County news

Yorkshire drop Shahzad bombshell

David Hopps

May 1, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Yorkshire have made a shock announcement that Ajmal Shahzad can leave the county - only a week after their new coach, Jason Gillespie, praised him as "a fantastic bowler".

Yorkshire refused to explain the reasons for Shahzad's abrupt request to leave but it seems inevitable that the club has become embroiled in the sort of stand-off with a disaffected player in which it has specialised throughout its history.

Shahzad, who eight years ago became the first Yorkshire-born cricketer of Pakistani background to represent the county, has been periodically unsettled at Yorkshire, but the arrival of Gillespie had filled him with fresh resolve and optimism at the start of the season.

Instead, Yorkshire have now announced: "Following discussions between YCCC and Ajmal Shahzad, it has been jointly agreed that in the best interests of his development, Ajmal will be given the option to play for another club either under a new contract or on loan for the rest of the season, in order to establish himself with a new county."

Somerset, who are in the market for a fast bowler on loan, are bound to be among the major suitors for a player whose 2011 season was wrecked by ankle trouble but who, at his best, remains on the fringe of the England set-up. Middlesex's director of cricket, Angus Fraser, has also shown interest in the past. Essex, not slow to recognise the attraction of rejected or disillusioned Yorkies, will also take an interest.

There was no comment from Gillespie, who had watched Shahzad bowl in Yorkshire's last home match against Essex and purred: "That was Test match bowling. He had a troubled season last year, but we don't worry about last year. Ajmal has got himself in as good a condition as he's ever been in his first-class career. He's worked incredibly hard, and I think he's a fantastic bowler, a very exciting bowler."

Instead, it was left to Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket, and Colin Graves, the chairman, to issue anodyne statements that gave little indication of the reasons behind the impending split.

Moxon said: "There has been a lot of discussion over a period of time with Ajmal regarding his cricket and it has been agreed by the club and the player that it is in the player's best interests that he pursues his career elsewhere. I would like to wish Ajmal every success in the future."

Graves added: "I am disappointed that Ajmal will be leaving as he is one of the bright prospects of England's fast bowlers. We wish Ajmal all the very best in the future and thank him for his contribution to Yorkshire cricket over the years.''

Shahzad has had emotional highs and lows throughout his career. He is an outgoing personality and his mood swings have been heightened by the fact that he has not taken his falling out of favour with England easily. There were times last season, notably on an away trip to the Netherlands, when Yorkshire were privately critical of what they perceived as unruly behaviour.

He has issues of his own. He regards himself as a genuine allrounder yet bats low in the order for Yorkshire and lost the new ball to Tim Bresnan, who was making a rare return from England duties, against Kent at Canterbury last week, and can expect to concede it once again when the Australia international Mitchell Starc arrives.

He was also a player that Graves had in mind when he responded to Yorkshire's relegation last season by terming some performances as "a disgrace." Shahzad, who had bowled much of thre season with ankle trouble, and who neded an operation in the close season, felt the criticism was unwarranted.

All this will have been discussed when Shahzad held emergency talks with Graves and Yorkshire's coaching staff on Tuesday morning. Quite what occured for Yorkshire to allow him to leave now rather than simply rely on time to improve his mood is not entirely known. The conclusion seems to have been that his dissatisfaction has become disruptive and is unlikely to be easily reversed. It is a very Yorkshire response - perhaps on all sides - to be so implacable with the season still in its infancy.

Shahzad, at 26, will be an attractive proposition. He has played one Test match for England, taking four wickets against Bangladesh at Old Trafford in June 2010. He has also played 11 ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (May 2, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

Lancs already have a raft of yorkies in their ranks. Will they add another?

Posted by   on (May 2, 2012, 14:59 GMT)

Should be an exemplary move for others.dont take your place for granted and perform to justify your place in the team,be it the national team or a county side.

Posted by Saby786 on (May 2, 2012, 14:28 GMT)

A big loss no doubt but we dont the the reasons to why this has happend all i can say is he is a good cricketr and a very good human being and i am sure he has got a big future in cricket and more than likley another county will snap his services very quickly, good luck Ajmal we are behind you all the way.

Posted by MAK123 on (May 2, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

All I know is that the English people are fair in their dealings. I am sure there must have been something that neither Ajmal nor the county could come to terms with and therefore the split.

Posted by A_Yorkshire_Lad on (May 2, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

@ Meety - do you know something we dont ?

Posted by StoneRose on (May 2, 2012, 8:52 GMT)

I would have thought finance could have been a - or the - major issue. Could Yorks want him off their wage bill?

Posted by SirWilliam on (May 2, 2012, 8:37 GMT)

I'm surprised that there hasn't been a call for Tendulkar to come back and take the new ball.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (May 2, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

Somerset please sign him NOW!

Posted by yorkslanka on (May 2, 2012, 6:10 GMT)

amazing ! given how we are struggling to get a result in division 2, it is doesnt fit that we would weaken our resources in the bowling department..not sure what has gone on but it seems like gillespie is keen to put his stamp on the county-no matter how it affects us..poor decision for me...

Posted by DaveMorton on (May 2, 2012, 1:40 GMT)

"Shahzad isn't in Bresnan's league," writes WillPash, but I think most Yorkshire fans were surprised when England opted for Brezzy rather than the Shazzler. In the end, Tim exceeded expectations at the MCG and has gone on to do well. He is certainly a more level character than Ajmal, and a better batsman and fielder. At Canterbury, on his return, he didn't look as good a bowler - no better than Patterson, for example. In truth, all these guys are good bowlers. But bowlers are people and need managing, and YCCC is rubbish at that. We have lost a terrific cricketer.

