OVERSEAS star Azhar Ali will be out in the middle for the Rapids in their Royal London One Day Cup campaign, New Road chiefs have revealed.
The Pakistan star initially joined Worcestershire to play red-ball cricket in the 2022 LV=Insurance County Championship and has been a big success.
He has now agreed to also be part of their squad for the 50-over competition throughout August in a huge boost to the Rapids’ hopes of glory.
The Rapids’ T20 Blast hopes were officially ended at the weekend following defeat to the Leicestershire Foxes and the abandonment of their live Sky game with the Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Saturday.
Azhar’s record in Test cricket is formidable, with more than 7,000 runs at an average of 43, but he also has a superb record in List A cricket for his country and at domestic level.
He has scored 6,278 runs at an average of 47.20 with 17 hundreds and 36 half-centuries.
His highest List A score came in January 2016 when he hit an unbeaten 132 for Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd versus Lahore Blues in the National One Day Cup in Pakistan.
“I’ve really enjoyed the first two-and-a-half months with Worcestershire and been delighted to contribute to a good start in the Championship,” he said.
“We have fought hard, gained a couple of wins and showed great determination to earn draws which are also important, and are in contention for the second half of the season.
“But I also love List A cricket and am delighted to be able to play the entire Royal London Cup campaign.
“The Rapids had some good victories in last year’s competition, including a magnificent performance to win at Essex.
“I hope I can play my part in helping them to do even better and qualify for the knockout stages, and then, who knows what can happen?
“There are some fine players in our squad, and we have the capabilities to do well.”
Cricket Steering Group chairman, Paul Pridgeon, said: “We are delighted Azhar has agreed to play in the Royal London Cup in addition to Championship cricket. His record in all forms of the game is outstanding, and having his skills and know-how to call upon in 50-over cricket can only be beneficial.
“Azhar has made a great impact on the field, helping with the development of people like Jack Haynes, but also in the dressing room. He has been everything you would want from an overseas player.”
The Rapids launch their eight-match Royal London Cup group campaign on Tuesday, August 2, against Kent at New Road.