Transfers bittersweet for Smith
Lancashire have gained a former England seamer this winter and let another go, causing mixed emotions for Tom Smith.
Kabir Ali joined on a two-year deal while Sajid Mahmood, a close friend of Smith, was released and signed for Essex. Other business by the 2011 County Champions includes Simon Katich’s arrival as an overseas player and Gary Keedy moving to Surrey.
Kabir, who played one Test and 14-one-day internationals from 2003 to 2006, ended the domestic summer by defending seven from the last over of the Clydesdale Bank 40 final to seal a cup double for Hampshire.
With 483 first-class wickets at an average of 27.35, the 32-year-old - who began his senior career at Worcestershire - has plenty to offer a side seeking an immediate return to Division One of the LV= County Championship.
“He’s got an unbelievable background,” Smith told ecb.co.uk. “His stats stack up against the best and to have that experience coming in, he’s played a lot of high-profile games for Hampshire and done well.
“In his last over this season he won them the CB40 so to have someone come into our team with that experience, that talent, it can only benefit us.”
Mahmood’s departure was hard for Smith, who had been a team-mate since his first-class debut in 2005.
That was a year after Mahmood, 31, won the first of his 26 ODI, eight Test and four Twenty20 international caps - the last of which came in 2009.
“Saj had been at the club 10 years and it was sad to see him go,” Smith admitted. “He’s had a lot of great seasons at Lancashire and he’s a really good mate of mine.
“It was definitely sad to see him go. He’s an extremely talented cricketer so I’m sure he’ll really get the bit between his teeth and get on and do well.”
Like Smith, 27, captain Glen Chapple remains as one-club man and will lead Lancashire for a fifth straight season.
Chapple, a seam-bowling all-rounder who turns 39 in under a fortnight, has had to make do with a solitary ODI cap in 2006 and is considered unlucky by many not to have played more for his country.
“He’s one of those captains that leads from the front, you know, he’s been our best bowler now for a number of years,” said Smith, who has represented England in the Hong Kong Sixes but not played at senior international level.
“He puts a lot of responsibility on you to make your decisions bowling-wise which I think is very good. When he feels like something needs changing he’s very welcome to do that and he’s someone you really want to do well for.”