With the fixture list on the horizon and counties announcing their marquee overseas signings ahead of the 2022 season, we look at three exciting prospects and which counties would be an ideal fit for them to flourish.
The 22-year-old dynamic opener was unlucky to miss out on New Zealand’s World Cup squad so will be eager to break back in and the T20 Blast provides an excellent opportunity before the Blackcaps aim to go one better than last time.
Allen is making a name for himself with his strike rate and ability to find the boundary. Striking at 176 against seam and 163 versus spin, he possesses elite dynamic numbers. Averaging 32 runs and 18.9 balls per dismissal, means a standard innings from him is 32 from 19 balls. An excellent start to any innings and of course has the ability to kick on. During his stint with Lancashire last year, he didn’t quite seem to hit the heights Lancs fans wanted. Although looking at the numbers, he averaged 33 and struck at 159, a higher strike rate than anyone in their top order by some distance. However, the red rose have signed Phil Salt so a return to Old Trafford looks out of the window. He is currently plying his trade in the New Zealand Super Smash, striking at 202 so is in fine form on home turf. So who should be after his signature?
The Bears had the fourth worst average powerplay score in the Blast last year, averaging 48.9 runs in the first six overs. Notts had the best (63) and Worcestershire the worst (41.7). The Pears have already added Matthew Wade so that’s why they are not on this list. The Edgbaston side also lost on average the most wickets in the powerplay, 2.4 so need that firepower and stability at the top of their order. A reshuffle of their order and adding Allen at the top, having played regularly at Edgbaston with Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred would set them on the right path to reaching finals day having lost out in the quarter finals last year. That is quite impressive considering how poor the were with the bat in the first six overs.
Another losing quarter finalist, Hants had the third worst average powerplay score which was 48, although they only lost 1.1 wickets during this phase as they had Darcy Short and James Vince at the top of their order. Short has been used in the middle order and has struggled during the latest BBL, striking at only 101 in 2022 so far, and 120 during 2021. Allen and Vince would give Hampshire a duo teams would fear, although alternatively they could promote Joe Weatherley to open and use their overseas spot elsewhere. The signing of Ross Whiteley from Worcestershire means Colin de Grandhomme’s overseas slot can be used in another place within the side, and they do need to address those slow starts. 16th out of 18 in the powerplay must improve.
Another side who struggled in the powerplay last campaign, averaging a score of 49/2. At a home ground where short boundaries are well publicised, Allen’s elite boundary percentage of 25.7 would help take full advantage at Chelmsford. With budget for Allen also being an important point, Essex do have Will Buttleman coming through their Second XI and will be due an opportunity in the summer. So, the potential inclusions of him and Weatherley at Hampshire make Birmingham Bears Finn Allen’s top destination.
We profiled Finn Allen in Issue 1 of our magazine. You can find more info and purchase yours here: http://www.scoutingcricket.com/magazine
With budget being a key component that counties who don’t host test matches may be a stumbling block for, Zazai is a solid and potentially cheaper alternative to Allen. The 23-year-old destructive Afghan left hand pace hitter has experience playing on the franchise circuit playing in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and most recently in the Abu Dhabi T10. Striking at 147 in T20I’s, Zazai is noticeably impressive against right arm off-spin, which would normally be a left handers negative match up. He strikes at 154 and averages 35, although this figure stands at 109 and 16 on the franchise circuit so finding that balance to see how good he really is against this type of bowling will be interesting to see. Is in good form after the T10. For batters who faced over 100 balls, Zazai had the sixth highest strike rate which was 200.1. Also boasts an elite boundary percentage across his T20 career of 23.2 and a six percentage of 9.1. Where would he fit?
For the same reasons as to why they should recruit Finn Allen, but Zazai may be the more affordable option.
Quite mediocre in terms of runs scored in the powerplay (51.7) which would see them rank 11th, whilst losing 1.8 wickets, which is the joint 7th highest, the Steelbacks may look for reinforcements at the top of their order. With Ricardo Vasconcelos operating as an anchor, they could do with a hitter to come in alongside him, especially since the departure of Richard Levi. If he was to link up with Mohammad Nabi who is a fan favourite at the County Ground, the Afghan duo would make for an exciting overseas combination.
Finished last year’s PSL as leading wicket taker, claiming 20 victims which earned himself a spot as reserve for Pakistan’s World Cup squad and will be looking to force his way into the Starting XI this time round. With Shaheen Shah Afridi (Middlesex), Haris Rauf (Yorkshire) and Naseem Shah (Gloucestershire) all playing in the competition, Dahani may also go down the same route as his international teammates. During his maiden PSL campaign for Multan Sultans, he showcased how good he was in all three phases, particularly in the middle overs as a right arm enforcer. Of those 20 wickets, 4 came in the powerplay, 5 in overs 7-11, 5 during 12-16 and 6 at the death. A nice even spread throughout the innings.
Already have a settled top five of Hales, Clarke, Duckett, Patel and Moores. Spin options of Patel, Carter and Harrison. Right arm seamers including Fletcher, Ball, Chappell and Paterson. Mullaney as an all-rounder to balance the side at seven and you’d expect Dan Christian may return to bat six and provide another bowling option as well as skippering the side. With Fletcher being used as a top-tail bowler, Dahani and Ball would be two excellent quick options for the middle overs that could really take this Notts side to another level and assert their dominance and adds the flexibility of another three-phase quick.
The Eagles had the worst economy in the powerplay last season (9.4) and the least wickets (11), so need some potency up front. Operating as an enforcer who can operate in all three phases, he’ll also be required at the death where Essex didn’t set the world alight. They came 10th in death bowling economy so were around average, but the inclusion of Dahani could help take them to the next level and reach the knockout stages after finishing 7th in their group last time round.
The Pears had the fourth worst economy at the death last year (10.5), and Ben Dwarshuis grabbed nine wickets during this stage (joint second most in the comp), but his return is yet to be announced. If he gets the opportunity to lead the side as their key death bowler, this will stand him in good stead for the World Cup if he impresses.