Mark Wagh has been released from his contract with Warwickshire and will join Nottinghamshire on a three-year deal.
The 30-year-old has become disillusioned with life at Edgbaston and feels a change of scenery could revitalise his career. He had two years left on his contract.
There is no animosity between Wagh and the club. He did find himself on the periphery of the team last year, however, and is keen to play in both forms of the game. It is telling that at least four other First Division counties also tried to sign him.
There will be some sadness from supporters. Wagh, Birmingham-born and educated, has developed through the club’s youth systems and was once thought to be an England player in the making.
He compiled a glorious, unbeaten 315 against Middlesex in 2001 (the highest score by an England-qualified Warwickshire player and the equal third-highest score at Lord's) and, after a successful winter in the England Academy squad, was on the cusp of national selection at the start of 2002.
Alas, a serious knee injury sustained during an impromptu kick-around with a football ruled him out for three months and he has rarely looked quite the same player since.
There were still glimpses of his talent. A sublime hundred at Stratford in 2004 and a match-winning century against Hampshire in 2006 — the best innings I saw last season — showed what he could achieve, but this year’s Championship batting average of 29 was a poor return for one so gifted.
His inclusion in a 30-man preliminary squad for the ICC Trophy in 2004 has proved to be a high-water mark. His form subsequently fell away sharply and after an injury-ravaged 2005, he struggled to cement a place in the Warwickshire team last season.
Although Warwickshire expressed regret at Wagh's desire to leave, they did little to persuade him to stay. Indeed, there is some excitement at the prospect of the availability of extra revenue. The signing of a high-profile overseas player is increasingly likely.
For Wagh, the attractions of Trent Bridge are obvious. He should be able to command a place in the top three in both first-class and limited overs cricket.
Stephen Fleming is known to be a fan and he will feel more appreciated as part of a relatively small first-team squad.
Certainly, his decision has nothing to do with money. He was well remunerated at Warwickshire and, having been capped in 2000, would have been due for a benefit season in the not-too-distant future.
Wagh is the second significant talent to choose to leave Warwickshire since the end of the season. Moeen Ali, another talent who developed through the youth system, rejected the club in favour of Worcestershire.
Warwickshire have confirmed that the cost of junior membership will be #45 for the 2007 season.
Although that amounts to an increase of 125 per cent, the club stress that it will include seven coaching sessions before games at Edgbaston, a ‘free’ replica shirt, and entry to all Warwickshire games.
The club expect to recruit more than the 1,000 ‘Junior Bear’ members that signed up in 2006. To join, call 0870 062 1902.