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Azhar Ali joins Worcestershire after Matthew Wade pulls out of overseas deal

Experienced Pakistan batter signs for full summer of County Championship

Azhar Ali takes on the short ball, Bangladesh vs Pakistan, 2nd Test, 4th day, Dhaka, December 7, 2021

Azhar Ali has played more than 90 Tests for Pakistan  •  AFP/Getty Images

Worcestershire have signed Pakistan batter Azhar Ali as one of their overseas players for the summer. Azhar will replace Matt Wade, who has withdrawn from his planned stint after being picked up in the IPL mega-auction.
Azhar, 36, is a veteran of more than 90 Tests, and has previously played county cricket for Somerset. He is expected to be available for a full summer of the Championship.
Paul Pridgeon, Worcestershire's steering group chairman, said: "I think it is a fantastic signing and head coach Alex Gidman is delighted. Azhar should be available for all 14 County Championship matches. His record in Test cricket is outstanding, and he offers great experience and is of high quality.
"He has got a lot going for him, and it is excellent as well that we've got someone available to play County Championship cricket all summer. It gives us that stability.
"Azhar will be great in the dressing room as well and will also be able to pass on some good information and experience to the young lads. We spoke to [Somerset director of cricket] Andy Hurry, and he said Azhar is singularly the nicest human being you could ever come across.
"The fact he has played county cricket already so knows all about English conditions is another plus factor."
Azhar, a former Pakistan captain, has scored 18 hundreds and almost 7000 runs in Tests. He appeared for Somerset in three spells between 2018 and 2021, making a century on debut against Worcestershire; that was the only time he reached three figures, however, with an average of 28.76 from 37 innings.
Wade, the Australia wicketkeeper-batter, had agreed a deal to play at New Road across all formats in 2022, but was signed by Gujarat Titans in last week's IPL auction.