England the target as Ajmal Shahzad starts again

The Yorkshire-born fast bowler lost his way but hopes a new start with Nottinghamshire will bring him the chance to face the Australians this summer

Had he been inclined to look ahead a couple of winters ago, Ajmal Shahzad might have seen himself as an integral part of the England attack for the 2013 Ashes series.

Great things had been predicted for the Yorkshire fast bowler, renowned for his pace and aggression. He was a surprise inclusion on the 2010-11 Ashes tour, in which he played no Tests but appeared in both Twenty20 matches and the opening one-day international. It was by no means fanciful to suppose he would be a fully-fledged England player by the time the battle for the urn recommenced.

But things did not go according to plan. An injury picked up in Australia would not go away and his struggle for form and fitness coincided with Yorkshire's relegation in the Championship, after which Shahzad was effectively accused of letting his team-mates down by the Yorkshire chairman, Colin Graves.

Unsurprisingly, Shahzad's relationship with Yorkshire soured. Even the arrival of Jason Gillespie as coach could not repair the damage. Last spring, only days after Gillespie had hailed him as a "fantastic bowler of Test quality", he was sacked. The player once proud to be the first Yorkshire-born Asian to play first-class cricket was now branded a troublemaker who put his own interests ahead of the collective. His move to Lancashire on loan seemed only to compound the falling-out.

This week brings a fresh start when he makes his competitive debut for Nottinghamshire in the Championship against Middlesex at Trent Bridge. The pitch will be a typically slow April seamer, but Shahzad will still at times try to bowl like the wind. The questions are: can Shahzad be tamed; and are Nottinghamshire, led by a director of cricket in Mick Newell who is not afraid of confrontation, the county to tame him?

It may be a positive that, on reflection, the 27-year-old accepts he was "stubborn" in resisting Yorkshire's attempts to curb his natural instincts. On the other hand, it is an admission that falls short of repentance.

"I've always seen myself as an attacking, aggressive bowler," he said. "I always wanted to take the new ball, bowling short, sharp bursts, intimidating batsmen and hopefully getting a few wickets. But it came to a point at Yorkshire when I wasn't being given the new ball and instead was being asked to do more of a holding role, bowling line and length.

"Don't get me wrong, that job has to be done. But with my natural attributes – skiddy quick, having a good yorker, a bouncer and a few tricks up my sleeve – I wanted to be given my head, and it frustrated me when that didn't happen. There was a clash of personalities [with Jason Gillespie] but there had been problems niggling underneath for a year before I left."

Yet there is regret from Shahzad that the relationship did not flourish. "I wish I could have worked longer with him [Gillespie], because he is a legend of the game. But whether you are a legend or just mediocre, coaching is all about managing your players. I wish he would have handled me and one or two of the other lads a bit differently."

Shahzad was especially dismayed over the chairman's comments. "When I had a bad season for Yorkshire [in 2011] I had ankle problems. I was half-fit and didn't do as well as I would have liked. So getting slated at the end of the year was out of order. But it could have been handled better from both sides. I was a little bit stubborn, didn't want to give in, and it was the same on the management side. I wish I could turn back time and smooth it all out and play it a different way. But now I'm at Notts it is a fresh start."

Neither party was the other's first choice. Shahzad would have been happy to continue with Lancashire, while Newell had hoped to recruit the former Glamorgan paceman James Harris. Yet Newell has no doubts the relationship can thrive.

"I didn't really question whether we should sign him," he said. "We did our homework. I spoke to David Saker at England, and Peter Moores spoke very highly of him when he was at Lancashire.

"My perspective is that you don't necessarily treat everybody exactly the same. If there are little things about him that need a bit of special treatment he will get that, provided he delivers on the field. We think we have a very talented bloke on our hands who has a bit to prove."

Shahzad is in no doubt of that. "I was disappointed not to play a Test in Australia," he said. "I had my debut against Bangladesh in 2010; I thought I bowled nicely. I got into the Twenty-20 and one-day set-ups and every time I played I think I did well.

