Faf du Plessis to fill Chris Gayle void at Somerset CCC
BRIAN Rose has hailed the all-round ability of South Africa star Faf du Plessis – who is joining Somerset in place of Chris Gayle, after the Jamaican delivered the bad news the county had feared.
The West Indies opener yesterday informed Somerset he would be returning to international cricket in time for the forthcoming one-day international series with England, which clashes with the Friends Life t20, and, as a result, would be reneging on his contract at the County Ground.
But, while Rose, pictured, acknowledged that Somerset 'have been messed around', he was quick to sign a quality replacement – and hinted that Du Plessis could even become his county's main overseas signing for the second half of the season.
The 27-year-old – who is very similar in ability to Roelof van der Merwe, who became such a hit at Taunton last summer – has taken 49 Twenty20 wickets at 15.89 with his legbreaks.
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The Chennai Super Kings opener also averages 24.68 with a strike-rate of 122.75 in the 20-over format, in addition to a 31.52 average from 21 ODIs.
Director of cricket Rose said: "On top of his bowling and batting, both of which are very effective, he must be the best fielder in the world at the moment.
"I am absolutely delighted we are able to sign such a quality player.
"We were pursuing him as soon as we knew there may be a problem with Gayle – he has been like a bird in the hand. He is a very versatile cricketer, very similar to Roelof – and I only wish we could have them both.
"People may talk about Chris Gayle not coming and say it's a disaster, but we genuinely tried our best to get him here – it just didn't work out and so we move on. In one way, I am not concerned in the slightest that it has panned out like this.
"We faced the same situation with Kieron Pollard, when he said he wanted to play for the West Indies this summer, and you can't replace Kieron – just as you can't replace Chris. But what you can do is adjust – and we will do that."
Somerset still need to sign an overseas player for all formats of the game for the second half of the season – and Du Plessis is now in the frame.
"It is a possibility," said Rose. "We are having a look at that at the moment. I have only just started to consider that, but we must also remember he is very close to the South Africa Test team, so we will have to wait and see."
Given that Gayle, pictured, has signed a contract with Somerset, the full implications of his decision to opt out remain unclear – but Rose hopes the issue does not become one for the lawyers.
"I hope it doesn't come to that – and I don't think it will," said Rose. "But maybe this type of thing is something for the ICC and the ECB to have a good look at."
Gayle said he was foregoing his Somerset contract in order to make a "commitment to West Indies cricket and to West Indies cricket fans".
Once his stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore comes to an end, the explosive left-hander will make himself available to West Indies for all forms of the game.
Somerset, meanwhile, take on Surrey at The Oval this evening in the opening game of this season's CB40 (3.40pm). Vernon Philander will not play, so Jamie Overton is expected to make his debut, while Somerset are yet to decide whether Nick Compton or Pete Trego will open the batting with Craig Kieswetter.
Somerset (from): Kieswetter (wkt), Compton, Trego, Hildreth (capt), Suppiah, Buttler, Meschede, Gregory, C Overton, J Overton, Dockrell, Waller.
LV County Championship – Division One – Lord's: No play due to rain. Old Trafford: Nottinghamshire 169 (S R Patel 69, S C Kerrigan 4-45, G Chapple 4-44) & 122-2 v Lancashire 146 (A R Adams 7-32). Edgbaston: Durham 163 (K H D Barker 5-33, C J C Wright 4-41) v Warwickshire 195-7 (I R Bell 106 no).
LV County Championship – Division Two – The SWALEC Stadium: No play due to rain. Northampton: No play due to rain. Scarborough: Yorkshire 447 (J M Bairstow 182, A McGrath 90, A W Gale 80, W A White 5-90) v Leicestershire 116 (A McGrath 4-21) & 3-1.