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Shock as Shahzad makes Tykes exit
Ajmal Shahzad's Yorkshire career is over after he and the club sensationally parted ways with immediate effect yesterday.
The fast bowler, 26 years old and still on the fringes of the England set-up, will move from Headingley either permanently or on loan.
Although the prospect of a loan was mentioned in a club statement released last night, there is no doubt that Shahzad's long-term future lies with another county.
Having played in the first three County Championship fixtures this season, he has been replaced in a 12-man squad for today's clash with Leicestershire at Scarborough by Anthony McGrath.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of professional cricket, said: "There has been a lot of discussion over a period of time with Ajmal regarding his cricket, and it has been agreed that it is in the player's best interests that he pursues his career elsewhere."
There will be no shortage of takers for Shahzad, whose three-year contract was due to run out at the end of the current campaign.
When he signed it after a breakthrough 2009 season, which yielded 34 Championship wickets, the likes of Lancashire, Middlesex and Worcestershire were all interested.
The early favourites for his signature are Somerset, who are in the market for a player to strengthen a bowling attack decimated by injuries and IPL commitments.
Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves admitted he was "disappointed that Ajmal will be leaving as he is one of the bright prospects of England's fast bowlers".
And Shahzad said: "I would like to thank both the staff and supporters of Yorkshire for all the help and encouragement that I have received since I joined the staff, and wish the club lots of success in the coming years.
"I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my career, and hope to push for further honours within the game."
It is no secret that the last 13 months of Shahzad's White Rose career, which began in 2004, have been strained.
He struggled with injury and loss of form last summer, and was one of the players at the top of Graves' hit list when he famously slammed the squad after suffering Championship relegation.
Shahzad only took 25 Championship wickets and was found guilty of scuffing up the pitch during a match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
He publicly revealed his "shock" at Graves' comments as recently as late March.
He has played one Test match, eleven one-day and three Twenty20 internationals for England, the last of those coming in March last year.
Yorkshire do at least have a ready made replacement on the way in Australian Mitchell Starc, who begins a five-week spell with the county this the weekend.
Left-arm pace bowler Starc has just spent seven weeks with the Australian squad in the West Indies, and turned his back on a potential deal at the IPL in favour of a move to Headingley as their overseas.
The 22 year-old will make his Championship debut against Gloucestershire at Bristol next week.
"I was looking at a few options for our winter. There's IPL and all those sorts of things, which I was in the auction for," he said.
"I decided against it in the end because I thought the best thing for my game would be to go and develop in county cricket and play the longer forms of the game. With the Ashes coming up, it's a good chance for me to get some cricket in England.
"If I can help contribute to the lads there at Yorkshire and help get them back up into the first division, where they probably should be, I'll be very happy.
Starc is currently shaking off the effects of jet-lag in Sydney after an unenviable 56-hour journey home.
"It was Dominica to Barbados, Barbados to Miami, Miami to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Sydney," he added.
"I've got a couple of days at home to repack the bags and then get over to Yorkshire. I've just come off seven weeks in the Caribbean, where it's pretty warm. I'll be packing the woolies and hand-warmers for sure."
There is the option of extending Starc's deal, although Australia have a one-day tour of England between June 21 and July 10.
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