England were denied the chance to parade the Ashes urn as a team on British soil this winter due to the scheduling of the one-day series against Australia immediately upon its conclusion, but recognition for individuals remains on the horizon. Perhaps the most cherished might be Castleford Tigers’ invitation to Tim Bresnan to attend a game as their guest of honour. Bresnan is a devoted rugby league fan, and grew up with many of the club’s star players, perhaps not surprising given his upbringing in its traditional West Yorkshire heartland. There is a less obvious link to another devotee, Graeme Swann, whose love of the sport and support for Warrington stems from his maternal grandparents, while England team media manager James Avery also has a connection as his previous job prior to joining the England set-up was with NRL team Melbourne Storm.
The lack of depth in Australian cricket presently is arguably best reflected in the fact that Western Australia turned to veteran pace bowler Mick Lewis for the Big Bash. Lewis, 36, was plucked out of retirement three years after packing up top-level cricket with Victoria disillusioned with the game. His rollercoaster career did not begin until the latter half of his 20s and he was a shock international debutant in 2005-06 at the age of 31, the eldest Australian fresher since the 1980s. Unfortunately he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons: his nought for 113 in South Africa’s record-breaking chase at Wanderers in early 2006, the worst analysis in one-day international history, signalling the end of his Aussie career. Yet he re-discovered his love of the game by playing grade cricket in Melbourne over the past couple of winters and was recommended to WA by former Australian paceman Rodney Hogg. His story is all the more remarkable given that he was left with bleeding on the brain following an attack by yobs on August 29 last year.
Damien Wright must have set some kind of record by signing for Worcestershire for the 2011 season – the Australian will therefore be competing domestically in England for his sixth different UK employer. Having started his overseas player stints with Scotland a decade ago, he has also turned out for Northamptonshire, Glamorgan, Sussex and Somerset. Of other seasoned imports, Wright’s compatriot Marcus North previously led the way with five counties – Durham, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Hampshire – under his belt.
New Zealander Lou Vincent is another well-seasoned overseas pro seeking another engagement over here this summer. Limited-overs specialist Vincent is hoping to get his UK citizenship through in April, meaning he will qualify as a domestic player.