Every year cricket clubs across England and Wales sign overseas players to help strengthen their squads, with these players usualy coming from cricket’s most recognised nations.
Associate cricketers are still vastly under-represented, but Emerging Cricket sat down with Frank Stennett, the Founder and Chairman of the newly-formed Newmarket Cricket Club, to gain the perspective of an English cricket club on the possibility of bringing in overseas players from outside cricket’s most recognisable countries.
Newmarket Cricket Club aims to ‘engage the community to play in and support the new local cricket club.’ To do this Stennett, and the other members of the club, are building the club from the bottom up. Whilst the team is yet to make their debut, Stennett articulates the process that the club would undertake when looking to sign a potential overseas player.
‘We will look to agents who have various lists of players on numerous budgets. We do have links to the Caribbean due to our player/coach and former professional player John Maynard who is very connected to the cricketing circles in the West Indies’.
Maynard, who previously represented the Leeward Islands, Nevis and English National Counties side Norfolk, is one of a long line of former players involved with coaching. But the notion of Maynard’s connection to West Indian cricket aiding the signing of overseas talent presents an exciting opportunity for Associate nations. As nations such as Namibia, Papua New Guinea, UAE and Scotland continue to impress on the world stage and develop talent, there is an increased likelihood of players from these countries going into coaching.
If there were an opportunity for a coach to join an English or Welsh club from one of cricket’s developing countries, these coaches would bring knowledge of untapped talent pools. In turn, this increased knowledge would widen a team’s search for overseas talent and increase players’ chances from emerging countries being hired.
The potential for coaches from cricket’s developing countries gaining prominence elsewhere can be seen in the story of former Scotland international Dougie Brown. Brown has been the Namibian national men’s team’s coach, the UAE men’s team coach, and Team Abu Dhabi’s coach during the T10 league.
Stennett says that when deciding who to hire as an overseas professional, all the boxes must be ticked.
‘You look for someone that can win you games of cricket first and foremost, somebody who adds that professionalism and quality, the bonus if they are a nice lad, respectful and can really make an impact both on the pitch and off the pitch, is very beneficial as well’.
‘Interestingly I keep an eye out on emerging nations players, which came from my time playing at Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club when they signed the Denmark captain Freddie Klokker. He was a very talented batsman and wicket-keeper who represented both Derbyshire CCC & Warwickshire CCC. Personally, I believe some hidden gems are within these emerging nations and hope they can get the funding necessary to keep developing.’
Explaining his views on why more players from emerging nations don’t get signed, Stennett explains ‘I don’t think there are necessarily barriers, I think it’s more the standard they are playing, the stats that they have, experience as well, these things usually decide the outcome.’
The founder of Newmarket Cricket Club’s statement illustrates the challenge that players from emerging nations are often faced with. Stennett supports cricket being played in developing countries. Still, when justifying an overseas signing, it comes as no surprise that he and the club require statistics to support the signing. It is often hard for Associate nation players to gain regular competitive action meaning that they cannot generate the level of statistical data desired.
However, through Associations like the Nigerian Cricket Federation, who are now introducing the use of statistical programmes such as Cricheros, players will now be able to be tracked as they progress through different leagues. Nonetheless, there is still a long way before players from Associate nations can generate the desired statistical backing.
When asked how signing players from developing nations could become a more attractive proposition, it makes perfect sense that Stennett says he believes that players would benefit from profiles and player pools.
‘A database where they have [their own] profiles’ (would be beneficial).
Alongside this, Stennett suggested that knowing where cricket is played and who is playing is essential.
‘(We want) as much publicity for them as possible so that clubs have a wider variety to choose from.’
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