Chris Waters '“ Yorkshire's overseas '˜stars' have failed to match Darren Lehmann
THERE is no doubt as to the greatest overseas signing in Yorkshire's history.
His name is Darren Lehmann, and during 88 first-class matches for the club between 1997 and 2006 the Australian scored 8,871 runs at an average of 68.76.
Although no one expects such sizeable returns from Lehmann’s successors the stark reality is that Yorkshire are not getting enough from their overseas players.
This year the club used three at different times in the County Championship, the New Zealanders Kane Williamson and Jeet Raval plus India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, and their combined return in 13 games was 474 runs in 25 innings at an average of 18.96.
If anything highlights the batting problems that Yorkshire have had for some time now it is surely the fact that not even the world’s best players are shining for them – let alone some of their home-grown batsmen.
Williamson was hardly a disaster with 218 runs in six innings at 36.33, although he has a Test average of 50.35 and is comfortably one of the best in the business.
Pujara is another class act although his signing was, perhaps, more of a risk considering that he flopped last year at Nottinghamshire where he managed only 333 runs in 12 innings at 27.75.
This time his return was nearly twice as poor – 172 runs in 12 innings at 14.33, and that from a man who averages 49.57 in Tests.
Raval’s Test experience is not nearly so extensive; he has played just 11 games, average 38.11, but he, too, was well down on that mark.
Having signed for the last four games Raval contributed 84 runs in seven innings at an average of 12.00, his short-term recruitment every bit as ineffective as that of the West Indian Kraigg Brathwaite the previous year (40 runs in four innings at 10.00).
This year, of course, few batsmen have prospered around the shires. The average runs per wicket in the Championship was 26.70 (the lowest since 1974), some of the pitches were very tricky, and it is difficult for batsmen when the Championship is shoved into the season’s margins – particularly so for overseas players dipping in and out.
At the same time Yorkshire have every right to expect more from their international stars with few having had a significant impact in recent times.
Indeed, one has to go back to 2012 when the South African batsman David Miller and Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc helped Yorkshire to their first T20 Finals Day to find the last time that Yorkshire’s overseas players had a really telling effect.
Yorkshire have forged an ongoing relationship with Williamson, who has done a good job over the years, but their short-term overseas forays have met with limited success – last year’s recruitment of Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed another example.
Of course there will never be another Lehmann, whose Yorkshire record was quite remarkable. But as the club look ahead to next year and beyond even a poor man’s Lehmann would be an improvement.