September 2, 2004

Aftab Habib's Essex future hangs in the balance

Wisden Cricinfo staff

The former England batsman, Aftab Habib, is facing an uncertain future, after it was announced that his county, Essex, had deferred a decision on whether to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season. Habib played in two Tests against New Zealand in 1999, but has averaged just over 35 in first-class cricket this season. Two of his county colleagues were not given a stay of execution, however - Zoheb Sharif and Adrian McCoubrey have both been released.

Sharif, a 21-year-old lefthander and leg-break bowler, made his first-class debut back in 2001, but represented Essex in only four Championship matches, and was completely overlooked for the county's National League side. McCoubrey, a 24-year-old seamer who has represented Ireland, joined Essex in 2003 and played seven County Championship matches and three National League games in his two years with the club.

After explaining that the two players were unlikely to play in the first team in the future, David East, Essex's chief executive, observed: "It is always sad when a player's contract is not renewed. Adrian and Zoheb have been thoroughly professional in their approach and commitment during their time with the club, and everyone thanks them for their contribution and wishes them well for the future."