LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said.
The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month. Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.
“The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches,” Azhar told his new county’s website. “I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county). “I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon.”
Azhar struggled during Pakistan’s three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan’s impressive victory over England at Lord’s. “Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali ‘s character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches,” said Somerset’s director of cricket, Andy Hurry.
“His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season. “I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club.”