Cricket

Warwickshire bring in Chris Benjamin as wicketkeeper back-up

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South Africa-born 22-year-old to act as cover for Michael Burgess

Warwickshire have signed Chris Benjamin on a Rookie contract until the end of the season.

Benjamin, a 22-year-old keeper-batter, has impressed on trial in the 2nd XI and captained the side to victory in the 2nd XI Twenty20 Trophy. He made 149 from just 66 balls against Glamorgan and claimed five catches in the semi-final against Middlesex.

South Africa-born, he played two first-class matches for Durham MCCU in 2019.

While Michael Burgess, who has just signed a two-year contract extension which will keep him at Edgbaston until at least the end of 2023, is established as the first-team keeper in all formats, Warwickshire have previously not had another regular keeper in the squad. Vikai Kelley, an 18-year-old who kept in one T20 game in 2020, remains a long-term prospect, but the club were keen to have a readymade option should Burgess suffer injury.

Benjamin also has the advantage of being an option as a specialist batter.

“Chris is a hard-hitting, right-handed batsman capable of providing real power at the top of the order,” Ian Westwood, the Warwickshire 2nd XI coach, said. “He captained the Second XI to the T20 trophy last week and, with Vikai Kelley injured, kept wicket in the last few games of the competition. We will be working hard with him on his keeping in the months ahead.

“He has spent a lot of time with us this season and has shown the qualities we look for on and off the field. He has fitted in really well and fully deserves his Rookie contract. He will be with us for the rest of the year so has a chance to push for a longer-term deal.”

There was a first view of Che Simmons for many Warwickshire supporters on Wednesday night, too. Simmons, a 17-year-old Barbados-born fast bowler with a UK passport, acted as 12th man at Edgbaston as Birmingham pulled off a 10-wicket victory over Yorkshire.
Although Simmons is expected to return to Barbados in the coming days, Warwickshire hope he will be back in a few months having made a positive impression on trial. While it is understood that CWI has not given up on plans to keep him, he is expected to complete his education in Birmingham and looks to have many of the qualities to develop into a professional cricketer.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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