Keshav Maharaj hopes to help keep Lancashire in division one of county cricket. Photo: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

DURBAN - Keshav Maharaj is in Manchester and, much like the football team that also calls Old Trafford home, the cricketers at Lancashire have their backs to the wall.

Maharaj has signed a short-term deal with the prestigious county side, but the priority over the next few weeks is to keep them in the top division. “We are bottom of the table, and if we can win the next two games, it will be crucial,” the Proteas left-armer explained.

The difference between division one and two is huge, and Lancashire are banking on the consistency of the left-arm spinner to help them navigate through some very tricky waters. Maharaj has established himself as South Africa’s premier spinner, and his burgeoning reputation as a team man and a performer under pressure.

“My job is to try and contribute in any way that I can, and try and save the team from relegation. If we can manage to do that, then it will be a very good month,” Maharaj said. The deal to get him over to the north-west of England was done while he was in Sri Lanka for the recent Proteas tour.

“It’s really exciting. It was during the second Test in Colombo that the deal was finally confirmed, and it is something that I have always wanted to do. I am grateful to the county for giving me the opportunity, and I can’t wait to play my first game. I have a lot to learn still, and I feel that my career can only grow through learning. Playing different conditions, that is all part of my development as a player,” Maharaj explained.

Already, he has had his first training session - and an early taste of the unique weather in that part of the world. Even in the midst of one of the hottest English summers, the north-west can still see temperatures dip rapidly.

“I had my first training session (on Tuesday), and it was very cold,” Maharaj said. “Coming from the sub-continent, and then Durban, it was a very different feeling! But I managed to get through it,” he commented. Over the next few weeks, Lancashire will be hoping that Maharaj can prove to be their “Special One”.

The Mercury

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