Big-hitting all-rounder Jimmy Neesham 'a brilliant signing' for Steelbacks

"What a cricketer he is, and it is great to get his signature because he is perfect for what we need."

Head coach John Sadler is in no doubt the Steelbacks have landed a ‘brilliant signing’ and ‘fantastic cricketer’ in New Zealand star Jimmy Neesham.

The 31-year-old was this week unveiled as the club’s overseas capture for the 2022 Vitality T20 Blast campaign, with the hard-hitting all-rounder putting pen to paper on a deal that will see him available for the duration of the competition.

Neesham is widely regarded as one of the top white ball players in world cricket, playing a starring role for a New Zealand side that reached the final of both the 2019 50-over World Cup, and the T20 version before Christmas.

Sadly for the Kiwis, they lost both of those matches to England and Australia respectively, but Neesham definitely showed what he is capable of on the world stage.

In 2019, he hit 13 from five balls in the Super Over to take his country to the brink of their first World Cup, only to be denied when Martin Guptill was run-out by a matter of inches going for the winning run.

And then last October, he changed the course of the T20 World Cup semi-final against England, hammering 27 from just 11 balls to win the match for his country.

He has produced many other outstanding performances in a glittering career to date, and Sadler is understandably elated to have acquired his services for the Steelbacks.

Jimmy Neesham hits Jofra Archer for six during the Super Over of the 2019 World Cup Final at Lord's

“We are delighted,” said the Northants head coach. “What a cricketer he is, and it is great to get his signature because he is perfect for what we need.

“We identified the skill-set that we needed, that power in the top middle order with the bat, but also he bowls and can bowl at any stage, and he is a brilliant athlete and fielder.

“And as well as that, he is a winner.”

Neesham is a player that Sadler knows plenty about, having coached him during the Kiwi’s T20 stint at Derbyshire in 2016, while Steelbacks skipper Josh Cobb was a team-mate of his during The Hundred last summer.

Jimmy Neesham in action for New Zealand against Australia in the final of the ICC World T20 in October

And those connections proved key in Neesham heading to Wantage Road, with the player himself tweeting: "Stoked to be heading to Wantage Road to join up with a couple of old mates! Let’s do this!"

“Cobby knows him a little bit through the Welsh Fire when they were team-mates last year, and I have had a little bit of time with him before,” said Sadler.

“I have coached him and worked with him, so I know him a little bit, and all of us identified him as somebody who would be a perfect fit.

“Once we decided that, we made contact and it all happened pretty quickly, and that is normally a sign that things are right.

Jimmy Neesham worked under Northants head coach while the pair were at Derbyshire together in 2016

“When I worked with him at Derby it was a few years back, and he was obviously a fantastic cricketer then, but he is now five or six years down the line.

“He has the experience and the knowledge, but as well as skill-set and the character, we know he is going to have a really good influence in the dressing room.

“He will help us as a unit, because he comes from that New Zealand side that do things really well.

“I think everybody will agree that New Zealand are a leading force in world cricket at the minute, with the way they go about things.

“So it will be nice to pick his brains and learn from him, as well as benefit from his performance. It is a brilliant signing for us.”

The signing has not surprisingly provoked excitement among the club’s supporters, who are going to get the chance to watch a world-class performer who is at the top of his game at the County Ground next summer.

John Sadler is delighted with the capture of Jimmy Neesham for the Steelbacks' T20 Blast campaign

“He certainly is (at the top of his game), and that is what we want,” admitted Sadler.

“The T20 is massive for us and we want to give it everything we have got.

“The feedback we have got from people around the ground and the supporters and fans on social media is really positive, which is really nice. We are just delighted to get him on board.”