Essex hopes of an Amla return are dashed

Essex’s hopes of bringing Hashim Amla back to the Ford County Ground for the first couple of months of the 2012 season have been dashed. The 28-year-old South Africa Test opener has decided to stay at home to be with his wife who is expecting a child in February.

“It is disappointing for us but we fully understand why he won’t be able to join us,” said Essex head coach Paul Grayson. “With Owais Shah, Ryan ten Doeschate and possibly Ravi Bopara all likely to be playing in the IPL during April and May, we had hoped that Hashim would offer us cover at the top of the order for that period.””

Amla spent a month with the county in 2009 as a short-term replacement for Danish Kaneria and scored 410 first-class runs in three County Championship matches at an average of 103.50, including two centuries and a fifty in five innings. He also scored 111 against Sussex in one of his only two 40-over league matches.

Grayson is now looking elsewhere for a suitable player to fill the temporary void. “We have a number of players on the radar that we are talking to and, in addition to a top-quality batsman, we are still looking at bringing in an experienced bowler. There’s plenty of time yet but it is important we bring in players who will improve the squad.””

Essex recently announced the signing of former Derbyshire all-rounder Greg Smith and are looking to bring in a quality seam bowler to support David Masters, who carried the attack last year with 93 Championship wickets.

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