Adam Milne has only recently returned to action after almost a year out © IDI/Getty Images
New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne is in discussions to play in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast as an overseas player. Milne’s agent has confirmed that, while a number of clubs were interested in signing the 24-year-old, he has only entered into talks with two, one of which ESPNcricinfo understands is Kent.
The signing of Milne would be a boost for Kent, who have struggled to get new recruits through the door at Canterbury. Visa issues have so far prevented Allan Donald from taking his position as assistant coach, though Jason Gillespie provides more than adequate cover as Donald sorts the relevant qualification.
Kent were understood to be close to acquiring South Africa pace bowler Duanne Olivier as an overseas player for the first three months of the season. However, just as the club were preparing to announce his signing, Cricket South Africa intervened at the 11th hour to block the move, on the ground of managing Olivier’s workload ahead of the Champions Trophy. Further misfortune arose when two other potential signings on their shortlist went down with injuries.
Milne has now emerged as an alternative. One of the quickest bowlers in the world – he has been clocked above 95mph – he is also a fine death bowler, with a record of 21 wickets at an average of 21.80, and an economy rate of 7.36, in T20 internationals. He also offers excellent fielding and runs lower down the order.
As ever with Milne, there will be questions over his fitness. This year’s NatWest T20 Blast takes place in a block, with each team playing 14 matches in a six-week period between July 7 and August 18. While a condensed schedule has made it easier for counties to obtain players of Milne’s profile, they will also have to consider managing the workload of a player with Milne’s injury record.
He has not played for New Zealand since the World T20 and, while playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore at the IPL last April, he suffered a hamstring tear – the first of three issues that meant he did not play again in 2016. Elbow surgery in the summer saw him unable to fulfill a seven-match commitment for Essex in the Blast.
He sat out an ODI series in India to regain his fitness but picked up a side strain in the nets at the end of 2016, meaning he had to bide his time until March for a competitive comeback. Both New Zealand and his suitors will be encouraged that he has emerged unscathed from three Plunket Shield matches for Central Districts in the last four weeks.
Milne is set to travel to India in the hope of completing his first full IPL with RCB (he missed the 2015 season with a heel injury) and is expected to make New Zealand’s squad for the Champions Trophy in England, which starts in June.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo