Northamptonshire have signed unheralded Pakistani-born fast-bowler Mohammad Azharullah for the 2013 season. The 29 year-old will not qualify as an overseas player as he is a permanent resident of the UK and has a British wife. He is expected to receive his UK passport in April.
Azharullah has a strong first-class record in his native Pakistan and, despite living in Yorkshire, went back to play for Water and Power Development Authority in the President’s Trophy this winter, where he took eight wickets in four matches at an average of 42.87. Overall his first-class record reads as 190 wickets at an average of 26.61.
Between 2008 and 2011, Azharullah, who now lives in Yorkshire, played in the Bradford Cricket League for East Bierley CC. In 2012, he signed to play for Shelley CC in the Huddersfield Cricket League and also has an agreement to play for them in 2013. Last season, he topped the Shelley bowling averages with 68 wickets at 16.46.
"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."
Colin Graves, the executive chairman of Yorkshire CCC, has been nominated as deputy chairman of the ECB after winning a secret ballot of county chairmen by 10 votes to seven. He beat Essex chairman Nigel Hilliard in the vote.
Barring any difficulties, Graves will be appointed deputy chairman of the ECB on 8th May, succeeding Dennis Amiss, who recently announced his intention to quit.
Graves has been chairman of Yorkshire since 2006 and has invested a large part of his personal fortune - he founded the Costcutter supermarket chain - in the club. He has been an ECB board director since 2010.
Topley is widely seen as a future England bowler and impressed while playing for the Under-19 side in August’s World Cup in Australia. The 19 year-old is a product of Essex’s prolific Academy and made his debut for the first-team in 2010.
Head Coach Paul Grayson said, “Reece is one of the most exciting young bowlers in the country and had a great season in 2012, especially in the Friends Life t20 competition. He is a dedicated and hard-working player who will hopefully go on to take many wickets for the club in the years to come.”
Craddock’s route to a professional contract has been less conventional. The 23 year-old was born in Yorkshire and was spotted by Essex coach Paul Grayson whilst playing for the Unicorns in 2011. He impressed during a trial period with the club and was signed for 2012.
Grayson said, “Tom is another young player coming from a crop of talent at the club and is improving all the time. Last summer was frustrating for him with the weather but after a successful winter in Melbourne with Bryce McGain, I am hoping he has a good season ahead of him.”
Kent coach Jimmy Adams has agreed a contract extension which will see him remain at the helm at Canterbury until the end of the 2014 season.
Commenting on his new deal, Adams said: “I am extremely pleased that the county has seen fit to extend my contract. I look forward to this continued involvement with the county, and with it, the opportunity to work with an exciting and talented group of players.”
The former West Indian international was appointed as Paul Farbrace’s successor at the end of 2011 and led a strong Kent promotion challenge last season. This season will see him work with a new captain in James Tredwell following Rob Key’s decision to step down.
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