County news January 27, 2017

Lancashire defend system after double Kolpak deal

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Shivnarine Chanderpaul is still going strong at 42 © WICB

Lancashire have become the latest county to raid South African cricket by signing Dane Vilas, the wicketkeeper-batsman, in a double Kolpak swoop which has also seen them shore up their batting strength by signing the veteran West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Vilas flew 600 miles to Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth as a late substitute in a Test against England at the start of 2016. Roughly a year later, at 31, he will fly around 5,000 miles to Manchester on a two-year Kolpak deal which realistically will bring his brief South Africa career to an end.

He is the seventh South African player to take that option as expectations grow that Brexit might bring an end to the arrangement which exists under EU employment law.

Kyle Abbott (Hampshire), Hardus Viljoen (Derbyshire), Simon Harmer (Essex), Rilee Rossouw (Hampshire) and David Wiese and Stiaan van Zyl (Sussex) have also signed Kolpak deals, although opening batsmen Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook have stayed loyal to South Africa by signing overseas player deals with Somerset and Durham respectively.

Not many 42-year-olds would win a county cricket deal, even in a winter when Kolpak signings have again flooded into the game, but Chanderpaul retains an appetite for batting and has a pragmatic, safety-conscious style which might have been designed to offset the passage of time.

Any burst of regional pride which met Glen Chapple's progress through the ranks to become Lancashire's head coach earlier this month will be tempered, for a while at least, by the decision to stock up with overseas reinforcements in an attempt to safeguard their future in Division One of the County Championship.

Lancashire only became sure of safety on the final day of the season when results went their way after they had suffered a heavy defeat against Warwickshire.*

Reeling from the enforced retirement of Tom Smith, they will plead that they have also had to contend with the loss in recent seasons of two further South African batsmen, Alviro Petersen and Ashwell Prince. Luis Reece has also been allowed to join Derbyshire.

Their batting is likely to be further compromised by the loss of one of their homegrown products, Haseeb Hameed, to England for the second half of the summer. Hameed is the first England opening batsman produced by Lancashire since Michael Atherton but it is possible that, after only 23 first-class matches, any further benefits accrued at county level will be strictly limited.

Ashley Giles, Lancashire's former director of cricket, supervised a successful progression from the Old Trafford academy before returning to Warwickshire to take up a similar role. Four players made their first-class debut in 2016. Liam Livingstone and Rob Jones both went on to hit maiden first-class centuries, with Livingstone earning England Lions selection. The legspinner Matthew Parkinson took a five-for on debut against Warwickshire and England Under-19 fast bowler Saqib Mahmood made his first-class debut against Hampshire as well as breaking into the NatWest Blast side.

Lancashire were at pains to point out that 19 players in the squad have come through the system. The Old Trafford academy, recently audited by the ECB, was ranked second, only to Durham, for producing young homegrown players who went on to make appearances for the club in the Championship in 2016.

"This evidences the club's ongoing commitment to developing young players to go on and play for England," a Lancashire media release stated.

Chanderpaul renews acquaintances with Lancashire after a spell at the county in 2010. Only Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Jacques Kallis have played more Tests than Chanderpaul, who joins Lancashire on a one-year contract.

Chapple said: "He knows what it takes to be successful and there is no doubt that he will have a positive effect on our squad. The talented squad at Lancashire is very young and Shivnarine will bring a healthy level of experience to help guide them.

"Whilst Shivnarine will undoubtedly have an important role to play on the field, his role off the field will be of huge importance to our young players. He's one of the most experienced international cricketers in the history of the game and it will be a fantastic opportunity for our players to learn from him, in all aspects of the game."

Vilas can be expected to make more of an impact in the limited-overs formats, with Chanderpaul unlikely to figure often in T20.

Chapple said: "Signing a player of Dane's undoubted calibre and experience is a great boost. His aggressive batting style will see him as an important part of our T20 and one-day sides in 2017, as well as in four-day cricket."

