County news April 3, 2012

Gloucestershire bring back Williamson

Kane Williamson, the New Zealand batsman, will return to Gloucestershire for the first half of the season. Williamson will arrive in Bristol for Gloucestershire's first home County Championship match on April 26 against Glamorgan.

Williamson played in New Zealand's Test series defeat to South Africa in March, scoring a century to save the third Test in Wellington, and will take an enforced break before returning to Nevil Road.

"He proved a very good fit in our dressing room last season," Gloucestershire director of cricket, John Bracewell, said. "Since then he has developed in all three formats of the game for New Zealand and that reflects great credit on him, as well as showing the benefit of his time with us."

Williamson, 21, scored 831 first-class runs at 36.13 for Gloucestershire last season before returning to New Zealand and making his highest first-class score of 284 not out for Northern Districts against Wellington. He was a regular in the New Zealand side in their tours to Zimbabwe and Australia and the home series against Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Gloucestershire also hope to gain the services of another New Zealand cricketer in a unique deal with New Zealand Cricket. Once Williamson departs for his country's tour of the West Indies in July another centrally-contracted player, not involved in the West Indies tour, will be sent to Gloucestershire.

A spokesman for New Zealand Cricket said: "We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Gloucestershire to develop our next generation of international cricketers. This partnership provides New Zealanders with the opportunity to play in and experience the pressures of a world class competition on a day to day basis."

Gloucestershire also signed allrounder Paul Muchall from Durham. Muchall was on trial in Bristol during the club's pre-season matches and, having impressed, has signed a two-year contract.

Muchall, the 25-year-old brother of Durham's Gordon Muchall, spent time both at MCC Young Cricketers and in Durham's 2nd XI with Will Gidman, who signed for Gloucestershire for the 2011 season.

"John Bracewell was very specific in what he wanted from me and obviously I have impressed in the right ways," Muchall said. "I like to hit the pitch hard and nip the ball around off the seam, with the occasional bouncer here and there when needed. I would hope to bat around six, seven or eight in the order, but it looks a strong batting line-up and I'll happily slot in where required."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    God to have Williamson back. He did OK last season and has done well for the Black Caps - his spin bowling is also a useful option to have. FatBoysCanBat - Franklin is no longer with Glos. I saw Glos play at Worcester in a warm-up last Saturday and there were good signs. Chris Dent and Will Gidman batted well and David Payne and spinners Ed Young and James Taylor bowled well. It will be a young side but they will give it their all.

  • Ryan on April 4, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    @amclean: County teams can only have one overseas player for first-class and list A games and these 16 slots are taken by players from all over the most cases players who don't represent their country so it is pretty hard to secure a place for the season. I know that Guptill will return to Derbyshire from April-June but no other NZers got contracted. I was hoping more of our players would have got a deal because we have seen how last years stint benefited Williamson.

  • Andrew on April 4, 2012, 8:39 GMT

    Very pleased to hear that Williamson is coming back ahead of the tours West Indies in July and India in August. It's a pity that more NZ players are not doing the same. No doubt McCullum & Co will find their way over for the Twenty20 in June (post IPL), though I'm not sure that will help our Test form.

  • Ryan on April 3, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    This is awesome to hear for Williamson. We have seen the benefit of his stint with Gloucestershire last season and he will return for the West Indies tour a better player. Can anyone tell me if James Franklin has been signed by Gloucestershire again? He has played for them the last 3-4 years.

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