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Worcestershire's Kashif Ali looking to continue his upward trajectory

Kashif Ali will be looking to continue his rapid elevation as part of Worcestershire’s Royal London Cup squad.

Worcestershire's Kashif Ali looking to continue his upward trajectory

The 24-year-old began the season as part of the newly founded South Asian Cricket Academy, trying to attract the interest of a first-class county.

But Worcestershire were already aware there may be some potential that could be unlocked at county level after some impressive performances last autumn in the Kashmir T20 Premier League.

Kashif scored a century in the semi-final and a fifty in the final and another half-century for SACA against Worcestershire Seconds in a pre-season game led to the offer of a trial at New Road.

Some promising performances in the seconds and the Vitality Blast earned him a deal until the end of the summer. But a golden run of three hundreds and four fifties in seven innings in the Second Eleven Championship cricket, plus a half century on his County Championship debut against Derbyshire led to Kashif signing a contract until September 2024.

Now he will be part of a squad looking to make amends in white ball cricket for a below-par campaign in the Blast, starting with today’s opener at home to Kent.

Bowling coach Alan Richardson, who will be overseeing the Blast campaign with second-team coach Kadeer Ali, said: “Kashif has worked really hard and trialled around a lot. He played some really good cricket last year in Pakistan in the T20 and that is where he first came to prominence with us.

“His white ball cricket stood out for us. He had an opportunity in the Blast playing in a side probably low on confidence and being put in situations that weren’t ideal, but he showed that he had got something about him.

“His second-team form has been outstanding, so he will be in and around for the 50 over competition and hopefully he will take the opportunities that are given to him.”

Kashmir-born Kashif, who moved to England at the age of 12, played for Kent’s academy, MCC Young Cricketers and Nottinghamshire seconds.

He said: “I always had that great determination never to give up, and always kept that faith in myself. I’ve done a lot of hard work behind the scenes and backed my ability.

“I know I’m going to play one of those eye-catching innings tand I’ve always had a strong belief in myself that I’m good enough.

“As a cricketer, it is important you are confident and you back your ability, because in cricket there are more bad days than good days. But if you know you’ve got the ability and train hard, nothing is impossible. I’m so grateful for Worcestershire for this chance and hopefully we can do well now in the Royal London Cup.”

Kashif had no formal coaching as a youngster and instead learnt from watching top players such as Joe Root and Mohammad Yousuf on YouTube.

He said: “I watched a lot of players play in different matches and it was very beneficial, I observed things pretty quickly.

“Growing up, I followed Mohammad Yousuf quite a lot, and also Joe Root and Shoaib Malik, people who are very consistent in their performances. When I got into the MCC Young Cricketers, that was when I had the coaches to help with my batting.”

He did not play his first game until the age of 15 for Dunstable CC and was in those days primarily a pace bowler who batted at 11 until injuries forced a change of plan.

Richardson is looking for Worcestershire to bounce back from their disappointing Blast campaign.

He said: “We are going to have to use the T20 as a learning experience and we’ve got a chance to play some more white-ball cricket straight away in 50 overs. It’s a different format but essentially the basics are the same.”

Richardson and Kadeer Ali are at the helm as Head Coach Alex Gidman is part of Birmingham Phoenix’s coaching set-up in The Hundred.

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