I didn’t mention yesterday as I was rather busy, but Lancashire signed Ashwell Prince as the overseas player for the upcoming season. I’m glad we finally nailed down a player and I think the choice was a very good one. Prince has a decent first class average and did very well the first two times he played for us. The most important thing for us was to sign a decent batsman though. Looking at last year’s Division 1 averages, of the players who played at least five matches the highest Lancastrian is Luke Procter at number 24. He had a good season, but still barely averaged over 40 from seven matches. Contrast this to the D1 bowling averages where the top three who bowled at least 150 overs are Simon Kerrigan, Kyle Hogg and Glen Chapple, all of whom averaged under 20. Our batting was definitely where we needed to improve, and I’m pretty confident that we have done that.
The only drawback is that Prince might still play for South Africa during the second half of the season. (At the very least I’d expect him to be in the squad.) I’m sure it’s easier to sign a player who wants to impress his county’s selectors ahead of an English tour, but it is still not optimal to sign someone who has a decent chance of missing four or five matches near the end of the season. Of course, if he is selected for South Africa on the back of a shedload of runs for us in the first half of the Championship I think it would probably be worth it. I’m not worried about the possibility of getting him too used to English conditions either. It probably won’t hurt him, but England’s bowlers are rather better than anything he’ll face even in the first Division. There was a lot of moaning about Phil Hughes playing for Middlesex in 2009 and all that happened was that England got a good look at how he played and preceded to use that against him rather effectively. I don’t think Prince, or the other South African that signed up to play county cricket (whose name escapes me and I’m too lazy to look up), will fare much better for South Africa.