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February, only for the Pistons to void the deal and s | Forum

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LAM Sep 12
Earlier this season I was at Trent Bridge when the ample frame of Rory Kleinveldt sidled to the crease with his side 206 for 5 in response to Notts 445 in 50 overs of freewheeling, record-breaking carnage. Eric Hosmer Padres Jersey .The deep-blue afternoon sky had receded behind the floodlights, and with the sun firmly past the yardarm, a raucous crowd grew giddily sozzled at the home teams Test-ground, East Midlands superiority. And then Kleinveldt - which in Afrikaans means small field - started to plonk the ball into the stands with brutal power and regularity.At one stage, a Johannesburg looked decidedly on, but alas Kleinveldt, batting with a runner, ran out of steam, having bludgeoned - there is no other word for it - 128 from 63 balls with nine sixes, and Northants finished 425 all out with ten balls remaining, having smitten 17 maximums in their innings.Given that a teams capacity to clear the ropes strongly predicts their prospects in T20 - this, more than exposure to international T20 leagues, is the cornerstone of West Indies success - it should perhaps have come as scant surprise that Northants won this years T20 Blast, having reached the final last year and having won it in 2013.They give it a spank. If you add the three T20 successes of Leicestershire, then the two counties considered the most vulnerable to the periodically mooted reduction in first-class clubs have bagged it five of 14 times, heartening for those who like to see romance trump finance.As a Staffordshire lad, I always had a soft spot for Northamptonshire, who had availed themselves of a steady stream of players from the Potteries - under Mike Turners astutely thrifty chairmanship in the seventies they also mined another Minor County, pre-first-class Durham - including stalwarts from Brian Crump to Jason Brown, as well as four England players: David Steele, Rob Bailey, Paul Taylor and Jeremy Snape. Taylor had been signed on the back of a NatWest Trophy first-round match in which his 12 wicketless overs had disappeared for 92 runs. Sometimes you have to see through the numbers, and Taylor ended up taking over 500 first-class wickets for the Cobblers.In fact, Staffordshire played Northants in back-to-back seasons, both times receiving a thorough shellacking (the pitilessness of which might be explained by Northants having been turned over by Staffordshires neighbours, Cheshire, in 1988, the year after they had been to both Lords finals). Jon Addison, who joined my club as pro in 1994, used to tell a story of one of those games, when he was due in at No. 3 as Staffs attempted to chase down Northants mammoth 360 for 2 off 60 overs.On a chilly day, Curtly Ambrose ambled in for the first ball, which came down at charity game pace. Next ball, Staffs schoolteacher opener Steve Dean gave him the charge, flat-batting a four over extra cover. Cue double teapot, long stare, and the removal of several jumpers. The third ball scorched through. Another was top-edged over the keepers head. Eventually, Dean gloved a catch to slip, and as Addo entered he muttered, Thanks a f***** lot, Deany.Not long after, having himself been dismissed, Addo asked why Dean had run at the worlds premier fast bowler. Well, Dean replied, I figured I was only going to play against him once, so I wanted to see what it was like when he was bowling properly.Northants themselves started life as a Minor County, winning two championships and sharing two more across ten seasons before accession to the County Championship in 1905, a competition they - along with Somerset and Gloucestershire - are yet to win. Given the way English domestic four-day cricket has settled into a semi-stable hierarchy, with counties based at Test venues at the top, and given these clubs seductive pull for the most talented and ambitious red-ball players in Division Two, it is hard to imagine Northants ever winning it. So clearly a judicious move to focus on the white-ball game. And in that they are no minnows at all. Indeed, in the 20 years between September 1, 1976 and August 31, 1996, no team reached more Lords finals than Northamptonshire. They made the short journey down the M1 a total of ten times: a quarter of all finals. Only Lancashire, with nine, made more than seven trips to Lords over that period; Yorkshire, who beat Northants in a 1987 thriller on fewer wickets lost, made just one. Another game was lost with scores level - to Derbyshire in 1981, which finished with Geoff Miller (who could well have been Mankaded in another era) diving face first at the stumps - while three were won: against Lancashire in 76, with Bishan Bedi, Mushtaq Mohammad and Sarfraz Nawaz in the team, Essex in 1980, and Leicestershire in 92.Seeing Allan Lamb, squat and powerful, scuttling out through the famous old gate unfailingly sent a crackle of anticipation around Lords. There was Wayne Larkins, too, a maverick who could, when the mood took him, destroy the very best bowling - and there was a lot of that about in the late 1980s. The cast also included internationals in Peter Willey, Geoff Cook, Nick Cook, Neil Mallender, David Capel and Kevin Curran; the overseas players, Eldine Baptiste, Winston Davis and Roger Harper; and lower-key key contributors in Tony Penberthy, Alan Walker, Alan Fordham, Richard Williams and current coach David Ripley.In the aftermath of the recent success, Northants skipper Alex Wakeley spoke eloquently about how the countys constraints had actually benefited them. The skeleton staff meant there was little anxiety over being dropped, which in turn bred adventurous cricket, while the budgetary restrictions (Nick Hoult reported for the Telegraph that the chairman was declining lunch on match days to save £25, while caterers were helping ground staff with covers, and players reporting in for half-day training on a PCA day had to buy sandwiches from the petrol station over the road) have also helped cultivate a Dunkirk spirit.Its perhaps little surprise that Steele, a man not predominantly famous for his fiscal extravagance, was so well loved at Wantage