The seven season county veteran has signed for the entirety of 2011 as our overseas player, acting as the second such player in the T20s alongside Shaun Tait.
Arafat has been a regular on the county circuit for a long time and he's still only 28. He'll be available (barring injury) for pretty much every game and offers something in both the batting and obviously the bowling departments - I'm not sure how good his fielding is. His experience will bring a lot to a very green fast bowling group and it also goes some way to plugging the giant gap left by one C. T. Tremlett.
As Chris Adams says on the official site we have suffered for some years now regarding the overseas signing through a mixture of purely picking the wrong players (Elliott, Rao) and not having the right players available for any length of time (Harris). Arafat certainly rights that wrong and the continuity he will provide should not be underestimated.
And neither should his talents, over 700 first class wickets at 23, and a batting average of 26 including four hundreds (two in the County Championship). He was in good form for Sussex last year too, 37 wickets at 25 and 255 runs at 36 including two fifties. He's a very fine county number 8.
It won't surprise you to hear that there are still some niggling problems at the back of my mind. We have a lot of batsmen who can bowl (De Bruyn, Hamilton-Brown) and bowlers who can bat (Meaker, Jordan, Arafat) and Gareth Batty, but no genuine allrounder. I'm sure there are plenty of counties cursing their lack of a Daniel Vettori or Andrew Flintoff though. What I think will hurt us even more is the lack of any kind of front line spinning options, and I'm risking sounding like a broken record here for which I apologise.
Batty is a valuable cricketer, on and off the field and I don't wish to belittle his contribution to the side, but I'm sure even he would acknowledge that he isn't going to be running through sides on a regular basis. Schofield's bowling last season was not up to the standard of the year before, and Simon King is still an unknown quantity.
Moaning aside, I do think we have a decent side. A middle order containing De Bruyn, Hamilton-Brown, Maynard and Davies (and Ramps when he returns) ought to get us plenty of runs and a seam attack of Dernbach, Meaker, Jordan and Arafat is an exciting prospect. I think few would argue that Adams has gone down the wrong route with his signings, it just remains to be seen if he can get them playing the way we need them to.
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