Shafayat fits the Bil for Hampshire

Hampshire batsman Bilal Shafayat after making 93 against Derbyshire    Picture: Neil Marshall
Hampshire batsman Bilal Shafayat after making 93 against Derbyshire Picture: Neil Marshall
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Bilal Shafayat has given Hampshire a positive selection headache ahead of their trip to Yorkshire.

The former Nottinghamshire man cracked 93 on his debut in last week’s draw with Derbyshire, having been promoted into the first team after a lengthy stint in the seconds.

And after sharing a productive partnership with Jimmy Adams, the skipper believes the 27-year-old Shafayat has done everything in his power to earn a place for tomorrow’s Championship clash at Headingley.

Adams said: ‘He can’t do any more than that.

‘It gives us a few good headaches and it gives us some tough decisions for this week.

‘Bil has scored buckets of runs for the seconds. I’ve played against him a lot over the years and he has shown he is a very, very good player.

‘He got his chance and took his form into the game. He looks like he is very happy within himself and with his game.

‘He’s a wee bit older and knows his game inside and out but he showed that with the way he played.

‘I thought he batted magnificently against Derbyshire.’

While Shafayat has been off the radar for a couple of years after his release from Trent Bridge, he did get an opportunity for Northamptonshire last term in the Friends Life t20.

Although the batsman admits things did not work out as he hoped, he returned to the Ageas Bowl this season to play second-team cricket in a bid to earn a contract.

And it now appears Shafayat’s patience has paid off as he looks set for selection once again.

He said: ‘I knew if I was doing the right thing and looked after my own game, something would come along.

‘Hampshire had a full squad last year, I then got a deal with Northants but I only played in the t20 and it didn’t work out for me.

‘I went away in the winter and it has kept me in good nick.

‘I’m still not quite there yet in terms of where I want to be to secure myself in professional cricket.

‘The past year and a half has been tough but I prepared for it.

‘But this is a lovely place to be, there are some great people around and plenty of players I can learn from.

‘I’ve been badgering Simon Katich already so if I can help in any way while I’m here, then I will be more than happy.’

While Hampshire’s batting has been bolstered, opponents Yorkshire could be without the prolific Jonny Bairstow who was called into the England Test squad for this week’s clash with West Indies.

But team-mate Joe Root struck a century for England Lions last week, while Phil Jaques already has two centuries to his name this season.