County news April 10, 2012

Essex defend Petersen signing


Paul Grayson, Essex's head coach, has defended the club's signing of South Africa opener Alviro Petersen for the first two months of the season.

Essex have received criticism in some quarters for allowing Petersen the chance to familiarise himself with conditions ahead of this summer's much-anticipated Test series against England. The series could well decide who is ranked as the No. 1 Test side.

But Grayson, who must cope at the start of the season without Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara (both of whom are on England duty) and Owais Shah (who is a member of the Rajasthan Royals squad in the IPL), has insisted that Essex's record of producing young players is excellent and that it was only fair the club, which is desperate to achieve Championship promotion in 2012, utilised the available overseas talent.

"We give a lot to English cricket," Grayson said. "At the moment we're just thinking about Essex. Alviro was here last year with Glamorgan and had a very successful season. We wanted a top-order batsman and we have been a little bit short of runs in that area over the last couple of years. So we're delighted to get him on board. I've no issue with the England situation. I know they're playing South Africa later in the summer."

Petersen was also bullish about his arrival. The 31-year-old, who could well open the innings with Cook in a few matches, suggested the presence of overseas players in the county game had improved the standard of county cricket and helped develop the England Test side.

"Joining Essex does help with preparations ahead of the Test series against England," Petersen said. "It makes sure I go into that series ready mentally, physically and technically.

"If it wasn't for overseas players in the past, I don't think England would be the team they are today. I think it's important that you get overseas players to come and play here as it helps England cricket in the long run. Playing with guys who have played international cricket is always going to help. It helps the county circuit. It has been that way for years. It helps the standard and the young guys, too."

Essex are not alone in signing one of the South Africa squad ahead of the series. Somerset have brought in the seamer Vernon Philander, while Surrey have signed Jacques Rudolph. Ashwell Prince has also joined Lancashire, though he may not feature in the Test series. All four of them have enjoyed previous spells in English domestic cricket.

"We're very proud," Grayson said of Essex's record of producing players. "Our academy structure is very good under John Childs and Barry Hyam, who do lots of good work, and we try to produce our own players. People say it's a down side when Cook and Bopara go off and play for England, but we want to produce England players. We're really happy with that. There's a nice balance in our squad between youth and experience."

James Foster (England), Graham Napier (uncapped but an England squad member in the past), Tymal Mills (England Lions) and Reece Topley (England U-19s) are among the other leading home-grown players in the Essex squad.

Grayson also explained the decision to sign veteran South African Charl Willoughby. With young fast bowlers Topley and Mills pressing for places, the 37-year-old seamer could seem surplus to requirements but Grayson felt the depth and experience in the bowling attack required strengthening.

"Charl is 37 and has a terrific record in first-class cricket," Grayson said. "We felt we needed another experienced bowler to support Graham Napier and David Masters. Reece Topley is away now with England U-19s for three-and-half-weeks and is away again in mid-summer for the U-19 World Cup. So that leaves us five quick bowlers for the summer. History will tell you at some stage they will pick up an injury, so it's vital we have a conveyor belt of five or six quick bowlers so we can rotate them and keep them fit and fresh.

"We're hoping to make a good start this year. Last year we started the Championship a little slowly, but all our preparations this season have been really good.

"Our number one priority this year is Championship cricket. It always has been since I've been coach. We've been a side that has been promoted and then been relegated and I really want us to become an established Division One side in that format. All our focus has been about four-day cricket."

Edited by Alan Gardner

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Philip on April 12, 2012, 4:33 GMT

    "If it wasn't for overseas players in the past [and current;y], I don't think England would be the team they are today..." I think Alviro is referring to far more than overseas players merely playing in the County Championship

  • Matthew on April 11, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    What is the incentive for counties to produce world class players if they never get to play for them?

  • Matthew on April 11, 2012, 10:31 GMT

    @Trickstar Tim Bresnan has only played one test and a handful of ODIs all winter, yet the ECB only release him to play for us for TWO games. And when he is in the squad but not picked for the first test against the windies guess who will lose out. Yorkshire, because our game against Hampshire starts the game before the test match. Yes the England matches bring in revenue for the counties BUT the ECB do not benefit the counties on the pitch because their best players are constantly being called up. And next time you watch yet another ODI, think to yourself, what purpose is this match serving? it's not a world cup, it's not a test match, just yet another way to make money.

  • paul on April 11, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    @yorkshirematt If you don't think the ECB care about the counties, you haven't got a clue how the whole system works. If it wasn't for team England the counties would be bankrupt, simple as that, nearly all revenue apart from the gate receipts is through money brought in because of the England team. Conversely because of this money the Counties provide the coaching, structure and framework in which players are developed and hopefully become first class cricketers. It's also very wrong to say the ECB deny the counties the England players, as can be seen in the article about who got released and for how long. England players play more cricket than anyone internationally and the work loads are carefully watched and evaluated, especially for players like KP, Broad & Swann who play all formats. You whole rant is misplaced and glossily misinformed tbh. Just because YOU think the one day games are meaningless is neither here no there, it creates revenue for all the clubs to exist.

  • Dummy4 on April 11, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    Petersons just a small cog in the SA batting lineup. While its still important for him to be successful, even if he fails the juggernauts of SA will take over. The likes of Smith, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Jaques Kallis will be the bedrocks to the lineup. So even if peterson is analysed by andy flower and co, it wont matter too much.

  • Dylan on April 10, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    All I can say is that Essex are shortsighted not signing Brendan Taylor from Zimbabwe. Top quality player whose only flaw is that he happens to play for a fledgling nation.

  • Matthew on April 10, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    I have no issue with this. The ECB deny the counties the services of their best players for much of the season with performance squads, lions matches and meaningless ODI and T20 series. They clearly don't have the interest of counties at heart. Essex are doing this for their benefit alone and rightly shouldn't give a flying ferrret what is best for the England side. They're not the first county to sign a south african this season with Jacques Rudolph at Surrey.

  • Robert on April 10, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    This does not have a deterimental impact on our side and, like Philander at Somerset, will give us time to work them out. What is more worrying is when counties fill their sides with "has beens" at the expense of home grown talent.

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    Why should they have to apologise? We used to see overseas players have an entire career here, and they only missed a year when they toured here with their countries. We're also the only Test nation that plays April-September. Everyone else plays over our winter.

  • Michael on April 10, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    I'm not sure where "the quarters" are that are referred to as having criticised Essex for having signed Petersen, but surely some people will remember the analogous situation three years ago when chairman of England selectors Geoff Miller had a whinge about Middlesex signing another opening batsman, Phil Hughes, ahead of the Ashes for much the same reason. But Hughes 'familiarising himself' with English conditions proved to be of little use since he failed in the Ashes and was dropped after two tests. While this was not exactly the case with Hughes (from memory while he scored lots of runs for Middlesex he had his confidence badly dented by Harmison in the tour matches), I think those responsible for such moaning are from an England perspective being a bit negative. Having a player like Petersen in England should be an opportunity to find out more about him, probe his weaknesses, and come up with a strategy for how to bowl to him. Miller and Flower should follow his matches closely.

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