Melton to leave Derbyshire amid Zimbabwe links

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Dustin Melton

Zimbabwe-born pace bowler Dustin Melton will leave English country cricket side Derbyshire at the end of the 2022 season.

Derbyshire’s head of cricket Mickey Arthur has confirmed that the 27-year-old will not be offered a new contract but remains available for selection this summer.

Zimbabwe-born Melton has taken 27 wickets in all formats, but has not played a first-team game this season.

“He is currently not eligible as an English-qualified player, so he’s on our books as overseas,” said Arthur.

“But with Suranga Lakmal and Shan Masood signed, we were always like to go with their experience.”

He added: “During the close season, we will be looking for experienced options to improve our seam bowling department to make it stronger and with Dustin not part of those plans, it’s only right to allow him to look to pursue his career elsewhere.”

His departure from Derbyshire and the recent appointment of his former coach Dave Houghton as Zimbabwe coach has fueled speculation that he could consider an international cricket career with his country of birth.

Melton was born in Zimbabwe but moved from his native Zimbabwe to South Africa at the age of three, having been offered for adoption.

He earned a bursary to enroll on the TuksSport cricket programme at the University of Pretoria and in 2015 he represented the team at the prestigious Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals held in India.

The team led by Aiden Markram and including Lungi Ngidi retained their title, beating a Loughborough University side including Warwickshire’s Michael Burgess in the final. Melton took six wickets in five games and picked up 2 for 25 in that final.

Melton, who remains available for selection at Derbyshire until his departure, took the long road into the professional game.

With the help of a family friend, footage of what perhaps remains Melton’s finest performance in England made it into Houghton’s hands, who in 2018 returned to Derbyshire as head of cricket.

It was enough to earn him a succesful trial at Derbyshire for the 2019 season.

Melton made his first-class debut for Derbyshire against Australia in 2019 and achieved his best first-class figures of 4-22 in a nine-wicket Bob Willis Trophy win over Leicestershire the following year.

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