Worcestershire’s search for an overseas player continues after Indian seamer Ashish Nehra experienced a ‘change of heart’.
Nehra, the 29-year-old left-arm seamer, agreed on Wednesday to join the club as their overseas player for the rest of the season. Having agreed contract terms, however, on Thursday he sent a text to Worcestershire’s director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, demanding more money and a delayed arrival.
Worcestershire, who have suffered with high maintenance overseas players in the past, swiftly came to the conclusion that Nehra was not the man for them.
“Everything was agreed,” the club’s chief executive, Mark Newton, said. “The deal had been cleared with the BCCI [the Indian cricket board] and we were expecting him to join us pretty much straight away.
“But then he came back to us asking for more money and saying the deal started too soon. As a result I can confirm that he will not be joining us.”
Nehra had appeared perfect. As a bowler of international class (he has played 17 Tests and 72 ODIs) but currently out of favour, he was deemed to be both good enough, and hungry enough, to make an impact at county level. He was recommended by Vikram Solanki, who has played domestic cricket in India.
Worcestershire are now considering other Indian seamers. Many of the best, however, are involved either in the Asia Cup or in a series of training camps. Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel are sure to top Worcestershire’s ‘wish list’ but persuading the BCCI to let them attend, and agreeing fees, is sure to prove problematic. Vinay Kumar and Sanjay Bangar are also possibilities.
“It has become extremely difficult to find a suitable overseas player,” Newton said. “The Indian Premier League has changed everything. Prices have gone through the roof.”
Such difficulties only serve to underline the attraction of Steve Magoffin. While he may not be the most exciting player in world cricket, the Australian proved a fine acquisition: an honest, reliable seamer who also proved himself a hard-working team man.
“He has been the perfect overseas player,” Newton said, “and we will certainly talk to him about further spells at the club. He really put in the work and was spot on in every way. He doesn’t go home until July 10, so I’ll talk to him before then.
“And, yes, I will be underlining the fact that the Australians are touring here next summer and it might not do him any hard to be around. He may be in their squad anyway.”
It is also believed that the club have made a 28-day approach for Durham fast bowler Graham Onions, though Newton declined to comment.
Onions is also the subject of an approach from Warwickshire, though Durham remain confident he will remain with them.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire hope to announce their ‘retained list’ by the end of July; with one exception. Stephen Moore, who is the subject of formal offers from Sussex, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Glamorgan, is the main doubt but Newton is optimistic that he will stay at New Road.
Ben Smith is likely to agree a new contract shortly while Graeme Hick will decide in his own time what his future holds - 63,000 first-team runs and 177 first-team centuries tend to allow such leeway.