Hassan Ali is home. Again.
Having arrived following a stint with Lancashire in 2022, Ali came with the expectation to add pace to Warwickshire’s attack.
He did more than that. Small in stature, Hassan showed his big heart, impressing the Members, not only with his wicket-taking ability with a red and white ball but his infectious personality.
It seems a match made in heaven. Once signed, Hass was quick to label Edgbaston as his ‘second home’ and a place ‘that didn’t feel like I’m playing in another country or another franchise’.
A welcoming dressing room is a strong one and the 29-year-old will be desperate to follow on from a 2023 campaign that saw 33 wickets spread across the LV= Insurance County Championship and Vitality Blast.
A member of Pakistan’s T20 side, Hass is likely to feature in next summer’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup held in the Caribbean and USA, but the Members will have ample opportunity to see the seamer in action.
The contract covers Warwickshire and Bears fixtures in the LV= Insurance County Championship and Vitality Blast until the end of July, with the option for Hassan to return for the red ball run-in and Vitality Blast Finals Day in September.
Hopefully, he’ll be lifting a trophy too.
Ahead of his return, we sifted through Hassan’s performances last year, picking out the highlights from an impressive year.
Warwickshire v Kent (County Championship) – Edgbaston, 13-16 April 2023
One of the standout moments of 2023. Enduring a wet Somerset the week before, Warwickshire were keen to add a win to their promising start.
Losing the toss, Warwickshire showed no mercy, earning maximum batting bonus points as Sam Hain (165*), Rob Yates (128) and Dan Mousley (94) led the hosts to 453 for four before declaring.
Hassan led the bowling unit in Kent’s reply, taking three for 36, as the visitors mustered 158 in just 47.1 overs.
But with time against the Bears’ side, they had to dig deep. At 99 for seven, Ben Compton (88) and Joey Evison put on a hundred-partnership before the former was dismissed by Chris Rushworth. Connor McKerr offered impeccable resistance, 23 runs (102 balls, 118 minutes), before departing leaving the Bears needing one wicket in fading light.
Step forward Hassan who forced Evison, poised on 99, to edge one behind and ensure Warwickshire accrue a maximum 24 points.
The delivery was special, but so was the celebration, following his trademark move to run towards the South Stand and embrace with the Members.
A loving relationship started.
Warwickshire v Essex (County Championship) – Edgbaston, 11-13 May 2023
Hassan’s penultimate red ball match as a Bear was a cracker. Having endured a home defeat to Surrey, Mark Robinson’s side responded the best way.
Winning the toss and choosing to field, Warwickshire put Essex to the sword as they could only reach 126 from 41.3 overs.
In tough conditions, the Bears eventually pulled away from the visitors, having been 154 for eight in reply, with Hassan Ali showing the other side to his all-round talent.
Striking 53 not out (37 balls, four fours, four sixes), the hosts reached 242, taking control of the contest against one of the favourites to lift the Championship trophy.
Essex would add 215, with Hassan Ali taking four for 48 to add to his two for 31, and the Bears reached the winning total of 100 in less than two hours.
Bears v Worcestershire Rapids (Vitality Blast) – Edgbaston, 23 June 2023
Three days earlier, Hassan finished with two for 15 from four overs, as the Bears beat Durham in a nail-biter at Chester-le-Street. In most campaigns, this would have been given the nod, but his final two games were even more impressive.
The first, Derby Day at Edgbaston, Hassan would spend the first 86 minutes watching his teammates reach a mammoth 228 for four from their 20 overs.
Imposing total set, but a job still to be done, and the Bears did exactly that.
Dan Mousley would finish with four from 41, but Hassan bowled with poise and control, finishing with figures of two from 22, with nine dots and conceding just one boundary.
It was a big performance in a big moment.
Notts Outlaws v Bears (Vitality Blast) – Trent Bridge, 30 June 2023
Hassan’s final game. And unsurprisingly he rose to the occasion.
Receiving his White Bear Cap in the changing room, a match of epic proportion would follow.
Hass would take centre stage, dismissing Matt Carter and Tom Moores, plus a run out, to restrict the hosts to 168 all out and set an appetising target.
But his Pakistan teammate Shaheen Afridi had other ideas. The Bears, 7 for four after just one over, had the odds heavily stacked against them before Rob Yates’ fightback.
Rob would fall for 65, needing 34 from 29 balls, but Jake Lintott and Henry Brookes would seal the deal with five balls remaining.
Hassan’s last involvement as a Bear would be a straight drive down the ground for four off Imad Wasim. Onlookers suggested when leaving the stadium that that was the shot that switched the momentum…
2024 Membership: Together, we are Bears
Membership will once again be the best value way to access all home Warwickshire domestic cricket in 2024, plus a host of exclusive benefits including priority access to international tickets.
Split payments will be available, allowing you to spread the cost across three, six or nine monthly instalments.