Veteran Twenty20 specialist Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, the top wicket-taker in this season’s Big Bash in Australia, has signed to play for Derbyshire in the Friends Life t20.
The capture gives Derbyshire the proven t20 campaigner they were looking for as they set out to improve on a lamentable record of only one quarter-final appearance in the first nine years of the competition.
Their determination to prove they mean business this time saw the county offer terms to Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga, Morne Morkel and Dirk Nannes, among others, before beating competition from Sussex and Hampshire for the signature of Pakistan bowler Rana, who will be 34 at the end of February.
Only last month, Rana led the way in Australia’s domestic t20 competition as he helped Hobart Hurricanes to the semi-finals with 15 wickets in eight matches at an economy rate of 8.01, even though he bowled most of his overs at the death.
Last season with Sussex, he took 16 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 6.82 as the Sharks reached the quarter-finals – and he can also be a very effective lower-order batsman.
“Rana is one of the best death bowlers in the world and I’m really pleased we have been able to sign him,” said Derbyshire head coach Karl Krikken.
“He is a great exponent of the slower ball and the in-swinging yorker and gives us a double threat. He can really smack the ball lower down the order and is one of those players who can take a game away from you with bat or ball.
“As well as that, Rana is a bubbly character who can pass on his skills to the younger lads in our squad. If things work out as we believe they will, we hope he will be with us for a few years to come.”
Rana will be available for all the group matches and, if needed, the knockout stages too. In addition, he will stand in as a temporary overseas replacement for Usman Khawaja in the other competitions, should the Australian batsman be included in his country’s A tour of England in late July to mid August.
Rana has played nine Tests, 74 one-day internationals and four t20 internationals for Pakistan, the last of them in 2010. He has played in England with Sussex from 2005-07 and again from 2010-11 and had spells with Yorkshire in the two seasons in between.
His career t20 bowling record shows 100 wickets in 79 matches at an economy rate of 7.00 and 758 runs at a strike rate of 136.33 with the bat.
Derbyshire set aside a sizable pot of money to attract a top t20 player to the County Ground this season. Chairman Chris Grant said the financial package they put to Gayle was actually better than the one he accepted from Somerset but he could not match other counties’ superior record in the 20-over game.
“The money was there so that we were able to compete but we were finding that players chose to go elsewhere because they felt they had got a better chance of getting to the Champions League, where they can earn the bigger money,” said Grant.
“There were eight counties in for Chris Gayle and, in the end, it came down to us or Somerset. I’m disappointed he didn’t choose us but pleased that we are in a position to compete for players of that calibre.
“If nothing else, we have made a few agents wake up and realise Derbyshire are not the poor men of cricket any more. We are not throwing money around willy-nilly but we are making sensible offers and if the players were making their decisions purely for financial reasons, we are up there competing with the best of them.”