IT has delighted me to see Notts have signed South African batsman Hashim Amla to cover for David Hussey as overseas player in the early weeks of 2010.
He is a very fine player who scores big runs and I believe it is a real coup.
What marks him out is his ability to be patient and wait for the right time to score runs.
He will be important for us in four-day cricket, but he has also shown he can contribute in one-day cricket as well.
It is important to get the County Championship season off to a good start and, hopefully, Hashim can help us do that.
This is an important year for Notts because we have finished second in the last two years, but not quite been able to challenge Durham.
We are determined to make this our year, but at the same time we know Division One is getting tougher and tougher.
With that in mind, you need to have an overseas player for the whole of the season, which wasn’t the case last year.
Other teams take advantage of it and we have to as well. The overseas stars bring a high level of performance and set the bar for the home-grown players.
I FIRST came to Bangladesh about nine years ago with the MCC when Bangladesh wanted to get one-day status – and it has changed so much since then.
I would describe it now as being like London on steroids, such is the hustle and bustle of the place.
The roads are absolutely crazy and absolutely heaving with traffic.
For our first game of the tour on Tuesday, a journey that would normally take 25 minutes took an hour and 20 minutes.
It meant we had to be up at 6am for a 10am start and ensured a long day.
But when you go on a tour like this, it really does bring it home to you how other countries live.
There were hundreds of people already lining the streets and on their way to work in the rice fields through the morning smog at 6.30am.
Paul Collingwood has brought himself a video camera to film what it is like so he can convince people back home.
I don’t think they would believe him otherwise, because it is a totally different world.
I suppose it makes us feel quite selfish as cricketers because we live a very privileged life and maybe don’t always appreciate what we have got.
There is a lot of poverty out here and it sums it up when the DVDs we were buying to watch in between matches were costing 30p a time.
It is things like that which make you appreciate the little things in life. Sometimes you can get stressed out for no reason in England and it’s rendered pretty irrelevant when you’re out here.
On the way back to the hotel we saw children as young as three or four at the side of the road begging for food and trying to sell you things.
It makes you think it could be your son or daughter who has no choice but to do that.
It certainly puts a lot of things in perspective if you are injured or just having a tough time on tour. It makes those complaints seem pretty meaningless.
But it is also fantastic to see other cultures and the way people live – Bangladesh is a whole lot different to the splendour of Dubai, where we were last week.
Everyone has been very friendly since we landed here late on Sunday – even though we looked like zombies when we arrived!
The lads were all still up at 12.30pm on Monday night because their body clocks were telling them they should be.
A few of us were phoning around and we were all the same. You just have to get used to it as quickly as you can.
WITH the ICC World Twenty20 on the horizon in the Caribbean, I was happy with my performance for England against Pakistan out in Dubai.
The ball has been coming out of the hand really well and I showed that I can play a part in a successful England Twenty20 team.
I was pleased with figures of 0-21 from four overs and, over the two games, we proved we have got the makings of a very good side, which can be there or thereabouts in May.
I think in that tournament we are well capable of surprising a few people.
But for a brilliant innings from Abdul Razzaq, which he has been doing on the international stage for about 10 years now, we could have won both matches against Pakistan.
But that happens in Twenty20 cricket, that’s the way it goes. Someone can hit quick runs and it takes the game away from you.
I’m a bit older and wiser now, so I know the skills I need to use to succeed at Twenty20.
It is not an easy game to master and I think I’m still learning things now, especially where to put the field at certain times.
I like to bowl at the death in games, even though that is when you are most under pressure.
Sometimes it can go your way and other times you can take a bit of a hammering from the batsman.
But I would rather put myself in the firing line than be out fielding at fine leg.
CRAIG Kieswetter can be a very important player in England’s future because he could give us something at the top of the order that maybe we have been missing.
Anyone who doubts that he’s a good player only needs to see the innings he played against the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Tuesday when he scored 143 from 123 balls (13 fours, six sixes).
He proved he is a very accomplished player and showed why he has been scoring plenty of runs for Somerset in the County Championship.
The way Craig plays is, I think, something England have been missing since Marcus Trescothick retired from the international scene.
He is someone who can come in and hit quick runs from the off – a 40 off 15 or 20 balls.
That can really get the team motoring and allow those players who are coming in below to build innings around that start and enable the team to put together a really big score.
I know from personal experience that it makes it very hard for the bowlers when someone comes at you with that attacking mindset.
Some people do not like the fact Craig was born and brought up in South Africa, yet has been chosen to play for England.
But he has done his qualifying period and been chosen, so we have welcomed him into the fold.
I’m a traditionalist, so I would much prefer for young English-born guys to be coming through and knocking on the door.
But there isn’t at the moment and we have to choose the best we have available.
Hopefully that is something that is going to change over the next few years. I know counties are working hard to bring through the young players, especially at Notts.
It would be great to see some of those in the national team in the not-too-distant future.
I THINK the lads are a lot happier with the food here in Bangladesh than on the recent tour of South Africa – mainly because we get to have a curry every night.
All the players seem to love it and even though we all probably want to shed a bit of weight, it means we will probably end up putting some on!
It’s a good job we’ve got plenty of cricket to keep us in decent trim because there’s a lot of calories being consumed.
I will certainly want to be for the first event of my benefit on April 1.
My black tie opening dinner takes place at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, with Michael Vaughan OBE and Kevin Connelly as special guests, an event I’m eagerly awaiting.
To join Ryan for his opening benefit dinner alongside the England and Nottinghamshire cricket stars call 07912899229 or go to www.ryansidebottom.com