Southee hopeful of joining Essex four-day ranks

Essex are hoping to have Tim Southee in their side when they return to County Championship cricket on Saturday June 26 with a visit from Division Two pace-setters Northamptonshire to Chelmsford.

First team coach Paul Grayson said: “Tim wants to play and it’s now just a matter of getting clearance from the New Zealand Cricket Board.”

Southee is already with Essex as one of their two overseas players – together with fellow Kiwi Scott Styris – for the Friends Life t20 competition, and the 22 year-old was initially signed to play for the county at the start of the season.

After Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle had done a U-turn on a deal that would have brought him to Essex as their overseas player for start of the season, Southee was lined up but then received a lucrative offer to go and play in the Indian Premier League.

Essex instead signed Lonwabo Tsotsobe as their overseas player but the initiative proved a flop from the word go. His arrival was delayed by a week because of a family bereavement and when he did arrive, his first experience of bowling in Championship crocket saw him send down 15 no balls in the Northamptonshire first innings at Wantage Road including his very first delivery.

He only played three Championship matches and took five wickets at 77.60 while five Clydesdale Bank 40 games saw him capture eight wickets at 30.25, including a best of 4 for 43 against Lancashire.

Tsotsobe was prematurely released from his contract after spending five weeks with the club, leaving Grayson to say: “We have given him a great opportunity to come over to England and play county cricket.

“He has to look at himself since being over here and realise that he hasn’t made the most of a great environment to play cricket with a good set of players. His work rate and attitude hasn’t been up to the standard I would expect of someone with his experience as an international cricketer.”

With their Championship programme now entering the second half of the season, Essex have recorded just one victory from eight matches, leaving their hopes of regaining their Division One place at the first time of asking looking slim.

Now Southee is set to make his Championship debut and the club and its supporters will be looking forward to seeing the Kiwi Test player in their four-day ranks.

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