31st March 2019
Azad Impresses on Foxes debut
Foxes debutant Hassan Azad admitted he had no idea he had written himself into history after he and Ateeq Javid broke the Foxes’ second-wicket partnership record in this week’s pre-season warm-up match against Loughborough MCCU.
Azad (139*) and Javid (143*) put together a stand of 309 before both were retired out on the second day of the match against the students, beating the previous record of 289, compiled by David Gower and Chris Balderstone against Essex at Grace Road in 1981.
“It’s amazing, I heard an announcement being made, and some applause, but didn’t realise what it was,” said the 25-year-old, who is himself still technically a student at Loughborough.
“It was an incredible experience, I didn’t know I was playing until the day before and it was a dream come true, to make my debut for Leicestershire and then to make it count. I’m just very grateful for the opportunity.”
Before enrolling at university Azad was on the books at Nottinghamshire, but was released before being given a first-class opportunity at Trent Bridge. He has played eight first-class matches for Loughborough – during one of which he made 99 against Notts before being caught behind off the bowling of Jake Ball – and last summer was handed a trial at the Fischer County Ground, where he impressed in second team cricket.
Having signed his first professional contract, the left-hander has now put himself firmly in line for a Specsavers County Championship debut when the Foxes travel down to Hove to begin their red ball campaign against Sussex next week.
“If selected, my method won’t change, I’ll play my game and look to occupy the crease as long as possible,” said Azad. “I’m a bit of an accumulator rather than a ‘basher’ so that would be my role wherever I ended up in the batting order.
“Red ball cricket is where I’ve mostly developed my game. I’m still learning about white ball batting, and my selling point is a capacity to bat for a long time.
“At 25 this is my first go with a county and at times I didn’t think it was going to happen.
“I’m so grateful to be given a chance. Chemical engineering might have to take a back seat for a while, because the plans are to be a cricketer as long as I can,” said Azad.
Azad faced 281 balls and hit 17 boundaries in his six-hour 20 minute innings, with Javid, whose century was his first since joining Leicestershire from Warwickshire two years ago, facing 326 deliveries.
*Hassan Azad is available for sponsorship during the 2019 season, for more information, please contact email@example.com or call 0116 245 2440.