Ash­win may be back in pic­ture for Worces­ter­shire if the jig­saw fits

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - By Richard Mar­shall

WORCES­TER­SHIRE could make a move to bring back In­dian spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win as they search for over­seas play­ers for next sea­son.

Ash­win helped Worces­ter­shire to win pro­mo­tion af­ter com­ing in at the tail end of the sea­son.

Worces­ter­shire need to find a re­place­ment for John Hast­ings af­ter he opted to only play T20 cricket in fu­ture.

Di­rec­tor of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “Would I love for him to come back? That is an­other op­tion.We have looked at the sched­ule. Ash­win knows Hasto’s sit­u­a­tion and he’d love to play more county cricket.

“We need to try to pin down ex­actly his avail­abil­ity be­cause that could be some­thing we work around.

“We could sort of use him as our banker, say we’ve got him for these games and fill some holes else­where so that could be a pos­si­bil­ity. But know­ing what your fix­tures are is re­ally im­por­tant when you do some­thing like that.

“You wouldn’t mind Ash­win play­ing at Taun­ton, for ex­am­ple, but when are we play­ing at Taun­ton? No one knows.

“Again there are many rea­sons why we will not rush in now, just wait and find out first all of the fix­tures and then avail­abil­ity.We might even wait for the IPL be­cause some guys miss out on it and then sud­denly there is more avail­abil­ity.

“The dan­ger there is it is Fe­bru­ary and it is not an easy sit­u­a­tion with visas. It can be very tricky, the over­seas player slot. I’ve signed many over­seas play­ers at the end of an English sea­son and they’ve not made it to the start of the next English sea­son be­cause of in­jury.

“There is no mad rush at the mo­ment and it’s nice to have the abil­ity to sit back.”

Hast­ings and Ash­win took 36 Cham­pi­onship wick­ets be­tween them in 2017, but Rhodes isn’t lim­it­ing his op­tions.

He added: “I’ve had a cou­ple of meet­ings with our cap­tain Joe Leach about it.We put some names to­gether on a big sheet — a hit list.When we looked deeply into it, we re­alised there is a lot of wa­ter to pass un­der the bridge.

“The IPL plays a ma­jor part in a lot of the top play­ers’ sched­ules with the ex­tra­or­di­nary money and that’s their pri­or­ity. One of the as­pects with us is we don’t want to wait un­til June.We want an over­seas player from day one.

“Whether we break it up into blocks, that could be an op­tion. Whether we try and take some­one for the whole sea­son, that is an­other op­tion.

“When we’ve had these two meet­ings, we’ve de­cided let’s not rush, take our time and see how things ma­te­ri­alise.

“The good thing now is it gives us a bit of flex­i­bil­ity to plug some holes in the squad but hav­ing said all that it is re­ally im­por­tant to say we are all dis­ap­pointed for John that his ca­reer in the longer and 50-over for­mats has ended.

“It is not a nice time for any crick­eter and for some­one as whole-hearted, well-liked and pop­u­lar in our dress­ing room as John it’s a big blow.

“We wish him all the best in the T20 this win­ter and it’s a shame his body has not quite stood up to the longer form.”

Just cham­pion: Ravi Ash­win, topleft, cel­e­brates win­ning the Di­vi­sion Two ti­tle with Worces­ter­shire last month

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