The sound of southern African accents is sure to dominate one corner of the Essex dressing room when the new season starts in early April.
Joining Johannesburg-born newcomer Greg Smith will be Cape Province born duo Charl Willoughby and short term signing Alviro Petersen while Ryan ten Doeschate, another with origins from that part of the world, will also lend his South African tones to the conversation when he returns from his stint in the IPL.
“Charl and Alviro are excellent signings and I’m sure there will be plenty of friendly banter in the dressing room,” said Smith, who made the move to Chelmsford after eight seasons with Derbyshire and admits he is anxious to help his new county win promotion bcck to Division One of the County Champioship as soon as possible.
“I really think we can win something this year and that’s one of the reasons I came here – to win trophies,” he added. “Playing in a winning side is something that I’ve always wanted and, when you look at the squad we have at Essex, you think that this club shouldn’t be in the second division. The squad as a whole is very strong, certainly the strongest that I’ve been involved with, and we have so much depth throughout which is very good for Essex cricket.
“I don’t want to undermine the importance of Twenty20 cricket but I think the ambition of any cricketer would be to play in Championship first division cricket in order to test yourself against the best players week after week.
“With eight Championship matches in the first two months of the season it will be important for us to get off to a good start With Alviro in our side for that period plus the availability of Owais (Shah), who we thought would be committed to the IPL and the possibility of having Ravi (Bopara) around for a few games too. That would be a real bonus. All those three are experienced players so hopefully we can get our season off to the start we want and be able to build from that.
“We have to make sure that, whatever else happens, we make a successful push for promotion this year and achieve our aim but we have to earn our right to play in the first division.”
The 28 year-old Smith, who bats right-handed and usually bowls right arm fast medium, also offers the team the option of bowling useful off-breaks and is set to become an integral member of the side in all three competitions.
“I have set myself a target for this season and the chief aim is to score more runs in the four-day game and play my part in a winning side,” he added. “That’s something that I really want but I’m also looking for a successful season in the one-day game and would love to help the team to lift a trophy or two.”