Strikers trial Mark Higgs and Brad Young
Adelaide Strikers have delved deep into Australian cricket's spin bowling archives in their search for a left-arm spinner to replace the injured Jon Holland, trialling the long forgotten slow bowling of Brad Young and Mark Higgs.
Young last played for South Australia in 2003 and Higgs finished up with the Redbacks in 2005 before moving to play for the ACT in Canberra. Both had brief dalliances with the Australia team, Higgs picked for the 2000 ICC Trophy in Kenya and Young taking a hat-trick at the 1998 Commonwealth Games while also making six official ODI appearances. But one of the two now appears likely to emulate the comebacks of Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg in this summer's BBL, as the Strikers seek to fill one of two remaining holes in their squad.
While 39-year-old Young has been sighted at South Australia squad training this season, Higgs was flown down from Canberra to trial, and demonstrated a vast repertoire that includes both left-arm orthodox and over-the-wrist variations. He finished the trial match with five wickets.
"Both were good, Higgsy played in the game down here and he took some wickets and Brad's playing for the Grange cricket club and has been playing down the years," Strikers coach Darren Berry told ESPNcricinfo. "So they're both thereabouts, albeit being outside first-class cricket for a while. I'm prepared as always to have an open mind about where we go, we haven't made a decision on it yet, but those two are two that are under consideration.
"We've got two replacement players to find. We've taken Cameron Boyce on our list which we're excited about, we took him initially but we'll still look for one more as a replacement player."
Spin has been a major plank of Berry's T20 strategy since coming to South Australia, and his teams have prospered with the likes of Nathan Lyon, Adil Rashid and Aaron O'Brien. Last summer the Strikers tried the old and young combination of Bryce McGain and James Muirhead, who has this season signed with the Melbourne Renegades.
While the highly-skilled Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal will take a place in the Strikers' squad for at least one match, Boyce will be the team's go-to slow bowler for much of the competition, leaving Berry to consider Young or Higgs as another option. The Strikers had also made attempts to sign the legspinner Fawad Ahmed, who had recently been granted Australian residency, but he too has joined the Renegades.
"Given we've gone with Boyce as a young legspinner, James Muirhead was our project player last year, someone with real talent, but he's been snapped up by the Renegades," Berry said. "So we've picked Boyce as a younger spinner playing first-class cricket for Queensland who we think has got a game that can do the job for us. So he's the main one.
"But we're also looking at someone who can come in and do a role, I'm big in T20 on players coming in to do a role for certain games against certain opposition, so that's what I'm looking at."
The Sydney Sixers, meanwhile, have signed the Queensland swing bowler Luke Feldman as the final domestic player in their squad. The Sixers are also looking out for an overseas replacement for Umar Akmal after the Pakistani batsman could only commit to one game when he had initially been available for three.
"It was a surprise to hear from Stuart [Clark, Sixers general manager] as I thought they would have had their roster completed but I was chuffed at the call," Feldman said. "The opportunity to play with some of the big stars such as Brett Lee and David Warner was too good to pass up, as well as playing for the reigning champions. I'm looking forward to it."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here