From The Nursery End: Why I’m nonplussed by Middlesex signing Malinga

14:35 11 May 2012

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga will join Middlesex for the Twenty20 campaign

EMPICS Sport

“I do like my overseas stars to be proper members of the team and not a hired gun bought in for a few weeks’ work”

Let’s start with a quiz: what is noteworthy about this particular Middlesex line-up, besides there being no obvious wicketkeeper – what do they all have in common: Strauss, Robson, Rogers, Morgan, Dexter, Stirling, Berg, Rayner, Crook, Ireland, Collymore. And we can have Scollay, Davey and Balbirnie waiting in the wings.

While you’re mulling that over (if you need to) here, to mark a rare appearance for Nottinghamshire of Graeme Swann for their match against Middlesex, is a Beasts XI. It has a rather long tail.

Jeff Crowe

Kiwi opener known for carrion his bat

Peter Roebuck

Full of shots, used to being hit, game in the West Country

Graeme Pollock

SA great, hooked slippery bowling, often caught

Lord Hawke

Sharp-eyed, watchful, Lincs-born Yorkshireman

Andy Moles

Small, round, dark and furry Warks batsman

Graeme Swann

Never an ugly duck

Nathan Lyon

Mane Aussie bowler who preys on a weak tail

Arthur Dolphin

Diving Yorks keeper who was also good in the deep

GG Arnold

Old Surrey workhorse. Bowled a nag length

Nathan Buck

It stops with this Leics top-dollar bowler

Rodney Hogg

Bulky Aussie who bowled snorters

Umpire

Dickie Bird

Chirpy chap, good at feathering his own nest

Quiz answer: the link among those 14 Middlesex players is that they were all born outside England. It’s curious that there should be so many – half the squad – but I’ve no problem with that, and obviously a good few of them are qualified for England. People move around these days and you can’t expect them all to be from north London. Even Yorkshire gave that up years ago.

But I do like my overseas stars to be proper members of the team and not a hired gun bought in for a few weeks’ work. So yes please to Wayne Daniel, Desmond Haynes, Jacques Kallis and Justin Langer and those in the 14 above, but no thank you to Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and one or two others who I’ve already forgotten.

And I’m afraid that also means no thanks to Lasith Malinga. Angus Fraser dropped a heavy hint at the AGM that Middlesex were after him, and it’s been confirmed that he will be playing seven T20 games this summer.

Every county chases the T20 stars - no doubt at levels of pay that would make a banker blush - but I’d rather see one of our own seamers, and we have lots of quality, than Malinga. I don’t blame Malinga. In his shoes, who wouldn’t do the same thing? But if it goes well for both parties will he come back next year? Will he play in any other form of cricket? They don’t, do they.

The trouble is I value loyalty and continuity above a marginally increased chance of success and larger takings on the gate. One of our own rather than an arbitrary world star with no previous or future connection with the club.

When, in the T20 final, Malinga once again takes the man-of-the-match award after polishing off the opposition with those toe-busting yorkers, leaving Middlesex champions, I may rethink. Though of course he might not be available for finals day, having gone on to his next job.

You can follow Laurence on Twitter @Laurence_Klein

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