Former New Zealand coach John Bracewell has pinched one of our best fast-bowling prospects.
The coach of English county Gloucestershire has signed New Zealand Under-19 representative James Fuller on a three-year deal from the 2011 season.
"He's one of the best prospects around," New Zealand Cricket's specialist bowling coach Vaughn Johnson said. "He's athletic, gets pace and bounce and, though he's got one or two things to refine, his future is bright."
Fuller was born in South Africa in January 1990 and later lived in Auckland before a move to Otago three years ago. He played two games for Otago last summer but, because he has just had ankle surgery and is not available till after Christmas, the province chose not to contract him for 2010-11.
Bracewell spotted the opening after being impressed by Fuller during the Under-19 World Cup in Christchurch last summer. He has a British passport and therefore qualifies for Gloucestershire as a home-grown player but, by securing his future for the next three years, he effectively disqualifies himself from playing for New Zealand.
Otago coach Mike Hesson has been in Australia with New Zealand A this month was still getting his head around the decision yesterday.
"Because he was injured, we were unable to rank him [on their contracts list], but he was there or thereabouts," Hesson said.
"From Otago's point of view it's disappointing. He was a big part of our future. We had spent time on him and we planned to have him play for us this year but, from what I understand, now he will have to play as an overseas player here."
Fuller is the latest on a long list of Kiwis to sign with Gloucestershire, either as a home-grown player or an import. Craig Spearman broke the ice, followed by Hamish Marshall. James Franklin and Ian Butler have been hired imports this summer.
Franklin saw the humorous side. "We are taking over Gloucestershire at the moment," he told BBC Radio. "I played him [Fuller] in my last game of the season back home and he's a quick bowler and looks a good athlete."
Bracewell said on the county's website: "James has enormous potential as a pace bowler and ball striker. He is a genuine athlete who has chosen cricket as his profession and Gloucestershire will reap the benefit."
Fuller was also quoted in the county release as saying, "I am extremely grateful to Gloucester for having faith in me, and look forward to repaying that through my pace bowling, and all-rounder ability."
In two games for Otago, Fuller took two wickets and scored 31 runs at 10.33.
Gloucester currently sit mid-table in division 2 of the county championship.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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