Steve Magoffin’s excellent debut for Sussex continued his extraordinary change of fortune since being dumped by Western Australia 12 months ago.
The Queenslander took nine wickets in his first outing as the club’s overseas player but the prospect of such an illustrious gig looked remote when the 32-year-old began the 2011-12 Sheffield Shield season without an employer.
His heartening comeback story began in October when he was plucked from grade cricket in his home state. A steady stream of wickets followed in half-a-dozen first-class outings, culminating in a beyond-the-call-of-duty display in the Bulls’ Shield final win over Tasmania at the Gabba.
Rangy seamer Magoffin was prised out of bed on the second morning of the match by former Australia batsman Martin Love – now Queensland’s physio – following back spasms that rendered him unable to dress himself.
A handful of painkillers later and he was on the field. “I had various tablets to get myself out there – I probably sounded like a Tictac pack running in,” he joked.
Magoffin returned match figures of 34-14-44-3 but it was with the bat that he made his biggest impression in a low-scoring affair. He struck 31 in the first innings, and then rescued the chase of 133 for victory with an unbeaten 26 after the hosts had slumped to 88 for seven.
Lancashire spent 77 years of toil to become outright winners of the County Championship and their title defence turned out to be a flop in more ways than one.
A problem with the temporary flagpoles at Liverpool Cricket Club meant they failed to raise the Championship pennant on the opening day, as is tradition, while on the field they were bundled out for 124 by Sussex before tea.
The issue addressed, the pennant – decorated with the badges of each of the 18 counties – was flown on the second morning but Magoffin’s seven-wicket display in the second innings limited its use.
Former Gloucestershire batsman Chris Taylor, already recruited by Somerset in a part-time capacity as fielding coach following an acrimonious split from Nevil Road, has added a batting scouting role to his post-playing portfolio.
The 34-year-old has been asked to keep an eye on potential England Lions batsmen, reporting back to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s lead batting coach Graham Thorpe.
However, the seamer-friendly start to the season has left him with little positive to pass on. He was at Aigburth to watch Luke Wells, Chris Nash and Joe Gatting but they all struggled in their limited opportunity to impress.
Yorkshire are expected to make Adam Lyth available for a loan move in the near future, with Australian Phil Jaques’ arrival further swelling the competition for batting places at Headingley.
Lyth, 24, the fastest man to 1,000 first-class runs two seasons ago – and first Yorkshire player to achieve the honour – suffered a drastic dip in productivity in 2011, and is now behind England Lions batsman Joe Root and club vice-captain Joe Sayers for an opening slot.
Meanwhile, Australian left-armer Mitchell Starc is understood to be on the club’s radar as they reconsider an overseas signing. Yorkshire’s original plan was to sign Jaques as their overseas player and recruit Friedel de Wet as a Kolpak signing but the South African got cold feet.
Jaques has subsequently changed status courtesy of his British passport, leaving the question of availability as the only stumbling block to another Aussie arriving – Australia play a five-match NatWest Series here in midsummer and their A team follow for two ‘Tests’ in August.
Two modern greats are expected in the Sky Sports commentary box later this summer with South African Shaun Pollock expected to join Australia’s Shane Warne for the three-Test series between England and the Proteas.
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