Kabir Ali’s “instant connection” with Headingley helped convince him that Yorkshire is the right place to continue his coaching journey.
The former England fast bowler is one of Ottis Gibson’s two new assistants, appointed last month alongside Ali Maiden and also new second-team coach Tom Smith.
Ali, 41, will spread his workload between the various Yorkshire squads, from the first team down to the Academy, while Gibson will do the day to day bowling coaching with the first team and Maiden the batting.
Ali captured 500 first-class wickets during a playing career which saw him play for Worcestershire, Hampshire, Lancashire and England.
Post retirement at the end of 2014, he has taken on a number of coaching assignments, including working in franchise cricket around the world.
He also recently took on a short-term consultancy role as Warwickshire’s bowling coach.
But this marks Ali’s first full-time coaching role in county cricket, and it comes at a venue where he made his Test and ODI debuts for England in 2003 as well as playing his last ODI in 2006.
“The fact I have an instant connection with Headingley is one of the things which attracted me to this job,” he said. “I always enjoyed playing against Yorkshire. I always felt I was in a battle, and I liked that. I also really like Leeds as a city.”
Of course, those reasons are bonuses in a way.
The main reason for applying for the role was a desire to help progress both Yorkshire as a county and himself as a young coach.
“The talent we have with the bowlers is brilliant – so far, so good,”he continued.
“We have a good mix of lads playing for England like Matthew Fisher and David Willey, experienced heads and young guys coming through. I’m really impressed and excited for what’s to come.”
Ali, Maiden and Smith are all at similar stages of their coaching journeys. Late thirties or early forties age wise – young in coaching terms – but still with plenty of experience.
“We’ve all played the game, so we have that behind us,” continued the Birmingham-born former seamer. “But my coaching experience is different to Tom’s and Ali’s, who have both come from Leicester. For myself, I’ve done a lot of franchise stuff.
“I’m hoping to be able to learn so much from their experiences and from Ottis as well.
“I’m a firm believer that you can never crack this game. It’s always moving on quickly. So we have to learn at the same pace as coaches. If you slack somewhere, you’ll miss the boat.”
Ali is excited by the varied nature of his role.
“I think it’s quite important as a coach that you’re working throughout the system,” he continued.
“You have to know what’s happening below the first team and who’s performing, etc. It’s a long season, and we are likely to need everyone at some point.
“It will also be really interesting to go into the Academy to see what we have coming through from there.”
Yorkshire are planning to have Pakistan seamer Haris Rauf available for the first batch of LV= Insurance County Championship games in April and May, prior to the start of the Vitality Blast.
A bowler who has made his name in white ball cricket, Rauf has only played four first-class matches in his career.
But his signing is an exciting one and, says Ali, hopefully crucial to success in 2022.
“He’ll bring in raw pace, which is incredibly exciting,” he added.
“I don’t know Haris personally, but it’s something I’m looking forward to doing.
“Watching him on TV, he just wants to bowl quick.
“There aren’t many out and out quicks around at the moment, so to have him around the experience and youth we already have in the squad, it puts us in a good place.
“He hasn’t played much four-day stuff, so we’ll have to manage his workloads a bit.
“But he’s coming in at an important part of the season. If we can start off on a high, you never know what can happen.”
Ali’s coaching experience includes a spell with Royal Challengers Bangalore, while he was also an incredibly skilful bowler who had success with the white ball. He helped Hampshire win the limited overs double in 2012, for example.
That experience could be a real asset for the Vikings’ hopes of winning a first piece of white ball silverware since 2002.
“Fingers crossed that knowledge can be put to good use,” he added. “I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the summer.”