*January 27, 1600GMT: This story was corrected to amend Lancashire's result

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Francis on January 31, 2017, 16:05 GMT

    These are good signings - a lot of experience has been lost lately and Lancs needed to act quickly. Chanderpaul, McLaren and Faulkner all have county experience. The young talent is exciting and the fans need to get behind them.

  • darren on January 31, 2017, 13:45 GMT

    Young English talent Rob Jones scored a century last season for Lancs, wonder whether he will get much cricket this season with Shiv being drafted in!

  • jaswant on January 30, 2017, 12:39 GMT

    It's great to see Shiv Chanderpaul,one of the greats of all time be drafted in by Lancashire. I am surely sure that the WI made a huge mistake by dropping him from their test squad. He is one of the few I have known that gave so much to cricket.At 42 he is as fit and agile as any youngster playing international cricket.The young players will benefit tremendously from this stalwart. Good luck to Lancashire and Shiv.

  • Tim on January 30, 2017, 1:07 GMT

    @ontheboundary what you fail to realise is there are 20 English cricketers who will never get to play first class cricket despite deserving to because their places are being taken by random foreign players who already get to play fc cricket in their home country

  • Tim on January 30, 2017, 1:04 GMT

    ICC should include a rule that limits the amount of international players for a team to qualify as a first class team. Stop county cricket being officially first class till they change their rules and become a proper First Class domestic competition

  • David on January 29, 2017, 20:23 GMT

    Agree with Darren Cook, On The Boundary and Cricket Fan 30019954. Money talks and rules so English counties go shopping for overseas talent. This once again highights the damage to South Africa but also the lazy and complacent English counties, a national trait - is there anyone in England who can play or coach cricket, football or rugby ? - A strange policy to keep importing sportsmen at the same time as foreign workers are preparing to pack their bags ? The counties are resembling Premiership football clubs - awful. How about the counties nurturing their own stars of the future ? No, they would rather sign a quite - ordinary South African player - nothing new, this has been going on for a few years now ( Kemp, Hall, Klusener, Boje, van der Wath, van Jaarsveld, Dippenaar, Ackerman, Prince, Petersen, Kruis, Madsen, Rudolph, McLaren, Langeveldt, etc and now Abbott, Rossouw, Viljoen, van Zyl, Vilas, Wiese plus all the England players who were born, raised and schooled in S.A.

  • Gareth on January 28, 2017, 18:01 GMT

    Vilas has made 93 runs in 8 SS innings this season. He better hope he finds some form if he wants that deal to pan out... His FC record is heavily padded by his time playing 2nd team cricket...

  •   Darren Cook on January 28, 2017, 17:02 GMT

    A terrible backward decision by Lancs, English cricket is being failed by Counties!

  • nischal on January 28, 2017, 14:18 GMT

    Folks people fail to realise that besides abbott and rilee (more him than abbott) the players that have left wont ever make an SA team again; except as temporary subs. The danger will be if our young players start to leave (this is where we need to channel our preventative efforts). Once you represent the Proteas regularly the income is more than any you will earn as a renegade and you will have the adoration from the public as well. So we need to ensure that we keep our young talent and make it appealing for them to challenge for a berth in the national side. Why would anyone want to leave beautiful SA for dull stodgy England Even more perplexing why would anyone want to represent England instead of powerful SA #proteafire

  • michae7471641 on January 28, 2017, 10:38 GMT

    It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and criticise Lancashire, rather the two division county championship system that engenders such fear and short-term planning. Yes, we all want to see young English players being given a proper chance, but unfortunately the best of them invariably and understandably jump ship just as soon as a team gets relegated, or is stuck in the lower division and perceived as second rate. The idea that the ECB could successfully avoid legal challenges by penalising clubs for hiring Kolpak players is naive in the extreme and that horse has already bolted anyway. There are currently financial incentives in place intended to encourage teams to field English-qualified players of a certain age, but frankly they are insufficient, don't work too well and everyone around the county game knows it. The county championship is competitive, but in essence mediocre and it's not too difficult to see why when you see how its member clubs behave in practice.

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