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South African all-rounder Wayne Parnell has signed with English county side Kent on a short-term deal and is likely to make his debut in the Division 2 County Championship match against Sussex beginning on Friday, April 14.
With the Proteas’ next international fixture set to be the first of three ODIs against England in Headingley, the stint is expected to be an ideal preparation for the 27-year-old who will be joining up with the English county for his third spell in England.
Despite thrashing Gloucestershire by 334 runs in their opening Championship match of the season, Kent are expected to make room for Parnell in their playing eleven against Sussex.
“I learned a lot from the experience and I hope to help the side continue their strong start in the County Championship and get off to a flyer in the One Day Cup,” Parnell said, expressing his delight at the move. “I look forward to working with Matt Walker, Jason Gillespie, and the boys.”
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Parnell picked up 26 wickets and scored two half-centuries over two spells with Kent in 2009 when he helped the side clinch the Division Two County Championship title as well as a place in the semi-finals of what was to be the final edition of the Twenty20 Cup before the tournament was replaced by the Friends Provident T20 and later, the Natwest T20 Blast.
Having impressed with his performances during an initial six-week spell, Kent decided to re-sign Parnell for a further five weeks and the then 20-year-old played a key role in Kent’s quarter-final victory over Durham picking up two crucial wickets.
He was granted special permission by Cricket South Africa based on Kent's request for the T20 semi-final clash against Somerset but was unable to help his side overcome Somerset.
Despite featuring in five editions of the Indian Premier League, Parnell, who had a base price of Rs 50 lakh, was unsold at the 2017 auctions with the franchises opting to look elsewhere for all-round talent. With South Africa’s next international fixture more than a month away, the move to sign with Kent is one which will serve both parties really well.
The captain of the South African U-19 side that played the 2008 ICC U-19 World Cup as well as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, the year 2009 proved to be a turning point for Parnell as his impressive performances for Kent helped him clinch a place in the national squad for the 2009 T20 World Cup.
He had an excellent tournament picking up nine wickets at an economy rate of less than six and went on to be the leading wicket-taker at the 2009 Champions Trophy as well. Parnell will be hoping for a similar kind of success this time around as well and is expected to feature in at least two County Championship matches as well as the group stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup which begins on April 27.
With South Africa set for an extended stay in England with the Champions Trophy being scheduled in between the ODI and T20 & Test legs of the tour against England, Parnell will be eagerly looking forward to acclimatising to the conditions with his spell at Kent.
With the likes of Kyle Abbott and David Wiese opting for Kolpak deals with Hampshire and Sussex respectively, Parnell has managed to cement his spot in the South African squad across all three formats for the time being.
Having been overlooked for the IPL, he will be looking to make amends in familiar territory with Kent and retain his focus for the Champions Trophy in South Africa’s quest for their first major ICC trophy.