New era at Yorkshire as Shahzad makes debut

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The Independent Online

Ajmal Shahzad became the first Yorkshire-born Asian to play for the county in their 141-year history yesterday but his debut ended in a 39-run Totesport League defeat by Worcestershire.

The White Rose, often criticised for failing to hand chances to home-grown ethnic minorities, called the 18-year-old academy product Shahzad into the side after a host of injuries blighted their attack. He opened the bowling from the Kirkstall Lane end with Tim Bresnan and fared quite well on a good batting wicket going for 35 off six overs.

Shahzad, whose brief spell at the crease ended when he was stumped for five, said: "I'm chuffed to bits. It was just a great moment for me going out and playing in front of this crowd at Headingley. Now I want to keep performing and do it again."

The England Under-19 player believes his emergence will encourage other youngsters from ethnic backgrounds to push on and play for the county.

He said: "There's plenty of Asians coming through now and I'm just happy that I'm one of them. I think more will follow. They will see that the theory Yorkshire don't let Asians through isn't true. I believe they will work harder now to get their chance and think 'if he can do it, why not me?'"

Yorkshire's operations director, Geoff Cope, said: "It's a massive day for Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We've had a reputation for not helping Asian youths in the game but we've always said that's not been the case. This shows it doesn't matter about creed or colour. If players are talented enough, then they will get opportunities here, and if they are Yorkshire-born that's even better. Hopefully the other lads in the scholarship and academy will see what Ajmal has done and realise they can do the same."

Vikram Solanki was Worcestershire's top score with 68, hitting nine fours and a six in a stylish 71-ball innings, and he was well supported by Graeme Hick (54) and Kadeer Ali (51).

Yorkshire tightened up with the spinner Richard Dawson taking 2 for 42 as the visitors finished on 238 for 6.

In reply Craig White (31) and Matthew Wood (46) opened well as the hosts reach 86 for 1, White going after mistiming a hook off Matthew Mason. However Wood was run out four runs short of his half-century and Michael Lumb (16) followed in similar circumstances.

England's Anthony McGrath (three) then top-edged a Gareth Batty delivery behind to Steven Rhodes and suddenly Phoenix were 108 for 4. The Aussie Phil Jaques (25) hit two sixes but his next attempt off Mark Harrity flew to Ben Smith at midwicket.

Bresnan raised hopes with 29 runs off 29 deliveries but once Nadeem Malik had bowled him and Dawson, the rally petered out and Phoenix were dismissed for 199 with nine balls left.

Lancashire ended Glamorgan's unbeaten Totesport League record with a five-wicket victory at Old Trafford to go level on points with the Dragons at the top of the First Division.

A solid batting effort saw Lancashire reach their target of 211 with more than 10 overs to spare. Carl Hooper guided his side to victory with 49 not out from 44 balls.