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Yorkshire sign Shadab Khan for Vitality Blast stint

Second Pakistani overseas player to join Haris Rauf for 2022 season

David Hopps
David Hopps
Shadab Khan is heading for Headingley  •  Getty Images

Shadab Khan is heading for Headingley  •  Getty Images

Yorkshire's overseas signings could not be more designed to persuade their Muslim communities that change is here to stay. To the Pakistan quick, Haris Rauf, who will play the first six Championship matches as well as an envisaged stint in the Vitality Blast, they have added his fellow Pakistani, the legspinner Shadab Khan, as they herald the start of a new era.
Yorkshire are not openly saying that they are deliberately majoring on Pakistan-based talent to build trust after the racism allegations levelled by Azeem Rafiq plunged the county into one of the deepest crisis in its history, but it is pretty self-evident.
It certainly bears comparison with their first attempt to woo minority ethnic fans, in 1992, when they signed an Indian batsman and he posed for photographs with a pint of Tetley bitter - a slight miscalculation perhaps, in the Muslim areas of the inner cities. But then Sachin Tendulkar was not so famous then.
Ottis Gibson, Yorkshire's coach was delighted at the prospect. "He's a fantastic T20 player. I was in the PSL and he was player of the tournament, I think, making runs, taking wickets, full of energy. He brings a lot. In T20 cricket, you like all your players to be three-dimensional and he's definitely a three-dimensional player that will add value with bat, ball and in the field."
Shadab is available for the first five matches, and then from the ninth match onwards, and will be a key figure as Yorkshire seek to arrest a poor record in T20 cricket. The view of their interim director of cricket, Darren Gough, is that often their overseas signings have not been ambitious enough.
With Gary Ballance expected to miss the start of the season - perhaps much longer - because of a recurrence of his mental health issues, and Tom Kohler-Cadmore still affected by concussion he suffered on a pre-season tour to Dubai, Yorkshire are also trying to finalise another overseas batter on a short-term contract. Sri Lanka sources confidently predict that Dimuth Karunaratne is the batter in pole position, but Yorkshire insist that no deal has been finalised.
Ballance's mental health issues remain a private affair, although it seems fair to observe in passing, without jumping to conclusions, that he received considerable criticism for his role in Rafiq's racism allegations.
Gough said: "Obviously, that's a serious situation, so we just want to support him the best we can and give him the space that's required. I would like to think that people give him that space as well because it's a serious illness, mental health.
"Having lost two of my best friends to suicide, we will give him as much time as he possibly needs to make sure he's in the right frame of mind to play cricket again. However long that takes."
Short on top-order batters, it is not surprising that Yorkshire hope that Joe Root's post-England relaxation might involve a spot of Championship cricket, perhaps against Kent at Headingley on April 28.
Gibson suggested he had said: "'Just get yourself down here, back to your happy place in Headingley and come and play some cricket with your mates'. He's going to take a break now and I believe he'll be back for the last two or three four-day games, near the back end of April."

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps