Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf to make Northants return

Faheem Ashraf is returning to Northants next summerFaheem Ashraf is returning to Northants next summer
Faheem Ashraf is returning to Northants next summer
Northants have announced that Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf will return to the club for the opening half of next season.

Ashraf played in the 2019 Vitality T20 Blast, claiming 11 wickets at 19, and he will be back next summer and this time be available for all formats of the game.

The County will be plying their trade in the Specsavers County Championship Division One nest season following last week's promotion, and head coach David Ripley believes Ashraf will bring some variation to their seam attack.

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And he is also backing the 25-year-old to deliver with the bat.

“Faheem’s a little bit different bowling wise to what we currently have, he’s got a little bit more pace, he’s a swing bowler and he’s got a batting average of 30,” said Ripley.

“I think the key element for Faheem is although we signed him for white ball cricket this year it was pretty clear to see he could bat properly.

"He’s played test match cricket for Pakistan so he’s a genuine three formats cricketer.”

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The County's opening bowling pair of Ben Sanderson and Brett Hutton will again spearhead the attack next summer, but Ripley believes Ashraf will complement them and offer something extra when conditions begin to favour the batsmen on flatter wickets.

“The fact he’s got the extra pace is key, we’ve got a very fine group of seam bowlers that got us into division one and that’s not going to change," said the head coach.

"But when it’s a bit flatter and it’s the last two days of the game and that little bit of nip has gone out of the wicket, someone with a bit of pace and swing and bowling yorkers then I can see him being a genuine threat when the wickets are flatter.

“What the seam bowlers in Pakistan tend to have to do is find a way to get people out when those wickets are very flat and pretty slow.

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"That’s with swing, that’s with yorkers and bouncers, that’s with reverse swing.”

Northants skipper Adam Rossington is also delighted at the acquisition of Ashraf, and said: "I think he’s definitely a genuine all-rounder, he’s a very good batsman and though we didn’t get to see him bat too many times in the T20 we know he’ll slot in well.

“He’s very skilful and offers something a little bit different to the bowlers we’ve got.

"It does tend to be a bit more bowler friendly here than in Pakistan, particularly with the Dukes ball so hopefully early season there’ll be a bit in the wickets for him.”

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In his first-class career, Ashraf has claimed 117 wickets at an average of 27.61, with best figures of six for 65. He has claimed six five0wicket hauls.

With the bat, his first-class record is 1,534 runs in 59 innings at an average of 30.07. He has a highest score of 116, and has two centuries and six half-centuries to his name.

Ashraf will be available for selection in all-forms of cricket until the end of the 2020 Vitality Blast group stages, subject to NOC clearance.