Monty Panesar’s career has been eventful to say the least since his departure from Northamptonshire in 2009.
Following his shock release by Sussex for urinating on bouncers in Brighton nightclub, Panesar was linked with a move back to Wantage Road, but the Steelbacks’ bowling attack thrives while Muhammad Azharullah remains in such fine form.
The Pakistani fast-bowler excelled in his first season at the County Ground and has been rewarded with a new two-year-deal. Azharullah arrived in England as an unknown, having waited three years to gain UK citizenship and qualify to play county cricket, but he made his debut season one to remember by helping his side to T20 glory and an impressive run in YB40.
The 29-year-old finished as the club’s leading wicket taker in the shorter forms of the game, including 27 dismissals in the T20 Cup. While Panesar eventually opted for Essex and subsequently made his debut against Northants, the Steelbacks have proven they can cope perfectly well without him.
Essex’s strict coaching has turned Panesar’s troubled year around and he has been selected in England’s Ashes squad for the winter tour of Australia, but Northants do not give the impression that they have missed out as Azharullah has become one of the hottest bowling properties on the block.
Azharullah was initially signed on just a one-year-deal with the intention of review depending on how the season went, but his performances this season left the club in no doubt as to whether to extend his contract.
He has become a part of one of the healthiest attacks in the county game alongside David Willey, James Middlebrook and Andrew Hall, who has claimed seven wickets in the ongoing match against Worcestershire. Azharullah seems best suited to white ball cricket and while he is yet to feature for his country, he is slowly but surely becoming one of the most talked about seamers in the domestic game.
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