Ian Harvey is a much-travelled cricketer. He has plied his trade - mostly with distinction - in Australia, South Africa and England. It is therefore an irony that his career has been stalled, and potentially ended, just when he was hoping for another stint in a county system that appears to welcome with open arms most players, from all corners of the globe.
Harvey's citizenship application was turned down by the Home Office because of a drink-drive conviction. The ECB was unwilling to use its powers of discretion to allow him to play without the paperwork, and he is consequently in limbo. "This could effectively mean the premature end of my playing career," he said, "which is a bitter pill to swallow."
On the one hand this is a further example of how the ECB is becoming stricter on those who enter county cricket, following the case of Vaughn van Jaarsveld, the South African batsman, who has been refused a work permit and is currently stuck in Warwickshire's 2nd XI awaiting the next move. But Harvey is more deserving of a place in the county system than some players who flit in and out for a few weeks and a quick pay-cheque. Like Stuart Law at Essex and Lancashire, Harvey has given years of outstanding service to the county game with Gloucestershire, Yorkshire and, briefly until the current setback, Derbyshire.
If the game is serious about keeping a lid on players coming in through the back door, then there are many more relevant targets than Harvey. While the reduction to one overseas player next season would appear to put a lid on imports, in truth counties will look even more at the Kolpak or residential routes. As an example Omari Banks, the West Indies offspinner, is currently playing for Somerset 2nd XI and the club are weighing up the options of recruiting him for next season when they will lose the services of Cameron White. The likes of Banks will probably find their path much easier than Harvey's.
Whatever the final outcome to the issue, hopefully Harvey won't be lost to the English game. He has already been doing some coaching while not playing and he has a host of valuable skills to pass on. There haven't been many better one-day bowlers than him - particularly in his use of the slower ball - and his batting could be destructive. Three Twenty20 centuries show he wouldn't have been out of place at the World Championship in September.
|England could do a lot worse than tap into Harvey's knowledge to help the one-day side. Clean, powerful hitting, and death bowling, are not exactly the national side's forte in coloured clothes|
England could do a lot worse than tap into Harvey's knowledge to help the one-day side. Clean, powerful hitting, and death bowling, are not exactly the national side's forte in coloured clothes. Harvey would slot in nicely into an international backroom staff that already includes a Zimbabwean and a South African.
But Harvey isn't the only player who has been denied the chance to turn out for a county recently. In a slightly different scenario, Nayan Doshi's signing and subsequent non-availability for Warwickshire's Championship match against Sussex threw up a number of interesting issues.
When Doshi kicked up a fuss about a lack of first-team chances at The Oval, Surrey didn't stand in his way of walking out and wished him well. It wasn't long before other counties showed an interest, especially with the sun finally appearing and pitches taking turn. Warwickshire went on to sign him up as a replacement for Paul Harris, but when it came to turning out at Hove, Surrey hadn't given the required written permission. There isn't a football-style transfer system in cricket and normally any changes of county (apart from the successful loan system) take place when players are out of contract in the off-season.
It's probably no coincidence that Surrey, who are currently pulling away from relegation, are carefully watching how many points their nearest rivals accrue. They are currently 21 behind Warwickshire with a game in hand. Anything that helps Warwickshire doesn't help Surrey. What will be especially interesting is when the two sides meet in September, for a Championship match at Edgbaston.
One man who benefited from Doshi's late withdrawal - and it was very late, with the toss delayed by 15 minutes - was Adam Shantry. Expecting to carry the drinks, he instead blew Sussex's top order away in the first innings with 4 for 31. However, second-time around Warwickshire couldn't get past Richard Montgomerie and, given the success of Alex Loudon's offspin, were no doubt wishing for Doshi. He will, in time, get another game of county cricket. For Harvey the picture isn't so clear.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo