James Franklin off to ply his trade with Notts
James Franklin got the phone call he'd been waiting for and ought to make his debut for Nottinghamshire this week.
The 33-year-old Wellington captain had been a regular on the international Twenty20 circuit, or in English county cricket, for years. But he was reluctantly eyeing a winter at home, after no clubs or franchises offered him an off-season contract.
The domestic bliss came to an end late last week, when Notts signed him to replace Australian quick bowler Peter Siddle. Franklin will now be available for seven Twenty20 games and the first few rounds of England's domestic one-day tournament.
"He's keen to get some exposure, get some cash and start his pre-season a bit earlier than he would've," Wellington coach Jamie Siddons said yesterday.
Franklin quickly summoned his coach to the Westpac Stadium nets and, after hitting balls on Thursday and Friday, the former Black Cap was off.
Siddons was hopeful a few good judges would see Franklin was a more complete player than he might've been in the past.
That included the New Zealand selectors.
"He's made some significant changes. Just basic stuff, like I do with all the players, but it buys him a bit more time and a bit more timing when he's out of nick. Once he started to get it, he had a really good year and hopefully that can stick and he'll only get better," Siddons said.
"I'd like to think he's still in the [Black Caps] mix for everything. He's still young enough, still offers a bit. Captaincy probably helped get the best out of him [for Wellington] as well."
Things haven't been quite so positive for one of Siddons' former charges. Mohammad Ashraful, who captained Bangladesh during Siddons' stint as national coach, was banned for eight years last week, after being found guilty of match fixing.
The youngest player to score a test century, at 17 years and 61 days, Ashraful's career has ended in disappointment and disgrace.
"He was as talented a cricketer as I've seen," Siddons said of the now-29-year-old.
"Not so big a hitter, but he had all the shots and I did just keep asking myself why he wasn't going better. The question mark's hanging over him now, but he was a really good player and a good kid.
"I don't know how he got involved [with match fixing] and where and what kept him involved, but it's a shame. Bangladesh can't afford to lose cricketers like that, but he's done the wrong thing and now he has to pay."
Ashraful averaged just 24 in test cricket, but Siddons pointed to his record against Sri Lanka and Muttiah Muralitharan as evidence that he could play. He scored five of his six test hundreds against Sri Lanka, averaging 45.41 in 13 matches.