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New boy backed for Sussex deal
Former England coach David Lloyd has tipped Ashar Zaidi to earn a permanent contract at Sussex.
Zaidi made his debut against Yorkshire at Hove yesterday on non-contract terms despite not having played first class cricket since 2009.
The 32-year-old Pakistani, who has been playing for Accrington in the Lancashire League for the last three years, made 17 at No.8 as Sussex recovered from 114-5 to reach 276-9 when bad light stopped play.
Lloyd, who is president of Accrington CC, has likened Zaidi to current England all-rounder Samit Patel – both in physique and ability – and reckons he can be a hit at Hove.
Lloyd said: “Ashar has been a revelation since he joined us and I’m really surprised he hasn’t been picked up before.
“I know the fact Sussex have put him straight in will raise a few eyebrows but I can tell you the lad can play. He is a really natural cricketer.
“He is an excellent bat and only this weekend broke Bobby Simpson’s (former Australia captain) all-time record of runs in a season for Accrington which had stood for 54 years.
“He also bowls really good left-arm spin and is a lot like Samit Patel in build and the job he does for the team. He needs to get fit but good players come in all shapes and sizes.
“I’m really pleased for Ash that Sussex have given him a chance because he is such a dedicated cricketer. It’s a big ask to jump straight in against Yorkshire on a pitch he doesn’t really know much about but Ash certainly won’t be out of his depth.”
Zaidi, who played 88 first class games for Islamabad, came in with Sussex in deep trouble at 137-6 and looked solid before he was on the end of a debatable lbw decision.
He said: “I’ve been in good form all season and want to make the most of it now I’ve been given this opportunity. My main aim is to get back into the first class system again and win a contract so hopefully I can impress in the rest of the game.”