Road. I interviewed Steeley a couple of years back, just prior to the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, and not too far into our chat, his eye well in, he enquired what I was going to do for him. Quid pro quo, he said, in a sort of slow, low, velvety growl. Answering his own question, he suggested I send him a case of wine, doubtless assuming things were as they had been in his 1970s heyday, when journalists from the nationals may well have had an expense account to attend to such niceties. Im freelance, I told him plaintively, and that would seriously eat into my fee. Perhaps through partial deafness, perhaps through plain doggedness, he failed to pick up the implications, so I caved in and asked what his tipple was. Before I could run through a few grape varieties, he flashed back with trademark assurance: White. Dry? Sweet…? Any type of white, he affirmed, as though my question were unnecessarily fancy.As for Steeley, so for the Steelbacks: they, too, seem to prefer white to red these days. Dave Winfield Padres Jersey . -- Al Jefferson found a groove just in time for the Charlotte Bobcats. Manuel Margot Padres Jersey . -- Charline Labonte couldnt have asked for a better homecoming. http://www.padressale.com/padres-manny-machado-jersey/ . On Saturday night, the normally free throw-challenged centre did just that. Howard scored 18 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including 13 of 19 free throws in a 2 1/2-minute stretch, and the Houston Rockets beat the Denver Nuggets 122-111. The Brooklyn Nets have signed restricted free-agent forward Donatas Motiejunas, as expected, to a four-year offer sheet potentially worth as much as $37 million, according to league sources.But sources told ESPN.com on Friday night that the uniquely structured deal is fully guaranteed for only $5 million of that total and rising to $17.5 million if Motiejunas has earned his 2017-18 option by March 1, terms that could well encourage the Houston Rockets to match the Brooklyn offer sheet.The Rockets will have a 72-hour window, ending at Monday at 11:59 p.m., to decide whether to match the offer or let Motiejunas join the Nets.?I have to talk to the owner before we make a decision, Houston general manager Daryl Morey said Friday night. Theres been a lot of restricted free agents that went late into the season, several into December. Its a process thats part of how things work. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but were happy its going to come to a resolution.The Nets have been weighing the move internally for some time and, according to sources, are comfortable with where Motiejunas is medically, after back issues scuttled the Rockets trade of ?him to the?Detroit Pistons?in February.That history of back trouble, however, led the Nets to structure Motiejunas contract with a number of protections against long-term risk. Sources say he will earn $5 million immediately just by signing the contract, but the team that has him on its roster as of Tuesday must decide by Jan. 10 whether to guarantee an additional $3.5 million for this season or let him go at that point. By March 1, sources said, Motiejunas full $9 million option for the 2017-18 must then be picked up or declined.Im happy, Motiejunas, a 26-year-old native of Lithuania, told ESPNs Calvin Watkins on Friday. Its [been] way too long, I waited so long; I just wanted to play basketball.Even better, it showed they believed in me, Motiejunas said of the Nets. They put me through a number of tests [on his back], and they saw that Im as healthy as anybody else. After Detroit, everybody was questioning me. They showed a commitment that Im going to be a piece of their future; if not, Ill be happy with Houston, too.After signing the offer sheet, Motiejunas flew to Houston, where he will await the Rockets decision on whether to match it. Although the final two seasons of the contract are non-guarantteed, Motiejunas ?can clinch the total of nearly $18 million in guaranteed money if he plays into March with no health issues. Fernando Tatis Jr. Jersey. ?Houston pulled its most recent offer to Motiejunas on Nov. 22, when the sides couldnt come to terms on a deal before the Rockets self-imposed Nov. 22 deadline.?Nov. 23 was the last day that players could be signed this season and remain eligible to be dealt on the leagues annual trade-deadline day, which falls on Feb. 23. ESPN reported in early November that the Rockets, as a result, picked that date as their own internal deadline to sign Motiejunas, fearing his value would decrease if they didnt have the ability to trade him.The Nets, sources said, specifically waited until this week to sign Motiejunas, in part because they hope Houston will be less inclined to match an offer for him now. The Rockets will be unable to trade Motiejunas for a year without his consent if they elect to match the offer.The Nets had more than $18 million in available salary-cap ?space to assemble an offer Houston might find unpalatable. New Nets general manager Sean Marks, though, was foiled twice in restricted free agency over the summer, seeing hefty offer sheets to Miamis Tyler Johnson (four years, $50 million) and Portlands Allen Crabbe (four years, $75 million) matched by those teams.Sources told Stein on Nov. 4 that the Rockets were offering a two-year deal starting in the $7 million range but with only the first season fully guaranteed for the 7-foot, 223-pound Motiejunas.ESPN reported last week that Motiejunas was surprised and upset that negotiations with the Rockets had dragged on so long. Motiejunas could have made himself an unrestricted free agent next summer had he been willing to play out this season on Houstons $4.4 million qualifying offer, but he let the qualifier expire Oct. 1, hopeful that a long-term deal would materialize.The Rockets have been unwilling to guarantee more than the first year of a multiyear deal in a nod to Motiejunas injury history. Houston traded him to Detroit in February, only for the Pistons to void the deal and send him back to the Rockets because of a failed physical stemming from Motiejunas back troubles.ESPNs Calvin Watkins contributed to this report. ' ' ' 
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