By Ronan Alexander
The Vitality T20 Blast is underway, with a real buzz surrounding the competition after the return of fans in the stadiums.
Counties are trying to gain whatever advantage they can to get those crucial early wins on the board, with Notts and Kent taking the approach of signing young under the radar spinners on short term deals to bolster their bowling options.
The Outlaws added 23-year-old leg spinner Calvin Harrison to their ranks, as Kent’s put pen to paper with 23-year-old slow left armer James Logan. Not the most high profile or match-winning names, but who are they and why have they been signed? Let’s take a look, beginning with Harrison.
The South African born leg-spinning all rounder has signed a three month deal after impressing in Notts 2nd XI during the season so far.
He first caught the attention of the Outlaws after playing against them, scoring 121 with the bat and grabbing three wickets in a pre-season friendly in March for Oxford UCCE. His exploits for Notts 2nd XI have now earned him an opportunity in the first team, with his most notable contribution being 4-0-15-3 against Yorkshire 2’s in the 2nd XI T20.
Prior to this, Harrison played two First-Class matches for Oxford UCCE, taking three wickets which include England internationals James Vince and Dawid Malan. He also played two matches in the Blast last summer for Hampshire, taking one wicket for the men from the Ageas Bowl.
He adds another dimension to Peter Moores attack, being the first leg spinner to play for the Outlaws since 2018 when Ish Sodhi had a productive campaign, taking 19 wickets @ 23.21. So Harrison bolsters the spin options of left armers Samit Patel and Liam Patterson-White, as well as off-spinner Matt Carter. Helps to fill the gap left by the departing Imad Wasim who was a huge part of their tournament winning success last summer (well, autumn considering the final was in October!).
Out of the 18 counties, Notts spin attack had the 4th worst economy rate last year (7.70) as well as the 4th worst mid-overs (7-16) economy rate which was 8.03. After making his debut last night against Worcestershire, Harrison filled this void perfectly, (3-0-16-0) in the mid overs and didn’t concede any boundaries.
However, over the last three years, Notts spinners have the 4th most wickets (86), behind Lancashire who have the most with 126, so he does come into a productive spin group.
The late loss of Dan Christian due to his Australia call-up leaves Notts searching for their 6th bowler and extra batting depth. Harrison looks to be the man, although he was due to come in at 10 last night. We could see him jump up the order as Luke Fletcher came in at 8 despite averaging 6.64 in T20 cricket. Notts also have seaming all-rounder options of Lyndon James and Joey Evison to fulfil this role.
The Yorkshireman fills Kent’s position of a slow left arm spinner, signing a two month deal after Imran Qayyum was forced into retirement aged 27 earlier this summer due to a shoulder injury.
Graduated through the Yorkshire Academy and made his first-class debut away to Worcestershire in 2018 before taking 13-4-22-4 against Warwickshire the following summer including the scalp of Dom Sibley.
Featured briefly for Worcestershire’s 2’s earlier this summer before joining the men from Canterbury and stood out for their 2nd XI. His first game against Sussex saw Logan end with figures of 4-0-22-0, taking the new ball and bowling against Phil Salt and Luke Wright, managing to keep them quiet. He again took the new ball against Middlesex and grabbed 1/16 from his four overs. Then in a match where both sides scored over 200, he took 2/41 against Surrey, taking the high profile wickets of Hashim Amla and Mark Stoneman.
Kent’s spin stats didn’t look too favourable in last seasons competition, with their spinners economy rate of 7.91 and strike rate (29.14) being the third worst in the tournament.
They also struggled in the middle overs, with the second worst strike rate (38.71). But Logan will also have Qais Ahmad’s leg-spin to help try and suffocate teams during this phase of the game this campaign when he joins after the third match.
Logan bowled overs 8, 10 and 12 last night, conceding 4, 6 and 5 runs in each over, conceding no boundaries and picking up the scalp of Sam Northeast.
The retired Qayyum was effective last summer, grabbing 11 wickets, the second most for Kent in the comp, so Logan has big shoes to fill but can also expect support from Joe Denly and possibly Jack Leaning too.
A shame for Qayuum but pleased to see Logan get another opportunity!