THERE was a time in the dim and distant past when a county could sign a big name overseas player, he would rock up at the ground with his kit-bag slung over his shoulder late in April and blast hundreds or rip out batsmen all the way through to September.
Sadly, those days are long gone and the palava of trying to secure yourself a half-decent overseas player for anything more than about six weeks has had directors of cricket the length and breadth of the country tearing their hair out.
You have to feel sorry for Steve Rhodes. It seems as soon as Worcestershire have announced a deal with an overseas star, complications have arisen within a matter of days.
The New Road club pulled off something of a coup with a shrewd piece of business to recruit the hungry-to-impress jettisoned Aussie Test opener Phil Hughes for the entire English summer.
But that soon hit the rocks when he was called into a Cricket Australia training camp, which robbed Worcestershire of his services for the first six weeks of the campaign. Hughes’ fellow countryman Mike Klinger stepped in at short notice and did a decent job in testing circumstances.
But Hughes has already shown his new employers what they were missing with a run-laden start to his County career.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the saga of bringing in a second overseas player for the Friends Life t20 became little short of a soap opera.
Mercurial Pakistani off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was a revelation for Worcestershire last term and when they manged to secure his services once more this season it was again seen as a superb piece of business by the club.
However, not long after that deal was announced, talk began to surface that Saeed’s New Road arrival was doubtful amid rumours Pakistan were plotting a series in Sri Lanka.
The County’s worst fears were eventually realised and the deal to bring Saeed back was dead in the water when the Pakistan v Sri Lanka t20 and one-day schedule was finally rubber-stamped.
Again, though, New Road officials moved to snap up the in-form Sohail Tanvir to replace Saeed.
Unfortunately, the on-song seamer, who was set to join Worcestershire after his international 20-over commitments, yet still in time for the start of the FL t20, did so well for Pakistan in the t20s that he was called up to the one-day squad. This call-up means he will now miss the first five of Worcestershire’s FL t20 games, which has left Rhodes pretty fed-up with the whole farcical situation.
“I’ve got to be honest, it is frustrating because you put plans in place and they rarely go to plan with overseas players,” he admitted. “It is a real problem — there is a lot of cricket played and suddenly there are other tours involved, then you have visa issues too.
“We have to get on with it though and there is nothing we can do, so we will go with what we’ve got for these early games.
“Last week, we worked really hard on our prep and put some good practice sessions together.
“I was really pleased with them against Gloucestershire and Sohail is a class bowler as well as a good striker down the order — most teams will be stronger with him in their side.”