Cricket: Sheriyar swings through Kent

Worcestershire v Kent
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The Independent Online
THE DRIVE to tap the cricket potential of England's young Asian population, represented in the first Test by Aftab Habib, has another emerging role model in one of the Leicestershire batsman's former colleagues. Alamgir Sheriyar's progress ran into a cul-de-sac at Grace Road but at New Road, Worcester, he is thriving.

The 25-year-old left-arm quick bowler enjoyed a red-letter day yesterday as Kent, who had chosen to bat first, were dismissed for a miserable 119. He reached 50 wickets for the championship season when he had David Fulton leg-before wicket and celebrated the milestone by dismissing Trevor Ward and Andrew Symonds with his next two deliveries.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said, inaccurately as it happens. He pointed out immediately that he had done it before, on his championship debut for Leicestershire in 1994, when Durham were on the receiving end. He has come on since those days, when he was regarded as slightly wild and had Alan Mullally barring his way to regular first- team cricket.

Like Habib, his team-mate for a season at Leicester, Sheriyar was born in England. Unlike Habib, however, he did not benefit from a public-school education and, as such, is arguably closer to the example that the game's more enlightened promoters are keen to push forward. Born in Birmingham of Afghan parents, he attended secondary school in Edgbaston and completed his studies at Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College in inner-city Balsall Heath.

He totalled 62 first-class wickets in 1997 but is well on course to pass that after finishing with 4 for 43 yesterday. The key, he said, is that he has found and kept his rhythm this season and has worked to develop an inswinger.

Swing was an important factor in yesterday's productivity, more so than the pitch, which was slow and not well endowed with bounce but did not offer extravagant movement off the seam. Umpires John Steele and John Hampshire had no complaints, even if Kent's batsmen did. In truth, they performed with little distinction.

Their fate, though, could have been worse. After Symonds, trying to flick the ball off his legs, had failed to prevent the Sheriyar treble - the second inflicted on Kent in a week after Tim Munton performed the feat for Warwickshire at Maidstone - the visitors were 14 for 4 in the ninth over. That became 14 for 5 when Robert Key ended a 64-minute duck in the 14th and 28 for 6 when Mark Ealham, dropped by Sheriyar on nought offering a return catch, nicked Tom Moody to second slip.

Only a partnership of 70 in 21 overs between Matthew Fleming and Dean Headley from 40 for 7 spared Kent's total indignity. Moody claimed both on the way to figures of 4 for 27, then Kent threatened to embarrass their hosts, Headley and Min Patel taking two wickets each in the first 13 overs of Worcestershire's reply.