Knights sign big names for Twenty20 league

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 21/09/2012

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The Northern Knights have signed former England wicketkeeper James Foster for their Twenty20 season - but the gloves are still up for grabs for first-class cricket.

Foster and fellow English county professional Steven Croft will turn out for Northern Districts during the three-month HRV Cup campaign, and Croft may also play some first-class matches for the association in the Plunket Shield.

But with Foster playing only the shorter format, the Knights will need a new keeper to replace the retired Peter McGlashan for their four-day and one-day matches this summer.

The Knights have current Black Caps wicketkeeper-batsman B J Watling on their books but with international commitments looming against Sri Lanka, South Africa and England this summer, it is likely he will be unavailable for much of the domestic season.

Foster, 32, has played seven tests, 11 one-day internationals and five Twenty20 matches for England, and was this week named player's player of the year, the people's choice player of the year, and the members' and supporters' choice of player of the year for his Essex county side.

Croft, 27, played for the Auckland Aces in 2009 as a bowling all-rounder but has since developed chiefly into a punishing top-order batsman who was named in England's preliminary squad for the 2012 Twenty20 World Championship before being omitted from the tournament team. He was a member of the side which won the 2011 county championship and was also named Lancashire's player of the year for the past season.

Foster was a prolific six-hitter in the English county T20 competition last season, and has been a team-mate of current Knights Scott Styris and Tim Southee at Essex.

"He's a tremendous signing for us," Styris said.

"He topped the MVP table after the group stages of the UK T20 comp and was called the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world by Essex coach Paul Grayson, such is the high regard in which he is held in the United Kingdom. He's also a like-for-like replacement for Peter McGlashan."

Croft scored 1492 runs across the 2012 county season and claimed career-best bowling figures of six for 41.

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- Waikato Times

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