Leicestershire have signed two former Test cricketers, Claude Henderson and Ottis Gibson, as they strengthen their squad ahead of the 2004 county season.
Henderson played seven Tests as a spinner for South Africa, and Gibson two Tests as a fast-bowling allrounder for West Indies, although under European law, neither man counts as an overseas player.
Gibson, 35, who last played international cricket in January 1999, has been working as an ECB coach since 2001 and has applied for UK citizenship. But it is Henderson's circumstances that are of particular interest. He is eligible as a non-overseas player because South Africa has an associate agreement with the European Union, and has chosen not to make himself available for the national team.
"I've forfeited my right to play in South Africa," said Henderson, "so I am grateful for the opportunity to play first-class cricket in England." He is the first player to benefit directly from a recent judgment in the European court, where a Slovakian handball player, Maros Kolpak, won the right to play in Germany without being classified as a foreigner. And, given that Leicestershire's leading spinner, Jeremy Snape, managed only ten wickets last season, he is sure to play a major role in the coming season.
Gibson's case is more straightforward, although his main role will be off the field, as he is to double up as Leicestershire's bowling coach. "With their recent restructuring, Leicestershire is the perfect club for me," he said. "I sense a real desire for improvement, and I aim to help the club from the grass-roots to the professional game."