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 from Bradford has added his name to the long list of Headingley 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 turning out in Sydney and Jack Brooks has returned to Perth, while young seamer Ben Coad has been awarded a scholarship at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide.
Competition is hotting up to make the starting line-up for Yorkshire’s opening match in Division One of the County 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 in Australia.
The Lightcliffe player has called on the contacts of Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie, who has helped fix him up with cricket at the East Torrens District club in the Adelaide suburbs.
Ashraf hopes this will help him start the season strongly and force his way back into Yorkshire’s four-day side, having played only one championship match 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,” he said.
“I’ll be getting stronger out there by doing my gym work and just having a change of scenery. It will be very competitive cricket.”
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 in previous seasons,” he said.
“I haven’t actually started in the team in the last two or three years, and when I have had good campaigns I’ve come into the team midway 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.
“It’s going to be a challenge in the heat and the conditions and tough cricket but I’m excited for that challenge and I think it will help my cricket massively.”