Friday, 2 December 2011

The worst kept secret: Murali Kartik signs

The signing of Murali Kartik, first mooted around the time of the CB40 final in September, possibly even before that, was duly announced on the Surrey website yesterday. The former Lancashire, Middlesex and Somerset left-armer will be available in all formats for most of the 2012 season (more of that later).

Adams has made a virtue of a "mystery" spinner, specifically one that turns the ball away from the right handed batsman. Kartik certainly fulfills the second of those requirements, I'm not sure he can be considered a 'mystery' though. His formidable county pedigree - 319 wickets and counting - coupled with his ability to hold the bat competently make him a solid signing.

Pragyan Ojha, Kartik's countryman and late-season hero in 2011, will be the hardest of acts to follow, Ojha's recent exploits (20 wickets at 22 apiece) in India's recent series against the West Indies ought to herald a lengthy run in the national side. However, Kartik has proven a matchwinner in the past, 2011 was no vintage year as he only played 8 Championship games, returning 26 wickets but 2010 was far better. In 11 matches for Somerset he took 45 wickets at less than 20 each, and bagged five 5-fors in the process.

Hopefully he can rediscover his best form, 591 First Class wickets doesn't happen by accident. His presence will be a positive thing for the development of fellow left-armer Zafar Ansari, and other young spinners like Spriegel and Freddie van den Bergh. Though with Gareth Batty also scrapping for a place, it will be interesting to see how Adams builds his teams. Presumably 2011's spinner-heavy limited overs sides will be replicated next year.

His precise availability is by no means certain and the announcement on the official site has undergone something of a refinement. From declaring that Kartik will be available for the pre-season preparation, and a quote from Chris Adams stating that he'll be available "for the entirety" of the 2011 season, there is now considerably less certainty. On his own Twitter feed he has said he'll join after the IPL (he played for Pune Warriors in 2011 and presumably will do so again next year) which ends on May 27th.

This is par for the course for any top-quality overseas spinner these days, but it does seem odd that the announcement should be unclear on that note. It remains to be seen whether a short-term replacement will be sought, but because of the record-breaking early start this year, it does mean we are potentially without an overseas player for seven Championship matches and three CB40 matches.

In short, Kartik's signing is very positive news. An attacking spinner, provided he can find his best form, is hugely valuable as we know only too well. Further action on the player signings front may well be very limited from now on, but 2012's squad is taking shape rapidly.


miltonkeynesman said...

Josh - in the past, overseas players announced at this time of year have often failed to appear. I suspect Murali will play IPL and given his record and the present Indian team I have hope that he will show up and do well at the business end of the season. With him at one end of a turning pitch, a second spinner will do better at the other. He isnt Saqlain, Mushtaq or Kumble but he can bowl, he can hold a bat as you say, but memory has him down as a less assured fielder. Yes, it looks like the 5 spinner one-day team might continue in 2012.

Is Arafat likely to be around at all or Nannes for the twenty20 ?

I did wonder if they were in the market for a batsman, particularly an opener. We seem to have just the minimum number of batsmen for CC matches and it might be difficult if one of them was injured or called up for England. I am ignoring Pietersen of course, but then I would prefer it if he didnt bother turning up! However they might be counting on one of the youngsters to breakthrough this year like Jason Roy last season. It would be nice if Harinath could establish himself. Perhaps an option would be that the early season overseas player, pre-Kartik could be a batsman ?

Anyway good to see Ojha doing well for India in the tests and going to Australia.

Happy Days to come.

GreenJJ said...

You make a good point about the overseas signings - Chawla didn't show up did he?! It will be good to have two spinners operating in tandem, him as a leftie and Batty at the other end, an offie bowling it on a six pence, could work nicely. Alternatively him and Ansari working in tandem could be good too! Another good point about his fielding, hadn't thought of that.

Not sure about Arafat, but after his disappointing season this year I'd think Adams would be reluctant to go with him again purely on a PR point. I really hope Nannes is available in the T20, he was excellent this year.

I had the same thought about a batsman as overseas - there are more high quality, non-IPL batsmen around. Or, as you suggest, they could give Harinath a run of games - might be just what he needs.

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