The lure of playing at Edgbaston once again was a strong pull for Hassan Ali.
That’s the view of First Team Coach Mark Robinson who heavily recruited the Pakistan international this winter.
“One of the attractions for him coming here was Birmingham, playing in front of the Hollies again and at a ground where he’s had previous success,” said Robinson. “We beat off strong competition.”
The 28-year-old Pakistan international has played three ODI’s at Edgbaston, including the two in 2017 Champions Trophy where he was awarded Player-of-the-Tournament as Pakistan lifted their first global ODI trophy since the 1992 World Cup.
Those fixtures, including a crunch match against India, would surely evoke memories of a partisan Edgbaston. Ali now gets to do it all again.
The right-arm fast bowler has agreed a deal that will see him play the full Vitality Blast campaign, including any potential knockout games, and the LV= Insurance County Championship until the end of July.
“We were light last season so we’ve tried to plug that gap and get some proven quality in, which Hassan is,” Robinson added. “He’s done well in Test and international T20 cricket so to be able to get a player of his calibre is really exciting.
“He’s a good flat wicket bowler, because in Pakistan you have to be and you need to learn different skills. We’ll need to look after him and that’s our promise to the Pakistan Cricket Board, who gave us permission and sign an NOC to come.
“Subject to any dramas with the international schedule that we’re not expecting, we should have some continuity. We’ve got to get our expectation right, because when you sign a player of the quality you want him to play every single game and not kill him physically.
“But what we’ve got is a player with good pedigree and if we can keep him and all our bowlers fit then we’ve got some good options for all types of wickets. That’s what a coach and a captain wants.”
Ali is no stranger to English domestic cricket, having shined for Lancashire last season. The Punjab native impressed during the Red Rose’s opening six matches of the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship, including a titanic tussle with the Bears at Emirates Old Trafford.
For Robinson, that performance became a dress rehearsal.
“You watch overseas players at other counties and cricket at times can be quite gruelling,” the 56-year old concluded. “So, what you want is what the Lancashire players were saying about him and how well he fitted into their dressing room and how much he added to their team.
“You look for those players who stand up and keep running in for their club. Lancashire were pushing on that last day to try and beat us and he was running in with that desire to win a game and that’s what we’re buying into.”
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