County news May 8, 2012

Shahzad to join Lancashire


Ajmal Shahzad, the former England seamer who was released by Yorkshire in controversial circumstances last week, has joined Lancashire.

Shahzad was made available to other counties after Yorkshire's chairman Colin Graves accused him of not being a team player. He has moved to Lancashire on a loan deal until the end of the season with a view to agreeing a more permanent contract at a later date.

The attraction for Lancashire is obvious. The defending champions have lost three of their first four games and currently find themselves just four points off the bottom of the division one championship table.

Shgahzad tweeted: "Great feeling to be back into cricket today! Appreciate Lancashire for having me on a loan agreement till the end of the season."

Lancashire's cricket director Mike Watkinson said: "With Tom Smith being ruled out for at least a month after tearing a hamstring and Pakistan set to announce this week their squad for a series in Sri Lanka this summer, which could mean us missing out on bringing Junaid back, the availability of a hugely talented and experienced bowler comes at a good time for us."

Although Shahzad's first-class record is modest - he has a bowling average of 33.80 and an underwhelming economy rate in both limited-overs formats - he has long been seen as a cricketer of rich potential and Lancashire will hope that Peter Moores' sympathetic man management will coax the best out of him. Shahzad has played one Test, 11 ODIs and three T20Is for England.

"We are delighted to bring a bowler of Ajmal's quality into our squad," Moores said. "He will join a strong seam attack, giving us the depth needed to compete on all fronts. He is known for his competitive nature, which will fit perfectly into the set-up at Lancashire."

As if the failure to harness Shahzad's potential was not painful enough, the fact that the player has joined their keenest rivals will sting some at Yorkshire, a deal also brokered by a former Lancashire player, Neil Fairbrother, who is Shahzad's agent.

Eight years ago he became the first Yorkshire-born cricketer of Pakistani background to represent Yorkshire and is the first Yorkshire player to move to Lancashire since David Byas did so in 2002.

Shahzad had also interested Sussex, Somerset and Surrey, among others, and his quick tour of England last week to talk to potential suitors emphasised that many counties did not share Yorkshire's reservations about his talent or commitment.

Yorkshire's relationship with Shahzad deteriorated over time because in his eyes they were insisting that he bowled out of character, insisting on a disciplined - he thought regimented - approach with little forgiveness for experimentation. Moores' challenge is to integrate a dedicated but strong-willed cricketer with an appetite for innovation into a team pattern.

Yorkshire sought to e nsure that Shahzad left on a happy note with the county's official Twitter feed stating: "Wishing @AJShahzad all best with Lanky! Real shame it didn't work out at #yccc. Both parties on different cricket pages but a genuine talent. Ajmal had different thoughts on how his cricket should go than club. He wasn't happy. Threatened positive atmosphere in squad. No one at club is happy that Ajmal has gone and we do genuinely wish him well."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • D on May 9, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    It's a funny business and maybe just a coincidence but all my life, Yorkshire has been falling out with its senior players. From Ray Illingworth to Matthew Hoggard, they all seem to end up leaving in acrimonious circumstances.

  • sam on May 8, 2012, 19:10 GMT

    hmm what about going to somerset, who have massive pace bowling shortages. Missed chance there

  • Matthew on May 8, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    @AdrianVandenStael That's if Starc gets his visa sorted out. If not Yorkshire will be left with egg on their faces yet again

  • John on May 8, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    I have seen Shahzad only once - that in a WC2011 match against Bangladesh in Bangladesh and he was simply superb. Bangali batsmen had no clue to his reverse swing and he was simply the best English bowler on display that night. And yeah England lost that ODI game too ..

  • Michael on May 8, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    Well either Yorkshire are right now about what they say about Shahzad not being a team player, in which case they wasted over four years of time and resources investing in him when they could have given that attention to a real "team player", or they are wrong about him, in which case the four years' experience they've given him is about to benefit their greatest rivals. I thought anyway that Yorkshire were proud of the value they set by home-grown talent; so why is Huddersfield-born Ajmal Shahzad being replaced with Mitchell Starc?

  • Mark on May 8, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Bust-ups between club and player are nothing new. And players who have a reputation as "enfantes teribles" are nothing new (Nasser Hussain was one particular example eraly in his career). It is up to the clubs to sort such issues out. Sometimes the relationship breaks down so badly that a change of county is the only solution. In this case I suepct that Lancashire have got a good deal. They have a player who is burning with a sense of injustice, who wants to prove himself and knows that if he doesn't make this work he will be toast. As for Lancashire already having a lot of bowling, well, three defeats in four games suggests that they are struggling on the field: an injection of new talent can't hurt.

  • Zohaib on May 8, 2012, 12:07 GMT

    good for him.....surely he will do well now!

  • Stuart on May 8, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    If he makes this a permanent move, all parties can have a good old meet-up in division 2 next year.

  • Ian on May 8, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    I don't always agree with the direction that my employer wants to take but sometimes you have to understand that you are in a significant minority and to get your head down and get on with it. That is being part of a team and having the right team ethic. Challenge by all means but then get on with it. If Shazad could not do that then I think Yorkshire have taken the right approach, especially if the rest of the squad have bought into the direction of coach and captain.

    Nutcutlet... a lot of our wool went overseas you know

  • Jason on May 8, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    OK, so his first class record is modest... the start of his international career is full of promise... however I fear he may be a little on the high maintenance side (as many before him have been). To be fair the somewhat parochial Yorkshire management have not the best record over the years of looking after the more, ahem, needy players regardless of their background... however I do wish him the very best and pray he is not an addition to the ever growing underachiever list of wasted talent lost by British sport over the years... However Ajmal Shahzad MUST want it and work for it... his destiny is in his hands

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