"But I picked up a hamstring strain in the World Cup from trying too hard and just drifted away from it after that. I was trying to get my form back but my ankle was always sore and that, combined with the troublesome time I was having at Yorkshire, did not really help.

"Coming here I will play alongside top-class players who are in the England set-up and playing in international tournaments. Mick has told me exactly where he wants me to fit into his plans and I'm very happy with that. I'll still bowl aggressively, still try to make things happen, but I want to set the right standard.

"If I can do well against these guys in the nets and stand out amongst some of the best it can get me back in the spotlight, because I still have massive ambitions."

15 reasons to look forward to the summer of cricket

Wisden

The yellow-jacketed bible is 150 years old this year and as comprehensive and opinionated as ever

An Ashes whitewash?

After Australia's 4-0 defeat in India, where England won for the first time since 1985, there may never be a better chance for an England side to wipe the floor with their oldest adversaries, who have not been on the end of a real Ashes thrashing since Mike Brearley led his side to a 5-1 win Down Under in 1978-79

A midsummer Twenty20

Because from 2014 the summer tournament format that made the Twenty20 Cup an instant hit when it was launched in 2003 will be ditched in favour of a season-long league played on Friday nights. Critics fear that county cricket's moneyspinner could lose its shine as a result

The end of the Champions Trophy

In a ridiculously overcrowded international fixture schedule, the ICC Champions Trophy to be staged in England and Wales in June will thankfully be the last. After 14 years, the ICC have decided that a World Cup every four years is quite sufficient to determine the best international side over 50 overs

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

Marvel at The Crab as the Guyanan left-hander with the ugliest stance in world cricket goes into bat for his fourth English county after Derbyshire dug deep into their pockets in the hope of staying in the First Division. Ugly but efficient, though: his 10-year Test average is better than Sachin Tendulkar's

Ricky Ponting

The former Australian captain, whose only previous experience of county cricket was a short spell with Somerset in 2004, returns to England in June and July to cover for Graeme Smith at Surrey while the South Africa captain is on international duty

Graeme Smith at Surrey

The hardline leadership style of the South African Test captain could be the factor that enables Surrey's talented side to turn from tragedy — after the death of Tom Maynard — to triumph in 2013

The Old Trafford Media Centre

The vivid red exterior — matching the startlingly modern Point facility that sits menacingly on the shoulder of the old pavilion — may not be to everyone's taste but the new Lancashire media centre puts the county in the First Division in one respect, even if the team are in the Second Division

James Harris

The most coveted bowler to change counties turned down Nottinghamshire in favour of Middlesex. The 22-year-old seamer had previously led the Glamorgan attack since he was 16

Better weather

After what feels like the longest winter on record, preceded by the wettest summer, things can only get better, surely?

Alex Hales

The 24-year-old Nottinghamshire and England batsman is a Twenty20 superstar in the making after five half-centuries in just 17 international T20 innings, in the latest of which he sped to 80 off just 42 balls against New Zealand in February

Cricket in the last week of September

A marathon County Championship season that begins this Wednesday does not end until Friday 27 September, when the weather will almost certainly be a good deal warmer than now

The Trent Bridge replay screen

Nottinghamshire supporters may lament the passing of the uniquely informative scoreboard at the Radcliffe Road end of the Trent Bridge ground — itself once a facility ahead of its time — but the replay screen that has gone up in its place can show pictures of almost HD quality. At a cost of £1.8 million, though, it may be the world's most expensive television set

England players turning out for their counties

Centrally contracted England players — especially the bowlers — rarely make more than a couple of appearances a season for their county sides. This year, though, England have cleared Alastair Cook, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott for two Championship fixtures before the May Test series against New Zealand, while Nick Compton, Joe Root and Chris Woakes have the chance to play three matches and Graham Onions the opportunity to play in four

Yorkshire back in Division One

Love or loathe what the natives modestly refer to as "God's chosen county", there is no doubt the top division of the Championship is stronger for Yorkshire's presence

Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit