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Yorkshire CCC: Shahzad plays spy in camp
Yorkshire are unconcerned by Ajmal Shahzad’s influence from afar as they prepare to face Roses rivals Lancashire in tonight’s mouthwatering Friends Life t20 clash at Headingley.
Shahzad, on loan at Lancashire for the rest of the season after leaving his parent county under a cloud in May, is not allowed to play in either of the two North Division matches between the two under England and Wales Cricket Board loan rules.
The fast bowler is currently sidelined with an intercostal injury anyway, but has been giving his current team-mates tips on how his former team-mates go about their Twenty20 cricket.
Having played a part in Yorkshire’s pre-season preparations, which included a 20-over inter-counties competition win in Barbados, the Huddersfield-born player should have some useful information to pass on.
“He’s been giving us plenty of tips,” said Lancashire’s Steven Croft. “We roughly know their plans and they might know ours, but on the day it’s about how we can nail them down under pressure. He’s given us some nice information, so we’ll hopefully use it wisely.”
Buoyant Yorkshire are top of the North Division with nine points from six matches, but the Red Rose are just two points behind having played one less.
“I’m not bothered what Ajmal says to be honest,” said White Rose director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon.
“We’ll just hopefully carry on playing the way we are. If we play to our best, we’re confident of coming out on top.”
A crowd in excess of 10,000 will be present at Headingley tonight as Yorkshire look to follow up last season’s Roses t20 double, which they are well placed to do given their current good form.
“It’s going to be a great occasion because Lancashire are in good form too. They played extremely well the other night against Durham, I watched them on the TV. It will be a cracker,” said Moxon.
One of the main reasons for Yorkshire’s success has been the form of overseas fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who will continue to lead the attack in the absence of Ryan Sidebottom due to a calf strain he picked up in training earlier in the week.
The Australian’s haul of 13 wickets is more than anybody in the competition, with eight of them coming in the last over of an innings mainly due to his trusty yorker.
He took three wickets in the final over of the win against Leicestershire at Headingley and two in each of the final overs in wins against Durham at the Riverside last Friday and against Leicester at Grace Road on Wednesday.
The other last-over wicket came in the win against Derbyshire at the County Ground.
The New South Welshman, 22, “I’ve heard a lot about matches against Lancashire. The crowd are quite vocal, apparently. It should be a really good game of cricket. I can’t wait.”
Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale is again absent with a hip injury, so Azeem Rafiq will lead the side.
Tickets will be available on the gate at Headingley tonight.