Moin Ashraf has joined Yorkshire’s winter exodus to the Southern Hemisphere in an attempt to start the new season strongly and become an established first team player.
The 22-year-old seamer has added his name to the long list of other Yorkshire players who are supplementing their pre-season training by playing overseas this winter to try and boost their chances of success in county cricket.
Captain Andrew Gale, wicketkeeper Dan Hodgson and off-spinner Azeem Rafiq have all chosen to play in Melbourne, Jack Leaning is playing in Sydney, Jack Brooks has returned to Perth, while young seamer Ben Coad has been awarded a scholarship at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide.
As competition hots up to make the starting line-up for Yorkshire’s opening match in division one of the championship, starting at Taunton on April 13, Ashraf has responded to the challenge of breaking into that side by agreeing to his longest ever stint away from England with six weeks playing cricket in Australia.
He has called on the contacts of Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie, who has helped fix him up with cricket at East Torrens District in the Adelaide suburbs, which Ashraf hopes will help him start the season strongly and force his way back into Yorkshire’s championship side having played only one match in division one last summer.
“I’ve never been abroad for that period of time in pre-season before and I’m looking forward to getting some cricket, getting stronger out there by doing my gym work and just having a change of scenery – it will be very competitive cricket out there,” he explained.
“I was looking to play cricket overseas in Australia and my initial thought was maybe the Darren Lehmann Academy, but East Torrens came in and were happy to take me on and I’m looking forward to playing competitive cricket.”
The Yorkshire exodus has been fully endorsed by both Gillespie and Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, who believe playing tough cricket can only help their prospects for the coming summer.
Yorkshire were particularly keen for Ashraf to take advantage of the opportunity and perhaps help his performances at the start of the summer, where he has struggled in recent years to begin a new season strongly.
Although he was a consistent member of Yorkshire’s youthful YB40 line-up last summer, Ashraf’s only taste of championship action was the drawn match against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough in June.
“I’m honest enough to admit that I’ve been a notoriously slow starter because I haven’t actually started in the team in the last two or three seasons,” he said. “When I have had good seasons, I’ve come into the team mid-way through the summer.
“I’m hoping that the six weeks I spend in Adelaide and a further two weeks in Sri Lanka with the Yorkshire squad in pre-season will help me start strongly.”
Graham Stevenson funeral
THE funeral of former Yorkshire and England cricketer Graham Stevenson, who died last week aged 58, will take place on Friday, February 7.
A service will be held at St Cuthbert’s Church of England Church, Cross Hill, Ackworth, Pontefract at 9.50am, followed by a service at Pontefract Crematorium in Wakefield Road, Pontefract, at 10.40am.
The celebration of the all-rounder’s life will continue at the Frog & Moose pub in Ackworth.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Cancer Research UK or the Professional Cricketers Association Benevolent Fund.