Hishaam Khan grateful for chance to shine with Staffordshire

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Hishaam Khan

Hishaam Khan says he’s eager to repay the faith shown in him by Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr.

Khan, a left-arm seam bowling all-rounder, is a new face in the Staffs squad this summer after impressing during winter training.

The 24-year-old plays his club cricket for Rolleston in the Derbyshire County League – and has now linked up with the Staffordshire set-up.

He insists that he wants to grab the opportunity with both hands to further progress his career after help from Staffs batsman Zen Malik.

“It’s been good. When I came in I did so with an open mind because I didn’t have any NCCA experience,” said Khan.

“From the first session I could tell what a good set up Staffs is. It’s such a professional environment. I knew that I wanted to be involved and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

“Me and Zen (Malik) were in Pakistan last year. I played with him for SACA (South Asian Cricket Academy) and we have trialed around.

“I spoke to him about potentially playing for Staffs and he explained the system about only being allowed to have three outsiders in the team.

“At the time I was playing in the Bradford League, but this year I have signed for Rolleston. Zen said that fell within the catchment area for Staffs, so we talked to Carri (Andy Carr) about the possibility of playing.

“After a few sessions, Carri said that he’d like me to be part of the squad.”

‘Second chance’

The weather has already affected Staffordshire’s schedule so far.

Four of their six NCCA Twenty20 Cup matches were washed out, with their only group action seeing them win one and lose one against Northumberland at Burslem.

However, after a reprieve due to Northumberland being removed from the competition, Staffs managed to sweep aside Hertfordshire and Norfolk at Norwich’s Manor Park last Sunday in the Super 12s stage. That has booked their place at finals day this weekend at Chester Boughton Hall.

“It’s good to be playing extra cricket and keeps me at the top of my game. The more I play, the better I will perform,” added Khan.

Andy Carr and Hishaam Khan
Hishaam Khan chats to Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr. Picture: Pete Stonier.

“It’s a tough one because the Cumbria game was called off and also the one at Checkley against Cheshire. That being said, the way we performed on Sunday, it didn’t look like we hadn’t played much.

“I was quite happy with how I bowled at Norwich. I’ve played a lot of red-ball cricket, but not so much white ball, so it was nice to be able to contribute.

“Ketts (James Kettleborough), Nils (Priestley) and Zen have been in great form and then there’s experience with the ball as well.

“Hurty (Liam Hurt) does what Hurty does, bowling quick. And he’s backed up by me, Rory (Haydon) and Sam (Atkinson) and then there’s spinners. We have so many options.”

‘Aiming high’

Over the years, Khan has featured for Leicestershire, Kent, Yorkshire and Warwickshire’s second teams.

He has ambitions to make the grade as a professional cricketer – and believes Staffs can help him to fulfil his dream,

“Ideally I would like to get a first-class contact,” explained Khan. “A few of the lads are in that position at Staffs – me, Zen, Atko, Rory and Nils. Carri is really supportive of us trying to get there.

“A lot of us have trailed and that helps me with the game and playing in this environment with Staffs is beneficial.

“Playing for Staffs has helped me to develop my game.

Staffordshire name squad for NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day

“The standard of NCCA cricket has surprised me. I was a bit naive coming in and didn’t know a lot about it. I play seconds cricket in the week and I think with the Staffs side right now we could compete at that level quite comfortably. I’ve heard about the win last year.”

Khan, who is also keen to feature in Staffordshire’s Championship team later in the summer, has another focus right now.

That’s helping Staffs to defend their T20 title this weekend in the finals day showpiece.

‘Tough test’

Staffordshire face Berkshire in the semi-final, while Cumbria and Oxfordshire kick off proceedings.

“Zen and Anis (Raza) have spoken to me about the win last year,” he revealed. “Hopefully we can perform to our best and beat a strong Berkshire side in the semi-finals and then look at the final.

“It’s going to be tough because the other sides are really good teams. But it would be nice to lift the silverware after only being in the squad for a couple of months.”

Main image: Hishaam Khan is eager to seize his chance with Staffordshire. Picture: Pete Stonier

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