Hassan Ali has revealed he turned down offers from other First Class counties in order to return to his “second home” Edgbaston.
Ali’s pace, passion and personality established him as a fans’ favourite, on and off the field, during his three-month spell with the Bears last season.
The right-arm quick took 33 wickets – 24 in the LV= Insurance County Championship and nine in the Vitality Blast – having slotted seamlessly into the squad.
He’s set to rejoin his Bears teammates ahead of the season curtain-raiser at home to Worcestershire on 5 April.
And the 29-year-old said that, despite interest for his signature from rival clubs, there was only one place he wanted to play in England.
Speaking from Lahore, Pakistan, ahead of training with the Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League, he said: “Edgbaston is my second home. Three counties made offers for me but if I’m going to play in the County Championship, my priority is Warwickshire.
“I like Birmingham. I have great memories of Edgbaston. The people are so nice, welcoming and I have a really good relationship with all the players and management.
“I want to thank Gavin (Larsen) and Robbo (Mark Robinson) for putting their trust in me and wanting me to come back. I want to reward their trust with my best performances and lots of wickets. I’m very pleased to be back as a Bear and Edgbaston which is a beautiful stadium.”
Hassan’s contract covers Warwickshire and Bears fixtures in the LV= Insurance County Championship and Vitality Blast until the end of July, with the option to return for the red ball run-in and Vitality Blast Finals Day in September.
He was awarded his White Bear cap ahead of his last Bears Vitality Blast game at Trent Bridge on 31 May last year before joining Pakistan on a tour of Sri Lanka.
A call-up to Pakistan’s ODI World Cup squad in India – where he took 9 wickets, including a four-fer vs Sri Lanka – was then followed by a Test series in Australia.
“It’s been a busy year…I’ve played cricket for 11 of the 12 months,” added Hassan. “I can’t complain though as I’m so proud to be back in the Pakistan side.
“When the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) called to say I was in the Sri Lanka tour I told Robbo, he was a bit sad but also so happy as he knows how much it meant for me. I’m lucky that I’m getting more chances.
“Pakistan play an IT20 against England at Edgbaston in May, so I could be playing for my first home in the stadium of my second home!
“The Bears played very well as a team last season. We have a good side, a balanced side with players like Hain Train, Mr Consistent Sam Hain, very promising players like Dan Mousley, Bethell and Yatesy, and older players like Rushy bhai and Olly the Long Fellow.
“I’m hoping we can make it to the finals and lift a trophy in the Championship or T20 Blast.”
Hassan has promised fans more impassioned celebrations like his charge across the outfield that greeted his match-winning wicket against Kent in the first home game of 2023 – and which first endeared him to members.
He added: “The fans are my family. I want to make them happy and entertain them. I enjoy going upstairs after a game to speak to the members. They are giving us their precious time, we’re playing for them, they’re supporting us, sometimes sitting all day to watch.
“Maybe I will run again to the stand and celebrate in front of the Bears fans. People like that celebration.
“I have my trademark celebration (the explosion) and some people have said I should try something else. But that’s my trademark…and I’m hoping Bears fans will see me do it plenty of times this season.”
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