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April 18, 2012
Yorkshire are close to a deal with Mitchell Starc, Australia's up-and-coming fast bowler, as their coach, Jason Gillespie acts to strengthen the club's pace bowling resources after an indifferent start to their Division Two campaign.
It took Gillespie just one Championship match to decide that Yorkshire needed an overseas fast bowler if they are to regain their Division One status at the first time of asking. Although Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, said there was "nothing definite", discussions are well advanced over Starc's arrival at Headingley.
Starc, a left-arm quick capped three times at Test level, is with the Australia squad in the West Indies but he has not been selected for the first two Tests. He was also omitted from Australia's party for the preceding one-day series and so could be bursting for some cricket when the final Test ends in Dominica on April 27.
Gillespie needs no reminding of Headingley's reputation for favouring swing bowlers and Starc, 22, is eager to hone his skills in swinging the ball after benefiting early in the New Year from some guidance from the former Pakistan allrounder, Wasim Akram. Whether Yorkshire, deep in debt, can afford him, however, remains to be seen.
Moxon said: "We are looking at a few options and I'm hoping that something might happen in the next few days. At the moment, however, we've got nothing definite. The problem with trying to sign an overseas player is that the process, invariably, is never straightforward.
"It was in our thoughts anyway to look for an overseas player, but I think that has been probably stepped up a bit after the first game. We weren't at our best with the ball against Kent. The lads are working hard and trying very hard, but we have struggled to maintain that pressure with the ball."
Starc's Australian representatives would not confirm negotiations, but the 5 Oceans Management website is clear that he is eager for an opportunity after an inactive Caribbean tour, stating: "Unfortunately Mitchell has not been required in a game yet, but he is keeping very fit, constantly training hard in the nets and learning new skills around the Australian team. Hopefully an opportunity presents itself soon, as Mitchell is sure to take it with both hands."
It was a ninth-wicket stand of 153 between Kent's Matt Coles, who made a maiden first-class hundred, and Mark Davies that convinced Yorkshire that for all their financial woes they would have to act. Another problematic game against Leeds/Bradford MCCU, which at one stage Yorkshire looked like losing, added to the county's fears.
Iain Wardlaw, who struggled against Kent, is likely to be replaced by Steve Patterson as Yorkshire reshuffle their pace attack against Essex at Headingley on Thursday.
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