Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shahzad seeks consistency to forge England career

England news

Shahzad seeks consistency to forge England career

Andrew Miller
April 20, 2011
Ajmal Shahzad
Ajmal Shahzad accepts that this season's battle for England fast-bowling places will be as tough as it has been for years, but believes he showed enough glimpses of his talent and tenacity during a long winter odyssey to keep himself firmly in the selector's thoughts ahead of the Sri Lanka series in May.
Shahzad was a key squad member throughout England's Ashes and World Cup campaigns. Although he did not play in the Tests in Australia, he pressed hard for selection throughout, and subsequently featured in seven of England's 14 ODIs, before a hamstring injury led to his omission for the team's crucial World Cup victory over West Indies. Surrey's Jade Dernbach replaced him in the 15-man party as the team went on to be beaten by ten wickets in the quarter-finals by Sri Lanka.
At the moment of victory in Chennai, after England had grafted their way back into the contest to beat West Indies by 18 runs and secure their progression to the last eight, Shahzad's face was a picture of mixed emotions, as he rose in the dressing room to celebrate with his team-mates, all the while knowing that he was heading for the next plane home.
"I was absolutely gutted," he told ESPNcricinfo during adidas's launch of the new England ODI kit. "I was so happy to be picked for England, so the disappointing thing for me was when I did get my chance, I got a little niggle. And I don't know if it was the pressure of the situation or the nervous anxiety, or whatever, but it's really disappointing, because that is the time I wanted to impress and show what I can do. I hope I've shown a little of what I'm capable of doing, but I feel as if there's plenty more to show, and if I ever get given the chance again, I want to stay injury free, fingers crossed."
He is on the mend now, with a return to action anticipated for Yorkshire's CB40 match against the Netherlands on Sunday, but Shahzad's the first to admit he has some ground to make up. The trio of quick bowlers who finished the Ashes campaign - James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan - are set to be joined in the selection mix by Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, who has started the season impressively with Middlesex, while the likes of Warwickshire's Chris Woakes and the fit-again Graham Onions have also made strong cases in the early weeks of the season.
"It's going to be very difficult," he conceded. "There are plenty bowlers vying for spots - not only guys in the set-up, but people in the county circuit who want to put their name in the hat. Then it's up to the selectors to pick me or not pick me. But the selectors know what I can do. I want to go back [to Yorkshire] and help the boys out, show that I've got all the skill levels, show a good level of consistency, and show I'm a very competent batsman as well. If I get a few runs as well, you never know."

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