County Championship round-up: Rivals in race to sign outcast Shahzad


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The Independent Online

A scramble is on to sign Ajmal Shahzad after Yorkshire admitted their differences with the 26-year-old England bowler, who made one Test appearance against Bangladesh in 2010 and was a member of the Ashes-winning squad the following winter, cannot be reconciled.

Shahzad, the first Yorkshire-born Asian to represent the county, has been unhappy since Colin Graves, the outspoken Yorkshire chairman, branded some senior players "a disgrace" after they were relegated from the First Division of the County Championship last season.

There have also been disagreements over Shahzad's role in the team with the player apparently feeling he should have free rein to attack, at odds with the more disciplined approach demanded by the county.

Graves said yesterday that Shahzad remained unhappy and alleged that the player had said during Yorkshire's match against Kent last week that "his future would be elsewhere", prompting Yorkshire to announce on Tuesday that Shahzad would be leaving, either permanently or on loan, as soon as a move to another county could be arranged.

A meeting with the player and his agent failed to achieve a resolution. "It was clear to me there was no way forward," Graves said yesterday. "I'm not prepared to have someone playing for Yorkshire who is not ready to be part of the team."

In Shahzad's absence, Yorkshire moved into a strong position against Leicestershire at Scarborough yesterday, with England Lions batsman Jonny Bairstow furthering his push for the senior team by reaching 182 before he drove straight to cover off Wayne White. Yorkshire totalled 447, while Leicestershire were out for 116.

Rain at Lord's frustrated England captain Andrew Strauss's hopes for time at the crease against Worcestershire but the rain relented enough for Ian Bell to convert his overnight 59 into his first century since his double hundred against India last August.