County news March 11, 2016

Dixon adds Australian flavour to Essex pace ranks

Matt Dixon had a successful outing for Perth Scxorchers in the BBL © Getty Images

Essex have completed their commitment to strengthening their pace bowling resources by signing the Western Australian fast bowler Matt Dixon on a two-year deal.

Dixon, 23, holds a British passport and will be available across all three formats, subject to ECB registration approval.

He is the second pace bowler with dual nationality to be snapped up by Essex this close season. They have also signed New Zealand A fast bowler Matthew Quinn on a three-year deal as Chris Silverwood, Essex's new head coach, has concentrated on stiffening their fast-bowling ranks.

Only one county will be promoted from Division Two this season, ahead of a reduced eight-team Division One in 2017, but Essex have been active enough in rejuvenating their squad to suggest that they can be one of the chief contenders.

Dixon first received county suitors in 2010 after a spell in the Durham leagues, and Essex have finally tempted him to England to reinvigorate a career that has recently developed quietly since appearances for Australia at Under-17 and Under-19 level.

But he did play in Perth Scorchers final group match in the Big Bash League, taking the wickets of Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen in a return of 3 for 32.

Silverwood said: "Matt is a talented young man who bowls at a really good pace. You need a number of seamers in a squad to be able to compete on all three fronts - as we plan to."

Since the accession of Ronnie Irani to the cricket chairmanship, Essex, regarded in the past decade as one-day specialists, have stressed that they intend to make a more concerted effort to returning to Division One of the Championship.

A right-arm fast bowler, Dixon will add extra depth to a bowling attack that has also seen the arrival of Quinn, the former Sussex spinner Ashar Zaidi and - for the NatWest T20 Blast only - the combination of New Zealander Adam Milne and Pakistan's Wahab Riaz.

Essex have had quite an overhaul this winter. The departure to Hampshire of Reece Topley, who has forced his way into England's limited-overs sides, was a blow, former skipper Mark Pettini has moved to Leicestershire and the gamble on Monty Panesar was finally accepted to be a failure as he was released.

Dixon made his List A debut for Western Australia against Victoria in October 2010, at 18, removing Brad Hodge with his fifth ball. He was the third youngest player to represent Western Australia at senior level. A first-class debut followed against New South Wales in March 2011.

From the outset, Western Australia were aware of rival interest not only from county cricket but also from Australian Rules football where he was a powerful colts footballer for Subiaco.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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