Jim Lyon – The cap’s not an issue, high-profile signings will make domestic game richer

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

It can only be for the good of domestic cricket that two giants of the modern game will be playing over here this summer.

Okay, it is far from ideal – on so many levels – they will both be playing for Surrey but the chance to see Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting on the county circuit is something we should all be pleased about.

There are obviously those of a cynical disposition (for once not me) who will make mention of the salary cap.

But, as Durham found to their cost last year, it is harder than some might think to escape the ECB’s policing of creative payments.

Indeed, if the salary cap is to be criticised for anything it is that it is too high. Most counties can only dream of getting close to spending the £1.8m they are restricted to.

Besides, with three sizeable earners no longer on the wage bill in Mark Ramprakash, Rory Hamilton-Brown and the tragic Tom Maynard, there will be more money sloshing around the hardly cash-strapped Brown Hatters.

Such details aside, let us look forward to seeing a couple of high-quality overseas players plying their trade again.

Three decades or so ago, long before the all-year-round demands of international cricket, our domestic game was awash with the very best players on the planet. Players who returned year after year.

The names still flow freely.

Malcolm Marshall, Desmond Haynes, Michael Holding, Allan Border, Gordon Greenidge, Richard Hadlee, Viv Richards. And on and on.

I am sure Northamptonshire would also be delighted to call upon any of Mushtaq Mohammad, Kapil Dev, Winston Davis, Curtly Ambrose, Bishan Bedi etc.

All too often these days overseas players have left before we noticed them and, even if we had realised they were here, we would not necessarily know who they are anyway.

At times it feels counties are signing foreign players simply because they can.

In some club cricket, an overseas can be useful as it is a guaranteed body to put out on the pitch every week. It should be different in the professional game.

Would last summer really have been any the poorer for not having Rob Nicol, Brendan Nash and Steve Magoffin on show? Steady players they may be.

This year will certainly be richer for Smith and Ponting touring the grounds.

Admittedly Ponting is on the way down from his peak but, I for one, would still appreciate the opportunity of seeing him in action.

It will also be interesting to see if Smith, Ponting and Kevin Pietersen will be able to combine their diaries and appear together in a Twenty20 game.

And as I’m not being cynical, I will obviously make no snide comment about having three overseas players...