Thanks tonight go to Jack, who mailed me about a piece on the Forum. Apparently a correspondent on there was talking to a Derbyshire member who told him that Derbyshire were in discussions with a player who averages over 50 in Tests.
To be honest, I have been told the same thing by a couple of people, but the correspondent's worthy bit of research on the players in that category suggest one thing to me.
If Chris Grant and Karl Krikken can lure anyone from that list to Derbyshire for 2013, they deserve every possible plaudit and accolade. For the sake of convenience, those names are:
JH Kallis (SA) 56.92
KC Sangakkara (SL) 55.70
SR Tendulkar (India) 54.32
MJ Clarke (Aus) 52.33
R Dravid (ICC/India) 52.31
RT Ponting (Aus) 51.85
Younis Khan (Pak) 51.69
MEK Hussey (Aus) 51.67
S Chanderpaul (WI) 51.67
HM Amla (SA) 50.69
TT Samaraweera 50.37
V Sehwag (ICC/India) 50.05
DPMD Jayawardene (SL) 50.03
The correspondent also suggests that Virat Kohli would be a good signing, which is undoubtedly correct, but I don't see Indians in the future county game. For one thing, their contracts in the IPL preclude them playing any similar competition around the globe, so that's the T20 gone, while the tournament itself takes a good chunk of the first two months of the season out. When one considers that most of the better players are at least dollar millionaires, one questions the motivation for them. Yes, they would improve their games in doing so and be better prepared for their next trip to these shores with the national side. But given a choice between working for six weeks at home for $500K or six months abroad for $150K, who among you would go for option B?
I'm not going to be drawn into conjecture over names, but apart from Dravid (retired) Ponting (possibly likewise) and Younis Khan (a somewhat peripheral figure) all of those players seem massively important to their countries. Any one of them would be a massive asset to our side, but would require a remarkable effort to secure.
There will, almost certainly, be other names. Joe Root now averages over fifty in Test matches after two innings (not that I'm suggesting he's a Derbyshire target...) and there will be others who have high averages but less appearances. Faf du Plessis averages 146 in Test matches right now after his heroics for South Africa in Australia, though I doubt we could lure him to Derbyshire, as he has been made national T20 skipper.
The reality for 2013 is that most counties will need to lower their horizons to decent, rather than top drawer players. Today we read that Northamptonshire are 'chasing' John Hastings of Australia and Rory Kleinveldt of South Africa for their overseas roles next summer. "All-rounder" Hastings has three fifties in his first-class career and a highest one-day score of 41. Kleinveldt, to be fair, is another who boasts a Test average of 60, but sadly with the ball. Neither offers statistics that suggest competition for their services will be fierce, nor that Northamptonshire will have to chase very hard.
Sadly it is in such players that most counties will now seek to find diamonds. Sussex did very well last summer with Steve Magoffin, one of the best value overseas imports of 2012. If Hastings or Kleinveldt can emulate him next summer, they will have few complaints at Northampton.
As for Derbyshire, it would be good to have a Christmas present for fans, but player negotiations take time and we must be patient. If there is any truth in the type of player we are after, we may have some way to go, as competition will undoubtedly be fierce and we may or may not be ultimately successful.
Just keep your fingers crossed...
Finally tonight, warm congratulations to Usman Khawaja on his selection for Australia in the Second Test against Sri Lanka. I am sure we all wish him well and would love to see him in their squad for next summer's Ashes.
Good luck Usman!