Cricket: Leicestershire close deal with Kasprowicz

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The Independent Online
LEICESTERSHIRE, THE county champions, have signed Michael Kasprowicz as their overseas player for this summer.

The Australian Test paceman has agreed a one-year contract and replaces the West Indian Phil Simmons as the overseas player at Grace Road. Kasprowicz has not been named in Australia's World Cup squad, which means he is available to play for the whole of the summer. Leicestershire will lose Alan Mullally and Vince Wells for the early part of the season because they are both in the England World Cup squad. Mullally is then expected to play for England in the Test series against New Zealand.

The Leicestershire manager, Jack Birkenshaw, said: "We said that we would wait until the announcement of the World Cup squads before making a decision on our overseas player. I was delighted that Mullally and Wells were selected for England but this did impact our bowling resources and as a result we have been seeking a proven international bowler who would not be involved in the World Cup.

"I was very surprised that a player of Michael's quality had been omitted from the Australian World Cup squad and we moved quickly to secure the services of one of the world's leading players. Phil Simmons has been a popular and successful player here but he is in the West Indies squad of 19 for the World Cup and with the season just five weeks away we had to make a decision between Phil and Michael."

Kasprowicz, who last weekend took a hat-trick for Queensland in their Sheffield Shield match against Victoria, will be joining Leicestershire in time for their first friendly against Northamptonshire in April.

Nottinghamshire have also named their overseas player for the new season, signing up the West Indian all-rounder, Vasbert Drakes, following the decision to part company with the Zimbabwe spin bowler, Paul Strang. Drakes, the 29-year-old Barbadian who has played five one-day internationals for the West Indies, is being given another chance to make an impact in county cricket after having two seasons with Sussex. Drakes came to the attention of the new cricket manager at Trent Bridge, Clive Rice, when he was looking for an overseas player who would be available throughout the season.

The West Indian has made a name for himself with Border in South Africa by playing a major part in their success in the Super Sport series, taking 56 first class wickets to help them reach the final of the four-day competition where they lost to Western Province. Drakes' decision to base himself in South Africa has meant that he is ineligible for the West Indies, due to their regulations about players playing a certain amount of domestic cricket in the Caribbean.

"The important thing was that we had an overseas player who would be available for the whole season, and Vasbert impressed me as being someone who was hungry for success following his achievements with Border," Rice said.

The England A coach, John Emburey, believes Michael Vaughan has shown the potential to be a future full Test captain. The Yorkshire batsman has led from the front on the A team's successful tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa, scoring 336 runs and showing natural leadership qualities.

After England A completed their programme with a 46-run win against the President's XI in Cape Town on Monday, Emburey was full of praise for the 24-year-old. "I think that Michael Vaughan has led the side particularly well. His captaincy has improved throughout. He's led from the front and gained the respect of the players all the way through," Emburey said.

Kent have elected a retired company director, Carl Openshaw, as their new chairman in succession to David Kemp, who retired after the annual meeting in Maidstone last night.

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