To mark the 50th anniversary of overseas players coming to county cricket in large numbers, we’ve asked an expert on each county to pick their top three for that club. Here’s Warwickshire, as selected by George Dobell, senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo who has covered Warwickshire for the best part of 20 years.
1. JEETAN PATEL
New Zealand (2009-)
I thought Jeetan was a pretty modest signing when he first arrived but he’s been terrific for Warwickshire in all formats. On good days or bad days, he’s someone you can rely upon.
He’s a far better bowler now than when he first played for New Zealand and he’s reinvented himself as a modern off-spinner, bowling much quicker than he used to. He benefitted from his partnership with Keith Barker, using those footmarks you get from a left-armer, and that worked really well when they won the Championship in 2012. He’s also averaged the best part of 30 with the bat, often making those runs very aggressively and changing the course of a match.
He’s won all three competitions with the club, and been integral in those victories, and such is his stature now that he’s captain at a really difficult time for Warwickshire.
2. BRIAN LARA
West Indies (1994-98)
I haven’t seen anyone bat better than Brian Lara. Warwickshire got him at a time when his greed for runs was insatiable. They won the treble when he was at the club in 1994, with Lara scoring seven centuries in the space of eight first-class innings, and one of them was 501 not out!
Dermot Reeve (Warwickshire’s captain at the time) and Brian never got on great and Dermot will still joke that had they got Manoj Prabhakar, who was their original overseas signing for 1994, they would have won the quadruple. Prabhakar failed a fitness test ahead of that season so that gave them the green light to get Lara instead, who’d just scored his world-record 375. There’s an urban myth that Prabhakar was given a fitness test that a leopard wouldn’t have passed.
3. ALLAN DONALD
South Africa (1987-2000)
I would have liked to include Alvin Kallicharran, Rohan Kanhai or Tom Pritchard, the New Zealand fast bowler, but AD was very much part of the community and the fabric of Warwickshire, and played in an incredibly successful team.
They signed him as a real unknown. He was raw but developed into one of the great fast bowlers – as good as it gets and riveting to watch. He was part of the side that won the double in 1995 and a very loyal player who later came back as coach.
You never really saw Curtly Ambrose, for instance, bowl at his best for Northants. But Donald gave it his all every time. He took it massively seriously and was hugely respected by the players and members.