Imran Tahir to play for Derbyshire in 2017
South Africa’s premier leg-spinner Imran Tahir has signed up to represent Derbyshire in the 2017 County Championship with the World’s No 1 ranked T20 bowler expected to feature for the county from the month of June. Derbyshire will be Tahir’s sixth different County team in his career having played for the likes of Hampshire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Middlesex and most recently Nottinghamshire.
Tahir's wicket-taking ability was quite evident in the 2016 County Championship season where he picked up 25 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 37.20. However, following his side’s relegation to Division Two, the 37-year-old was always expected to move to another County and Derbyshire has now stepped in hoping to improve their own stuttering fortunes having finished bottom of the Division Two table in 2016.
They have already set the ball rolling with the signings of Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson from Surrey as well as 26-year-old all-rounder Luis Reece who was released by Lancashire at the end of the previous campaign. They have also appointed a new Director of Cricket in Kim Barnett as well as roped in the services of former India coach John Wright as a specialist T20 coach.
Expressing delight at securing Tahir’s signature for the upcoming season, Barnett expressed hope that the South African would not just lead from the front as a bowler but also help pass on his vast experience of playing international cricket to the team’s young spinners like Matt Critchley.
"We are keen to strengthen our squad with experienced match winners who will also help our talented youngsters," Barnett said. "With his vast international and domestic experience here in England, Imran fits the bill perfectly.
"He is one of the best leg spinners in the world and we're very excited to have him on board. Not only will Imran bring an added dimension to our bowling line-up, his influence on the team and players, such as Matt Critchley, will be immense."
Tahir himself is looking forward to playing the role of a mentor but is also keen to enjoy himself on the field revealing his love for the pitches in England.
"I love playing cricket in England and I'm looking forward to playing a senior role at Derbyshire," Tahir said. "I've learned a lot over the years and if I can pass my knowledge on to youngsters and help win matches, then it's a great option for me.
With South Africa touring England for a bilateral ODI series in May followed by the Champions Trophy, Tahir will have enough time to acclimatise with the conditions in England before donning the Derbyshire jersey in June. In the process, Tahir will equalise former Australian batsman Marcus North’s record of being the only other overseas player to represent six different County teams.