Derbyshire have conceded defeat in their aim to bring in a “landmark” signing for the 2012 season.
After sounding out the likes of Ricky Ponting and Paul Collingwood, among others, the realities of finding the right man for the job has meant the plan proved to be too ambitious.
Signing a player of proven top international pedigree was one of the more eye-catching aspects of chairman Chris Grant’s nine-point strategic plan for the future of the county club, announced at the beginning of June.
In the same way as Dean Jones and Eddie Barlow brought success to Derbyshire in the past, it was hoped recruiting in a high-class experienced player to work alongside captain Luke Sutton would help an essentially young squad through the next stage of its development.
But, in the modern era of a busy international calendar and big money on offer in the Indian Premier League, Grant has not managed to make his idea work.
“We’ve not been able to carry out the plans as we wanted to but it has not been for want of trying,” he said.
“Maybe I was guilty of being a little naïve but I honestly thought it was an idea worth pursuing and, if we had been able to get our man, I would have done all I could to make sure the money would have been there to pull it off.
“The money we could pay would still have been a lot less than players can make for playing six weeks in the IPL, but I still thought we could find the kind of player we had in mind.
“There were many phone calls to agents all over the world and it hasn’t worked out for us this time but maybe it is something we can come back to if the right man becomes available in the future.”
The re-signing of New Zealand opener Martin Guptill this week was the signal that head coach Karl Krikken had moved away from the idea of a landmark capture and had opted for the overseas player formula Derbyshire employed in the 2011 season.
Guptill will play for the county for the first two months of the season and a second batsman – possibly Usman Khawaja – will be signed for the remainder of the campaign.
With the money that will still be left in the budget, Derbyshire also hope to bring in a big name Twenty20 specialist fast bowler for their Friends Life t20 campaign, where two overseas recruits are allowed.
“That was the decision Krik came to as the best way to use the money we have available and I support that,” added Grant.
“I certainly wasn’t going to insist we went all out for a landmark signing just because the chairman had promised to try to find one.”