11 September 2008
ALAN BUTCHER'S VIEW
IT'S LOOKING like we need two wins out of two now to have any chance of saving ourselves from relegation, so it's frustrating that we haven't even been able to get on the park for the best part of four out of the last five games.
But you can't do anything about the weather. It has spoiled what was shaping up to be a very good title race as well, so it's not just us that have been affected.
Even in the rain at Kent, we still saw another outstanding innings from Mark Ramprakash. He is on a different plane at the moment. He's playing with more freedom again and it is a joy to watch.
You don't have to coach a player like Ramps. Not many players will get to his level but there are still things everyone can learn from him. The way he watches the ball is something our young players should take note of. He watches the ball on to the bat more closely than anyone in the team, and he scores the most runs. It's no coincidence.
The good news off the pitch this week was that we finally managed to get Shoaib Akhtar to join us for the last few weeks of the season.
I don't know what the initial problem was with his visa. Perhaps immigration have tightened up since he was last playing over here. The funny thing is I thought the biggest question mark was over whether he would be able to leave Pakistan, not whether he could come into this country. It's just one of those things I suppose.
But the situation got turned around mainly because he really wanted to come here and play. He hasn't played first class cricket since last December so I think he was keen to get back into it. He's a big character too, which has helped him settle in.
Shoaib's told me he wants to keep playing for another four years, but I don't know if he is that well suited to playing full time on the county circuit. He runs in so hard and puts so much effort into every ball that it takes its toll on the body. With his run up I think we'd struggle to keep down the over rate too!
We are already looking at what other overseas players we could bring in for next year. We have made a couple of offers to people but we have to work out who is available and when. The IPL and increased international fixture list make it hard to recruit the same quality of player as you saw in the county game a few years ago.
The amount of money in the IPL especially means that English county cricket is going to be less appealing to certain overseas players. They can now earn more money for less effort. That's why you see fewer big names than before.
As for me, I still intend to be here next season whatever happens on the pitch. I've got a contract here and I intend to honour it.
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