe for the various tournaments taking place. But, for now at least, he is delighted to be wanted.

“Nowadays, international cricketers play all year round and it’s terrific being able to play around the world and to see different countries, experience all the different team cultures and different parts of the world. I’m young, I don’t have to think about a family and it can be tough for the guys who are married and have young children.

Meanwhile, in a bid to bolster their spin options since the departure of leading leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, Essex have announced the signing of Tom Craddock on a two-month trial. The 20-year-old, also a leg-spinner, was born in Huddersfield and is a big turner of the ball who took 72 wickets last summer playing for his club side Holmfirth in the Drakes Premiership.

Having played for Northants 2nd XI, Leeds/Bradford MCCU, and the Unicorns, he was also invited to trials this year with Kent and Worcestershire.

Craddock played in both games when Essex took on the Unicorns this season in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition, taking 1 for 32 at Bury St Edmunds and then 0 for 32 in the return match at Chelmsford.

“We’ve been looking at him for a while, and we do need another spinner,” said Essex first team coach Paul Grayson. “I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen of him. I’ve watched him in a couple of University games and Unicorns matches and the feedback from the lads who played against him was favourable, and they were all very impressed with him.”

“We’ll be able to have a closer look at him and see how he gets on in the professional set-up. He’s not been involved in county cricket, there are not many English leg-spinners around and we had the chance to get him in.

“I know that there were a couple of other counties that had looked at him and were interested in taking him on but Tom has backed his judgement and feels he can bowl his way into our side so that’s good.

“We will be giving him a couple of months’ trial and, as far as we are concerned, it’s nothing ventured, nothing gained. It’s a good opportunity for him. We are looking forward to him joining us”

Craddock, who bowled against England’s Test batsmen in the nets at Loughborough, is currently in his second year at Leeds Metropolitan University where he is studying Sport, Leisure and Culture degree courses.

His trial period extends from June 8 until August 8, during which time Essex have fixtures in all three domestic competitions. However, they are waiting confirmation from the ECB that the player is eligible to play in their Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign having already turned out for Unicorns this year.

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