Posted by Meety on (May 1, 2012, 23:58 GMT)

Dizzy gives the kiss of deat!

Posted by WillPash on (May 1, 2012, 21:17 GMT)

@StaalBurgher, you have to understand this is the County Championship. An English domestic competition which is there for local talent. All this Aussie/Saffer player loving over local talent is the reason why local fans do not have any affinity for their local county like there was in the past. Shahzad isn't in Bresnan's league, but he is the best of the rest of Yorks talent. When Jason Gillespie was praising him only a few days ago, something must have happened in the changing room since for this drastic action. If he was a disruptive influence, they would have sacked him during close season. Stark isn't guaranteed to be a hit at Yorks in these conditions; At least Shahzad has proven to be a capable bowler for Yorks. In CC2 they need all the help they can get. Yorkshire CCC infighting; nothing new there, look at their history...

Posted by   on (May 1, 2012, 21:06 GMT)

I just want to know which one of the three in the freeze-frame was Hoppsy. Boy, you've changed since our tour of Zim...

Posted by Moutarde on (May 1, 2012, 20:56 GMT)

Funny that so many people are immediately blaming Yorkshire. Seems more likely that the player's brought this upon himself.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 1, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

He was a decent bowler a few years ago but heard he struggled last year. Don't know whether he was a problem at Yorks or it's just a breakdown in communications. If he is half decent still I agree with Somerset fans. Richard Johnson and Neil Mallender had good 2nd careers at Taunton , maybe it can happen again.

Posted by   on (May 1, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

Didn't see that coming! Yorkshire's loss is another Counties gain.

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (May 1, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

Very strange. Yorkshire, not least their bowlers, haven't had a great start to the season, so I don't know what has happened to make them decide to weaken their bowling resources. However, perhaps it's not quite fair to compare this to the Yorkshire in-fighting of the 1970s; these days players and counties part company much more often

Posted by delboy on (May 1, 2012, 19:48 GMT)

I wonder if it was feared Shazad was leading a dressing urdu room takeover. He seem to have a native Yorkshireman accent in interviews.

Posted by UriGagarin on (May 1, 2012, 19:48 GMT)

well what do you expect when there is more than 1 yorkshireman in the room ? Typical Yorkshire, typical response. That's what makes them the best team to follow :p

Posted by   on (May 1, 2012, 19:45 GMT)

lunacy, sacking quality like shazad whilst persevering with club standard medium pacers like pyrah and patterson.

Posted by StaalBurgher on (May 1, 2012, 19:45 GMT)

A 1st class average of 33 and a strike rate of 58 is considered good?

@WillPash: Mitchell Starc has the exact same record 33 average and 58 strike rate. So how is Starc trash but Shahzad brilliant? There have been talk of his disruptive influence for a while. No reason a team needs an entitled player.

This is what I love about cricket. There are stats available to that you can call people up on their stupid comments without relying on subjective analysis as in rugby.

Posted by DaveMorton on (May 1, 2012, 18:35 GMT)

I am appalled. You never know what goes on behing the scenes, but Ajmal has always been a huge trier for Yorkshire, which is more than some of his (former) teammates can claim. Against Essex at Headingley he bowled very fast and was clearly upset when two slip catches went down in one over. At Canterbury, he was brought on second change, up the hill, into the wind, with grumpy Sidebottom and the medium-fast Patterson given the better end. Yorkshire look an unhappy, bedraggled bunch, and this is the second characterful player to leave, following Wainwright's departure in the close season.

Posted by prashnottz on (May 1, 2012, 18:32 GMT)

Damn BCCI................................

Posted by WillPash on (May 1, 2012, 18:30 GMT)

Same Old Yorkshire CCC. Infighting, Politics and mishandling of talent. They will never learn. Turfing out one of their star premier performers for an over hyped third rate Aussie. Makes you wonder doesn't it...

Posted by hhillbumper on (May 1, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

This would seem to be a case of Yorkshire being Yorkshire.Can they ever go through a period without someone throwing their toys out of their pram?

Posted by jonesy2 on (May 1, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

gillespie must have been taking the mickey when he said that. this guy is a horrible bowler, one of the worse ones ive seen from england yet. and there has been a lot

Posted by   on (May 1, 2012, 18:08 GMT)

He hasn't performed for us since he made the England squad a couple of years ago. He has talent but a bad attitude and, as I am led to believe, is not particularly well liked within the club.

Posted by BellCurve on (May 1, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

1 Test is more than this journeyman deserves. Look at his numbers. They are pathetic.

Posted by bumsonseats on (May 1, 2012, 17:52 GMT)

hope he may try his luck over the the pennines the red rose may give him a change of luck. we need another quick bowler of his class.

Posted by Tufey_Fatos on (May 1, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

Strange...No reason ,, Why can't be a reason....!

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (May 1, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

Yikes! With Yorkshire not having the greatest of starts in CC2 to their promotion campaign, despite being short odds to go up, you start to wonder what is going on below the surface. Shazad is quality and would be ideal for Somerset at the moment, but when they get all their first choices back he will struggle to get in the side. For Middlesex Shazad would be an excellent replacement for Steve Finn and a Finn/Shazad attack, back up by Tim Murtagh would make the Middlesex pace attack a real class act. If only they had a spinner though...

Posted by SDHM on (May 1, 2012, 17:28 GMT)

Bad news for Yorkshire, but one team's loss is another's gain - with us struggling for bowlers through injury at the moment, I'd love to see him down at Taunton!

Posted by   on (May 1, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

I hope Shahzad does end up with Somerset, because we need another class bowler, and he is definately a class bowler

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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