Colly’s globetrotting, Knotty’s hidden talent: Richard Gibson

Paul Collingwood is no longer wanted by England but he is certainly in demand when it comes to Twenty20 cricket around the globe.

A beaten finalist with Perth Scorchers in Australia’s inaugural Big Bash League at the end of January, the 35-year-old has signed up for newly-formed South African franchise Rangers for his second overseas assignment of three this winter.

Rangers are South Africa’s equivalent of the Unicorns – a collection of up-and-coming amateurs and those looking to get back into professional cricket after being released elsewhere – strengthened by a maximum of four imported players, of which Collingwood will be one.

Rival Pro20 franchises are limited to two overseas players with Chris Gayle and Owais Shah, fourth top scorer in the BBL with Hobart Hurricanes, among those scheduled to be involved.

The tournament runs from mid-February to the end of March, and Collingwood is then expected to travel direct to India to fulfil the second half of his two-year deal with Rajasthan Royals – an itinerary that could result in him missing Durham’s first seven County Championship contests.

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The sight of fielding coach Richard Halsall and physio Ben Langley throwing doosras from 20 yards to prepare England’s batsmen for Saeed Ajmal’s box of tricks in Abu Dhabi was not a particularly new phenomenom, nor the first time improvised practise has proved futile.

Former England captain Ray Illingworth has revealed an unlikely clone of Australian mystery spinner John Gleeson, the home side’s leading wicket-taker in the 1970-71 Ashes, who bamboozled newcomers with his unusual grip and release of the ball.

“Alan Knott could bowl Gleeson stuff perfectly,” recalls Illingworth. “The only thing was he couldn’t do it off a full 22 yards, so he had to bowl it off the popping crease.

“He had talked to Johnny Gleeson a lot about it, how he did everything and could replicate it beautifully from a yard short. He had long, slim fingers did Knotty. He was like a bloody pianist, and he could get the ball in them and flick it out.

“Brian Luckhurst couldn’t read Gleeson, and was having a real struggle with him, so he asked Knotty to get into the indoor nets at Melbourne and bowl at him. It was no exaggeration to say that for half-an-hour Knotty tied him in complete knots, and Lucky came out even more demoralised.”

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Papua New Guinea, for whom former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones will feature at the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Dubai in March, hope to make their second appointment as head coach in the space of a few short months ahead of an official team dinner in late February.

The Barramundis have been forced to interview potential new coaches in Australia this week after Brad Hogg was unexpectedly recalled by the Aussies just a fortnight shy of his 41st birthday. Hogg only succeeded former Baggy Green team-mate Andy Bichel in the role in late 2011.

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Nice to see that Bangladesh have not forgotten from where they came a dozen years since taking their place as a Test nation.

The inaugural Bangladesh Premier League auction included a stipulation that each of the six franchises must sign at least one player from an associate country.

Although Niall O’Brien would arguably have been snapped up anyway, given his performances on the world stage with Ireland over the past few years – he won a deal with Khulna Royal Bengals worth $80,000 – the rule did benefit his new Northamptonshire team-mate and Scotland international Kyle Coetzer, who signed for Chittagong Kings, and Worcestershire’s Dutch batsman Alexei Kervezee, who will play for Dhaka Gladiators.

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West Indies all-rounder Omari Banks’ retirement from cricket, to concentrate on a musical career, coincides with the release of his appropriately-titled debut single Move On.

Banks – son of Bankie Banx, the godfather of reggae in the Eastern Caribbean, and Anguilla’s first international cricketer to boot – will include the track on an album out this spring. The 29-year-old’s greatest hit on the field was the unbeaten 47 he contributed to West Indies’ Test record chase of 418 to defeat Australia in 2003.

*Follow me on Twitter @richardgibson74

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