Auckland eye Symonds swoop
Auckland are keen to get Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds on board for the upcoming State Twenty20 competition. With an eye on qualification for the lucrative Champions Twenty20 League, next year, Auckland believe that signing on Symonds for even one game will help boost crowd numbers as well.
Symonds will not be available for the entire competition because he is due to turn out for Queensland in the Twenty20 Big Bash in Australia. That competition, however, is only five rounds, furthering the possibility of him playing for Auckland towards the end of January.
"We are looking at some options about whether we could get a cameo from Andrew Symonds," Auckland chief executive Andrew Eade told the Herald on Sunday. "That's still on the table. One of the options we are looking at is if even we brought someone out for the whole season we would explain to them that, for one game maybe, we would play someone like Symonds.
"We want to make Twenty20 exciting and we want to get crowds along. It also opens up possibilities with businesses where previously we didn't have that much to offer. Now we can attract decent crowds and sponsors might want to be involved in that. I have no doubt if we had Symonds playing for us in one game we would get 1000 more people coming along."
Each of the six provinces is allowed one overseas import for the month-long competition which kicks off in January. While Northern Districts have managed to rope in Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, Wellington have secured the services of England batsman Owais Shah. Otago, the defending champions, are also expected to lure Dimitri Mascarenhas back for another season.
Auckland are also in talks with a current international to play the entire season but Eade did not divulge who their main target was. The pool of players is understood to be limited largely to Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh and some from England because of internationals being played at the same time.
The New Zealand representation in the side is also expected to be strong with the New Zealand team not scheduled to play at that time. Auckland will be able to call on the likes of Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills, Scott Styris, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Martin, Gareth Hopkins and Reece Young and will also have Zimbabwean Colin de Grandhomme, who is seeking New Zealand residency in the hope of playing for the national side.
This is not the first time that Symonds, 34, has been a star attraction. South African Twenty20 franchise, Highveld Lions, had declared their interest in signing Symonds had he opted to forego his international ambitions for a career as a freelance 20-over specialist.
The two-time World Cup winner though, has a chequered past behind him. In June, he was sent home from the World Twenty20, his third expulsion in the space of a year. His central contract was then withdrawn but he said he would chase marquee contracts around the world.
He also famously called the New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum "a lump of s..." in January, when McCullum was brought in by the New South Wales Blues to play in the KFC Twenty20 final against Victoria, despite McCullum's not having played at all for NSW previously.