Test Match Sofa
Essex aim promotion push with Harbhajan
By Paul Hiscock
Essex are hoping that the signing of Harbhajan Singh will prove the defining factor as they attempt to win promotion in the County Championship.
The Indian off-spinner will be available for the remainder of the season following the conclusion of the Friends Life t20 and will make his first appearance in an Essex sweater in the Division Two fixture against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham on July 11-14.
Chief executive David East told BBC Radio Essex the presence of Harbhajan can only help to improve the county’s chances of returning to Division One. “He’s a world-class bowler and we need to win probably five or six of our remaining eight Championship matches,” said East. “A bowler of his world-class ability will hopefully put us in that position.
“Obviously, towards the end of the season, we are looking for wickets to turn a bit more, if it ever stops raining. It’s also a chance for our younger bowlers to learn from one of the world’s greats.”
Harbhajan has played 98 Tests for India and 227 one-day internationals. His Test appearances have yielded 406 wickets at 32.22 with a career-best of 8 for 44 against Australia in Chennai in 2001, while he has also taken seven wickets in an innings for his country on six occasions.
A proven international performer too in one-day cricket, with 255 international victims to his credit, Harbhajan will also be available for the county’s seven remaining Clydesdale Bank 40 matches.
He has previously played county cricket for Surrey. In 2005, his four Championship matches brought him 20 wickets in four games and then, in 2007, he made six Championship appearances claiming 37 wickets.
Meanwhile former England and Essex off-spinner Peter Such, who has been working with the ECB on a part-time basis for three years, has now been appointed to a full-time role with responsibility for finding future England spin bowlers.
Such, who will assume the title of National Lead Spin Bowling Coach, said: “Graeme Swann has had fantastic success for England and Monty Panesar did incredibly well last winter, so at the top end of the game in England we’ve got a couple of real quality practitioners.
“In the world game, the successes of the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Harbhajan and one or two other notable spin bowlers has pushed spin bowling to prominence so that’s good. I’m looking forward to cracking on and producing more spin bowlers for England.”
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