Yorkshire have secured the services of Ajaz Patel for the final two Specsavers County Championship fixtures of the season.
The 30-year-old will play in the White Rose county’s home clash with newly-promoted Kent at Emerald Headingley (September 16), before travelling to Edgbaston for the final game of the season against Warwickshire. Patel replaces fellow left-armer Keshav Maharaj, who enjoyed a highly-productive spell with the Club and his final outing will be at Taunton against leaders Somerset, starting September 10. He took 28 wickets in just four red-ball appearances for Yorkshire, at an average of 19.39, including a contribution of 235 runs with the bat.
Patel is scheduled to arrive in the UK and link up with his new team-mates on September 12, wearing shirt number 26.
“I came over to play at Cranleigh CC this winter, hopefully with the opportunity to pick up some county cricket while I was over here,” he told yorkshireccc.com. “But I obviously got called into the New Zealand squad for the Sri Lanka Tests while I was over there. It all happened pretty quickly from there, I got the call and jumped at the opportunity really.
“It’s exciting and Yorkshire are in with a chance of winning another County Championship. It’s a club with a lot of history and one that’s been pretty successful in the championship in the past. I’m coming for two games and hope to contribute as much as I can and to try to do as much as I can to help Yorkshire into the best position to be able to win the competition as they approach the end of the season.
“I suppose the nature of professional cricket means you move around a lot and you contribute in different ways. Even with the New Zealand team, I was there for two Tests and I’m back home now and that was all sudden as well. You’re called in, on the plane and away you go. I’m playing two games, but you try and break it down and contribute as much as you can, one game at a time. You hope there’s a good result at the end of it. You just have to understand your role in the game at any given point. If there is assistance, I’ll do my best to try and attack and takes as many wickets as possible.”
As the overseas pro for the Cranleigh club he has taken 56 wickets, including seven five-wicket hauls and a best of 7-26. Cranleigh are top of the first division, which is the second tier of that competition.
He added: “I’ve been playing for Cranleigh this summer and I had a pretty good season for them and they’ve just been promoted to the Premier League and they’re also in the T20 Club competition semi-finals.
“I’ve got a lot of overs under my belt, which is great for a spinner. I’ve had a good tour of Sri Lanka, where I was quite successful in their conditions. Confidence-wise I’m feeling good and the ball is coming out really nicely and it’s about adapting to the conditions presented in the UK. It’s about adapting to the surfaces we’re playing on. The body is good, the ball is coming out of the hand nicely so yes, it’s about seeing what’s on offer on the day and playing it as I see it.
“It’s a great opportunity and something I’m looking forward to.”
Patel’s second five-wicket Test haul came just last month in Galle, nine months after his debut in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan.
Director of Cricket, Martyn Moxon added: “Ajaz has had a good last two or three seasons in domestic cricket and he’s currently in the New Zealand Test squad. We feel he’s well qualified to come in and be available for the last two games for us, when hopefully we can continue our push to finish as high as possible in the county championship.
“Kesh has been outstanding for us. With the bat as well. He’s put together some match-winning performances and has been a tremendous addition to our squad. We’re delighted with what he’s done for us.
“We want to finish as high in the county championship as possible; mathematically it’s possible that we can still win it and we want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity. We looked at the options to fill Kesh’s shoes and we think Ajaz is the best to do that.
“We’ve spoken to those that know him well and he has been one of the most consistent performers in domestic cricket and he has done well in Sri Lanka for New Zealand recently.”