Sussex swoop to sign Shahzad
Ajmal Shahzad has completed a surprise move to Sussex despite having a year to run on his contract with Nottinghamshire. Shahzad, an England prospect a few years ago, has signed a three-year deal with Sussex after Nottinghamshire agreed to let him leave.
"It has come about quickly but I'm just delighted to be down here with a great squad, great management, surrounded by good people and I hope it brings out the best in me," Shahzad said.
"This move has been made purely for cricketing reasons and I'm hoping to get the best I can out of it to progress my career. I'd like to thank Notts for being so understanding. My white ball cricket has come on a lot while I've been here but I want to be a prominent member of the squad in all formats and Sussex have given me the opportunity to do that."
Shahzad was in and out of Nottinghamshire's Championship team but played a key role in white-ball cricket, helping them to win the 2013 Yorkshire Bank 40.
His frustrations at an England career that died almost as soon as it had begun is reflected in his restive mood. He has been capped in all three formats but last played an international match at the 2011 World Cup. Shahzad will look to Sussex's cricket manager, Mark Robinson, to have the same sort of uplifting effect on his career that he had on Chris Jordan, who has ascended to the England team since joining as a similarly unfulfilled talent from Surrey two years ago.
Robinson did not flinch at such ambitions: "We're delighted that Ajmal is joining us. He is a cricketer of great ability and who hasn't yet fulfilled all of his potential. He can bowl with a yard of pace and has the potential to be a genuine bowling allrounder. We hope he can have a similar impact that Chris Jordan had, and fulfil the same role, helping balance the team."
Shahzad is Sussex's second close-season signing in an attempt to replenish their pace-bowling ranks. They also won the contest for the Essex tearaway Tymal Mills. Life will certainly be interesting at Hove next season as they seek a double jackpot. Notts, meanwhile, look light on pace-bowling resources.
Sussex will be Shahzad's fourth county since May 2012. He left Yorkshire in aggravating circumstances, with the county frustrated over his strong-willed nature and reluctance to follow team goals. Shahzad later conceded that there had been "faults on both sides".
Shahzad, the first British-born Asian to play for Yorkshire, moved initially on loan to cross-Pennines rivals Lancashire and then signed a three-year contract with Notts at the end of the season.
He took only 18 wickets in eight Championship appearances for Nottinghamshire last season but was more impressive in the limited-overs formats, which increasingly seems to suit his attacking style and outgoing personality.
"Ajmal's form with the white ball was very good but he didn't make quite the impact that he would have wanted in our four-day side," said Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket and an England selector.
"His move might influence the manner in which we recruit our overseas players next season, with an eye on limited-overs cricket and it's highly likely that we'll have two bowlers who have been selected to specialise at different stages of the season. In red-ball cricket, I see this as an opportunity for us to promote from within and we'll be looking to Andy Carter, Jake Ball, Brett Hutton and Luke Wood to make a claim for a place."