Essex hopes of having Owais Shah in their side for the entire domestic season have been dashed with the news that the former England and Middlesex batsman had received a belated offer to participate in the Indian Premier League.
The 33-year-old had previously played for Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils in the competition before representing the now defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala in 2011.
No bids were tabled for his services at this year’s auction but the decision of New Zealander Ross Taylor to switch to Delhi Daredevils persuaded Rajasthan Royals to make a move for Shah who earlier this winter enjoyed an impressive stint in Australia’s inaugural Big Bash competition.
“Obviously we were delighted when we thought that we would have Owais in our ranks for the start of the season,” said Essex batting coach Matt Walker. “It would have been a bonus for us but it’s good news for Owais that he’s now got a place in the IPL.
“To be honest, throughout the winter we thought that he would miss the start of our season and be playing in the IPL and that’s why we were looking for a quality player to cover for his absence and possibly Ravi (Bopara) too.
“The signing of Alviro Petersen addressed that situation and he’s a great signing for us and a fantastic player. He’s proved that on the highest stage by scoring Test runs for South Africa recently and he’ll definitely add a lot to our side at the top of the order in the first few weeks of the season.”
The former Kent batsman, who has taken over batting coaching duties at Chelmsford from Graham Gooch, who is now working full-time with England, also believes that the absence of Shah offers a wonderful opportunity for one of the county’s younger batsmen to stake a claim for a regular place in the line-up.
“Yes it would have been nice to have had Owais around but it now gives one of the other guys quite a bit of time to make that position their own,” added Walker. “There’s a lot of serious competition for places in our line-up.”
Shah was part of the Hobart Hurricanes side that reached the semi-finals of the Big Bash in Australia this winter when he averaged 70.50 from eight games with a total of 282 runs at a strike rate of 149.20. He will be competing in the IPL for a fifth time.