South Africa’s Test left-arm spinner has signed with the White Rose for the next three County Championship matches, starting against champions Surrey at Scarborough from Sunday.
This will be Maharaj’s second taste of county cricket, having represented Lancashire in a three-game stint towards the back end of last season, taking 17 wickets, including 11 in the tied game against Somerset on, as he describes, a Taunton “turner” last September.
Having made his Test debut in November, 2016 against Australia in Perth, the 29-year-old from Durban has gone on to take 94 wickets in 25 appearances, with a best of 9-129 against Sri Lanka in Colombo last July.
While Maharaj is not in the all-rounder bracket, he is no mug with the bat. Like his bowling, he says he does not like to over complicate things.
“I’ve been working hard on my batting during this pre-season,” said the bowler who started his career as a fast bowler.
“I’d like to contribute not only with the ball but with the bat. I am a bit of an aggressive batsman and like to move the game forwards.
“With the ball, I don’t have much variation apart from your usual stuff that a spinner would have. But, having said that, I rely on my consistency to out-smart batsmen. My ability to read the game has helped me a lot since I started. I’m really excited to see where my skills are at, given we’re in our pre-season.”
Maharaj trained with his new team-mates for the first time at Scarborough on Wednesday.
One of them was former international colleague Duanne Olivier, who has recovered from a hip injury to face Surrey.
“I’ve played against Gary Ballance before, but I don’t know any of the guys apart from Duanne. I’m looking forward to meeting some new faces,” he said. “I’d like to think he played a part in the signing. He sent me a message asking whether my fiance was joining me. I said ‘Yes’. His wife is here, so they can spend some time together away from the field.”
Surrey head to Scarborough with Morne Morkel and Dean Elgar in their ranks, giving the game a distinctly South African flavour.
Maharaj added: “I know Surrey are quite a formidable side who won the Championship last year. It will be a good test. I’ve played with and against a few of their guys.
“I’ve heard about Scarborough and have seen pictures. It seems very beautiful. Hopefully, I’ll be on the winning side for these next three games.”
Maharaj is the fourth overseas player to have represented both Roses rivals alongside Australians Simon Katich, Glenn Maxwell and Jake Lehmann.
Maxwell and Lehmann have also ‘completed the set’ this season, but Maharaj is the first of the four to have played for Lancashire first.
The arrival of Maharaj for matches against Surrey, Essex (Chelmsford) and Somerset (Headingley) will almost certainly mean that slow left-armer James Logan, 21, misses out, having taken four wickets in the second innings of last week’s defeat against Warwickshire at York.
“Logie showed what he can do and there were really good signs for the future. He’s not the finished article, but there’s definitely something to work with,” said first-team coach Andrew Gale.