There is something of an irony in that the side who have been accused (falsely) of signing more Kolpaks than any other county find themselves crossing the sporting divide and picking up a Bosman for the coming season.
This Bosman is no ordinary beast, however. Lungile Loots Bosman is not a man we would have signed as a replacement for Chris Rogers, as his first class record is modest, but as a destructive opening batsman of the highest order in the twenty over thrash, his record is second to none. Bosman averages over 50 in international matches in the shortest form, while his record in domestic matches is a highly respectable 35. If Dave Warner is the King Tonker of twenty over cricket, Bosman is certainly worthy of consideration as the Prince Regent.
He is not just a slogger, despite a strike rate of 176 per 100 balls faced. A record such as his would be outside the compass of someone who just gets lucky from time to time. He has a good technique but a wonderful eye, combined with timing that sends a ball from the middle of the bat to somewhere beyond the boundary ropes on a regular basis. The nine sixes he hit when destroying England earlier this winter ( 94 from 45 balls!) simply replicated those he hit when scoring a similarly paced domestic ton in South Africa the previous year.
In 37 domestic twenty over matches, Bosman has hit 66 sixes, with seventeen more in just six international appearances over the distance. He showed sufficient prowess at despatching the ball to distant parts with South Africa in India to suggest he would have have been an asset in the IPL. In the third of the fifty over matches, his 68 from 46 balls (7 fours, 4 sixes) gave his side a start of 113 in the first fifteen overs before he was dismissed and an initiative they never lost.
I am sure that Derbyshire fans will watch his performances in the imminent World Cup with a great deal of interest, though Bosman has enough feats to his name in the short format to make those further afield take note at this signing. He promises to be the biggest hitter we have had since the halcyon days of Chris Wilkins, another player who hit long and often to enliven our days at the match.
Over the last few months I have written a few times of the need to get either a big name batsman or bowler to help fill the new seats at the County Ground and have suggested Bosman as one worthy of consideration on several occasions. There is little doubt that batsmen will almost always pull crowds more than bowlers, unless you can pick up a Holding or Muralidaran (as he now spells his name.) While a few people may be saying "Who?" at this signing, anyone who really follows the game will be looking at this and realising that Derbyshire mean business. With decent luck from the weather, anyone prevaricating over their attendance at an evening game in the summer may well be swayed by the prospect of Bosman launching the ball to distant parts. If his eye is in, they may need higher netting in front of the play area at Queens Park before the game against Leicestershire in July...
At a time when all counties are finding it difficult to attract big name players, John Morris has pulled out a gem of a signing and should be warmly congratulated. While some may moan that our greater need was a top bowler, the counter argument is that there are few who are prepared to put their body through more work and potentially shorten their careers outside of the IPL. Similarly, many of the really top players - your Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis - don't need it, period. Others are only able to commit to shorter term contracts, like Cameron White, while some don't manage at all - Virender Sehwag, anyone?
The reality is that Derbyshire have signed an electrifying batsman who, if he comes off on anything like a regular basis, should give a different complexion to our twenty over game. There's not that much difference, at the end of the day, between a bowler who gets through his four overs for 20 and a batsman who hits fifty in 25 balls and enables you to score 190 instead of 160. Apart from the fact that the latter will sell a lot more tickets at the gate and swell the club coffers...
Bosman's signing probably means that we can allow Chris Rogers to do what Tendulkar does so well for the Mumbai Indians and simply bat through the innings. As a naturally quick scorer he will not need to go for the big aerial shots and can simply accumulate while Loots, ideally, puts our totals out of sight. With Madsen, Park and Smith to follow, as well as Goddard, Peterson and Wagg, we should have enough batting to do well. If the bowlers have learned lessons from last year, maybe we could see a decent T20 campaign for the first time. It should be well worth watching, that's for sure.
Loots Bosman at Derbyshire. What's that noise I hear? Ah, 'tis the sound of tinkling cash registers...