County news February 12, 2013

Warwickshire could lose Clarke

Warwickshire may have secured the services of William Porterfield but Rikki Clarke's future at the club remains uncertain.

Ireland captain Porterfield has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Edgbaston until at least the end of 2015, but Clarke is out of contract at the end of the 2013 season and has so far declined a new deal.

While 28-year-old Porterfield, who moved to Warwickshire ahead of the 2011 season, endured a modest season with the bat in the Championship and FLt20 - he averaged 24.10 strike rate of 95.18. Appointed captain of Ireland in 2008 and a veteran of 90 international matches, he is also an outstanding catcher at gully and seen as a highly positive, experienced and calm influence in the dressing room.

Warwickshire are also keen to retain the services of Clarke. A key member of the side in all three formats - he averaged 44.70 with the bat and 27.70 with the ball to help Warwickshire to the Championship title - his recent form has won him a return to the England set-up when he was added to the Lions squad for the Australia tour and he was offered a new deal shortly after the end of the season. Despite renewed talks over Christmas, however, he has so far declined to commit himself.

It is understood that Clarke was disappointed by the club's reluctance to release him for the Bangladesh Premier League over the last couple of years. It is also understood that he favoured Warwickshire's bowling coach Graeme Welch as successor to Ashley Giles as Warwickshire's director of cricket. Instead Dougie Brown was appointed to the job with Welch promoted to a role as his assistant.

Clarke is also coming to the age - he was 31 in September - where his next deal could be his last in the county game. Clarke developed through the Surrey system, but left the club for an ill-fated stay at Derbyshire in 2008 and then moved on to Warwickshire later in the same season. Fitter than ever before, he has produced the most consistent cricket of his career over the last few years and, if he does decide to move, is unlikely to have any shortage of suitors. He came close to joining Sussex at the end of 2011.

"Rikki is a crucial member of the squad and we would be delighted if he signed a contract extension," Brown, Warwickshire's new director of cricket, said. "While he is in Australia with the England Lions, he will be concentrating on that. But it is something we will be looking to get on to straight after he gets back."

Brown was keen to celebrate retaining the services of Porterfield. While Porterfield has yet to register a Championship century for the club, Brown felt the player would benefit from increased preparation time ahead of the season.

"Because of a reduced international calendar this is the first winter where we've seen a lot of William here at Edgbaston," Brown said. "His attitude and commitment towards pre-season training has made a great impact on other members of the squad. He's made great strides in the last few months and we had no hesitation in offering him a chance to commit himself to Warwickshire for the foreseeable future.

"His opening stand with Varun Chopra - 67 runs out of a partnership of 126 - in the CB40 semi-final at Old Trafford demonstrated his maturity and ability to perform on the biggest stage. His challenge is to do this consistently across all formats of the game and prove himself to be one of the leading batsmen in the domestic game."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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