County Stats (19/20 season)
It says pretty much everything about the impact Keshav Maharaj made at Yorkshire in 2019 that the club’s hierarchy were very keen to re-sign him for only two Specsavers County Championship games at the start of 2020.
It was made clear early on that the South African left-arm spinner’s availability would be limited due to him getting married, but the likes of Andrew Gale and Martyn Moxon still wanted to keep him involved at Emerald Headingley. A short-term signing with a long-term view, you might say.
Maharaj’s figures in 2019; 38 wickets in only five Championship appearances plus two fifties between June and September. He claimed two five-wicket hauls, a six-for and a seven-for.
A Durban-born left-arm spinner with 30 Test caps to his name, Maharaj has taken 110 wickets with a best of 9-129 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2018.
Maharaj made his first-class debut in November 2006 and broke into the Test Match arena 10 years, to the week, later.
A clever bowler who harnesses control and potency, he has taken nearly 500 first-class wickets and has scored nearly 3,500 runs with his swashbuckling style of lower order batting.
With ball or bat in hand, he is fun to watch.
Maharaj has previous county experience. But whisper it quietly – for Lancashire!
Late in 2018, he was drafted into Emirates Old Trafford for a similarly short-term deal to try and help the Red Rose county preserve their Division One status. Maharaj took a superb 17 wickets in three games, but Lancashire still went down. Job done, hey!
The now 30-year-old took 11 wickets in a tie against Somerset at Taunton, including a second-innings 7-37, and claimed three wickets in defeat against Yorkshire at Emerald Headingley.
He became the fourth overseas signing to play for both Roses rivals, three of them having ‘completed the set’ in 2019. Australians Simon Katich, Glenn Maxwell and Jake Lehmann are the others.
He had previously played league cricket in both Sussex and Lancashire as an emerging player.
Maharaj plays his domestic cricket in South Africa for the Dolphins franchise and debuted for the Proteas in a Test against Australia in Perth in November 2016.
He is a former Test team-mate of Duanne Olivier’s.
Maharaj has played four one-day internationals in 2017 and 2018, but he is currently out of that reckoning.
In first-class cricket, he has taken 27 hauls of five wickets or more, including 10 wickets or more in a match on six occasions.
For Yorkshire in 2019, Maharaj claimed 10 wickets in the match on both occasions against Somerset, including an innings best of 7-52 in the home win at Headingley in July. He then claimed five in each innings in a defeat at Taunton in September.
In three career Championship matches against Somerset for both Yorkshire and Lancashire, he has taken a staggering 31 wickets.
It is just a shame they are one of Yorkshire’s two opponents to begin 2020, although champions Essex are at Chelmsford, a venue notorious for suiting spinners. That is another reason why he is returning to White Rose colours only briefly.
Prior to rejoining the club, he played in the winter Test series at home against England either side of Christmas, claiming 10 wickets in three appearances, including five wickets in the first innings of a defeat at Port Elizabeth. Later in the same match, he smashed an entertaining 71 down the order to delay England’s pursuit of victory.
Maharaj will be replaced by Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin later in 2020.