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Ajmal Shahzad

Graham Hardcastle profiles Lancashire's new signing, Ajmal Shahzad

Ajmal Shahzad has arrived at Lancashire with an impressive CV having been part of England squads for an Ashes series Down Under, a 50-over World Cup campaign and a successful World Twenty20 campaign.

The Huddersfield-born, Bradford-raised 26 year-old is on loan at Old Trafford for the rest of the 2012 season after being made available by home county Yorkshire in early May.

One of English cricket's most exciting and exuberant fast bowler's, Shahzad lists Lancashire legend Wasim Akram as one of his heroes. A right-arm seam bowler and handy lower order batsman, he regularly bowls at 90mph plus.

Nicknamed Ajy, he joined Yorkshire's youth set-up aged 16 before becoming the first British-born Asian to play for the White Rose county in 2004.

The few years that followed were beset by injuries, but his breakthrough campaign came in 2009 when he took 40 County Championship wickets and scored 445 runs to help keep Yorkshire up.

He immediately gained recognition from the England Lions selectors, going on tour to South Africa, before making his international debut against Pakistan in a T20 international at Dubai in early 2010, taking two wickets in his first over.

He made his one-day debut on the subsequent tour of Bangladesh before making his Test debut in the English summer of that year against the same opponents, ironically at his current Old Trafford home where he took four wickets. It is only Test appearance to date.

Shahzad had been a non-playing member of England's World T20 winning squad in between the tours to Pakistan and Bangladesh and his Test debut, while he was also a non-playing member of the victorious Ashes-winning squad later that year.

A hamstring injury curtailed his participation in the one-day series Down Under, as did another at the subsequent 50-over World Cup in the sub-continent.

He played through the pain barrier with an ankle impingement for Yorkshire in 2011, struggling for consistency as they were relegated from the top tier of the Championship.

But he made an encouraging start to the 2012 campaign for Yorkshire before opting to head across the M62 to Old Trafford.

Current Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie, a fast bowler of some repute himself, said recently: "Ajmal's got himself in as good a condition as he's ever been in his first-class career. He's worked incredibly hard, and I think he's a fantastic bowler, a very exciting bowler."

Lancashire coach Peter Moores said: "We've got a very good cricketer who's bursting to play and has a really positive outlook on the game.

"What I like about him when you speak to him is that he wants to get out and play and become better as a cricketer. That's what we'll try and help him to do. Our culture is to better players, which hopefully manifests itself into results.

"Everybody I've spoken to about Ajmal suggests he's a very passionate and committed cricketer, which is what I think we've got."

Ahead of his Lancashire debut, Shahzad's best bowling haul is 5-51 for Yorkshire against Durham at the Riverside in 2010 and his career best with the bat is 88 for the White Rose against Sussex at Hove the season previous.

Photo (c) Rebecca Naden/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd

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