Shahzad keen to bolster armoury

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England newcomer Ajmal Shahzad is relishing the chance to learn more about the art of fast bowling after having his first lesson on sub-continental wickets.

Yorkshireman Shahzad is on his first senior England tour, in Bangladesh, where the pitches are a far cry from the seamer-friendly square at Headingley Carnegie.

But the 24-year-old, who picked up 1-42 in yesterday’s first warm-up match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, is eager to use the alien environment to become a more rounded performer.

England face the BCB again in Fatullah tomorrow and Shahzad would be happy to get another run-out on the abrasive Bangladeshi tracks.

“I’m enjoying the opportunity and learning massively from everyone, it is really great to be here,” he said. “It’s hard work here but I’m really enjoying myself and I’m hoping to learn a lot.

Ajmal Shahzad

"I was running in yesterday and the first three balls did a little bit. After that, absolutely nothing," said Ajmal Shahzad

“It’s not like hitting the pitch at Headingley where you think ‘I’m going to get a bit out of this’. I was running in yesterday and the first three balls did a little bit. After that, absolutely nothing. I was gutted.”

The all-rounder, summoned by his country for the trips to the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh, was handed his debut in second Twenty20 against Pakistan in Dubai on Saturday.

It proved an eventful bow. His first ball in an England shirt was heaved straight back over his head for four by Imran Nazir, but he bounced straight back to pick up two wickets that over.

It had the look of a fairytale beginning for Shahzad until he made a mess of a catch off Stuart Broad and was then hit for 17 in the penultimate over as Abdul Razzaq took his side to victory with two sixes.

But the bubbly character has not been affected by the experience and was quickly back into action in the 112-run victory yesterday.

Reflecting on his start to life with England, Shahzad said: “It’s a step up, I noticed that as soon as we got here.

“It’s a new thing for me, a massive eye opener. I got my first game out of the way and the first few overs went for me.

“When I got the two wickets I thought ‘this is a bit too easy, it’s going to get more difficult’. Then at the end...well Razzaq is one of the best hitters in the world and he smashed me miles.

“I just want to play my next game now so I can prove any doubters that I’m up for the step up and I’m ready for it.”

Shahzad is particularly keen to develop his understanding of reverse swing.

Ajmal Shahzad & Imran Farhat

Shahzad has Imran Farhat caught at mid-on for his second wicket in his first over of international cricket. "I thought ‘this is a bit too easy, it’s going to get more difficult’," he revealed

He bowls at sufficient pace to utilise the skill but is quick to shoot down suggestions that he has it mastered.

“I’m here to learn and I want to learn the art of reverse swing, learn about the right areas on sub-continental wickets,” he added.

“There are rumours going round that I’ve been brought into the squad to provide reverse swing. I naturally swing the ball in and away, the red ball that is, but I’m here to learn about the art of reverse swing.

“Today in the nets I got it to go slightly both ways and hopefully I can take that into future games, if selected.”

Shahzad has no pre-conceptions about his place in team director Andy Flower’s pecking order and is ready to give his all for Yorkshire next summer if he is not required by England.

But, like most English players, he cannot help but cast a hopeful eye towards Australia and a trip down under next winter.

“If this is my only opportunity then I want to learn a massive amount from it,” he said.

“If nothing comes of it then I want to go back to the county season and show what I am capable of there.

“But I’d love to involved on future tours, future games. Looking a long way ahead the Ashes would be beautiful, but let’s just take the small steps and try to get there.

“I just want to put my name in the hat for future tours.”


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