Bravo jets in for Essex
The days of overseas players in English domestic cricket forming lasting links with their county and become part of the club's fabric are long gone. There are still some who return year after year, but nowadays it's almost impossible to keep up with the comings and goings. Taking it to the extreme is Dwayne Bravo, who has jetted in to join Essex for Friends Provident t20 finals day and whose stay with the club could last one match.
It is a product of the Twenty20 game where clubs are desperate to attract big-name signings to help their push for success and it's no surprise that talk of freelance cricketers is becoming stronger. Although Bravo is still fully committed to international cricket it is another example of a player who is willing to hire out his services to any team that wants them around the world. He may need reminding about a few of his new team-mates names on Saturday.
"I'm really excited to be over here and it's nice to play for a team I've watched over the years," he told Cricinfo. "It's becoming quite normal for cricketers to play for a lot of teams all over the world so it won't be a problem slotting into a new dressing room. There are some new faces, but a lot of the guys I know and have played against before."
Essex searched for an allrounder after injuries to Graham Napier and Ryan ten Doeschate, two key figures in their Twenty20 success over the years, and Bravo will add to a strong batting line-up that includes Ravi Bopara, Mark Pettini and Alastair Cook - who has been released from England duty.
Despite the fleeting nature of his visit this time Bravo, who played for Kent in 2006, would like another opportunity in English cricket although knows the packed international calender will make it difficult for him to find a window.
"If the chance came up I'd love another go," he said. "But there's a lot of international cricket these days and it's hard to find the time. County cricket is something a lot of players say has improved their game so it would be good to have a longer spell."
The four teams at Finals Day this year - Essex are joined by Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Hampshire - know they are playing without the prize of a Champions League spot for the two who make the final. The global club tournament, which takes place in South Africa next month, won't include a county after the dates clashed with the end of the domestic season and the situation has led to tension around the shires.
Bravo, though, is already heading to the event as part of Mumbai Indians, another of the group of teams he now turns out for. He has also recently completed the Caribbean T20 tournament with Trinidad and Tobago, where he made 116 runs in three innings and took six wickets with an economy rate under six, so brings some form to Essex and hopes to maintain that heading into South Africa.
"I'm feeling good, it went well in the [Caribbean] T20 where I got some runs and wickets. The standard was good and I was satisfied with how it was run. For me the more cricket I play the better and Essex is another challenge for me followed by the Champions League."
Although Bravo is keen to play as much as possible the issue of workload is never far away as demands on the top players continues to climb, both on the international stage and with extra Twenty20 events such as the IPL and Champions League. Bravo, though, doesn't believe it has reached breaking point.
"It's all about managing your time and body properly," he said. "Yes, there is a lot of cricket but if you look after yourself you should be okay."
Dwayne Bravo will be playing for Essex Eagles on Friends Provident t20 Finals Day. For more information on Friends Provident's pensions, protection and investment products visit www.friendsprovident.com
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo