Northants bring in Pakistani seamer

Northamptonshire have signed Muhammad Azhar Ullah on a one-year deal. The 29-year-old seamer was born in Pakistan and, until November, had been playing for the Water and Power Development Authority in Pakistani domestic cricket but qualifies as a non-overseas player in county cricket through residency, which was granted in February, and a UK passport, which he expects to receive in April. He is married to a British girl and lives in Yorkshire.

"We are pleased that Azhar has decided to join us as he will provide proven first-class quality in the seam bowling department, providing healthy competition for places," David Ripley, the Northants head coach, said. "He bowls with good pace and having learnt his trade in Pakistan has developed ways of getting batsmen out on flat subcontinent pitches."

Azhar Ullah has a decent first-class record. Since his first-class debut in 2004, he has played 53 first-class matches and claimed 190 wickets at 26.51 apiece. In List-A cricket he has claimed 40 wickets and concedes an average of 5.27 runs per over, but he has not played a T20 game since 2008. He was recommended to Northants by their allrounder James Middlebrook and has a good record in league cricket in England over several years.

Northants' CEO, David Smith, said: "Our seam bowling attack with Trent Copeland, David Willey, Steven Crook, Luke Evans, Olly Stone, Andrew Hall, Lee Daggett, Azhar Ullah and Sam Sweeney offers us good cover for potential injury and player rotation to manage work load. We also have good spin bowling options with Middlebrook, Con de Lange and Matt Spriegel."

His signing is subject to approval from the ECB, though Northants do not anticipate a problem.