One of the most gratifying things in sport is to see a player choose to move outside their comfort zone with the aims of improving their game, of learning new skills, of expanding their mind. Sportsmen who decide to ply their trades away from their usual environment should be lauded. This is particularly the case in modern cricket, where players can have a long winter break between the end of the county calendar and the next pre-season training and little to do. Even if they have a winter tour, there are still periods too long to be described as a rest.
Of course, the movement of players around the world may solely be based on the desire to make some more cash, but though we are happy to describe the likes of Keiron Pollard as profiteering, T20-specialising leeches, we firmly consider that any of the brave England boys who opt to boldly go into the wild frontiers in search of a game are genuine, praiseworthy individuals in pursuit of cricket’s fundamental essence. Have bat, will travel.
Admittedly, Sydney, Cape Town and Perth are not exotic strange lands, but they present different challenges to Southampton, Chelmsford and Chester-le-Street. As such, we have decided to follow (not literally) eight English players who will feature for foreign teams this winter.
Let’s start with the most interesting: Liam Dawson. The 21 year old all-rounder headed to Zimbabwe to represent Mountaineers as their overseas player. Mountaineers are one of five franchises and play in Mutare, in the east of the country. In his first match, he took 7/51 and scored 110*. This may or may not be an indication of the quality of Zimbabwean domestic cricket. However it is disappointing to read that Dawson has not played again and decided to return home, saying that the living conditions and lifestyle were hard. One wonders quite what he expected beforehand. He has indicated that he would like to play in Australia later in the year, so watch this space.
The other players are:
Dimitri Mascarenhas (Otago)
Owais Shah (Cape Cobras, Hobart Hurricanes)
Luke Wright (Melbourne Stars)
Paul Collingwood (Perth Scorchers)
Michael Lumb (Sydney Sixers)
Steven Finn (Otago)
Monty Panesar (Randwick Petersham in Sydney grade cricket)
Some of these are signed for T20 tournaments and it is probable that the majority of the players are unlikely to feature for England again, which makes us all the more proud of Steven Finn going to play four first-class matches for Otago in New Zealand’s Plunket Shield. He is expected to debut tomorrow. We will let you know how he gets on.