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County embark on Abu Dhabi tour
Updated 12:55pm Wednesday 5th March 2014 in Sport
WORCESTERSHIRE jet off to Abu Dhabi for their pre-season tour tonight where they will face warm-up games against New Zealand, Ireland, the Netherlands and Derbyshire.
Steve Rhodes’ men will play T20 matches against all of the international sides, while they will take on Derbyshire in a two-day and a one-day red ball matches, as well as 50-over and T20 clashes.
The County face an action-packed itinerary which will see them play nine matches in various formats in the space of nine days in the Gulf state.
New Road chief executive David Leatherdale is planning to meet with Saeed Ajmal’s Dubai-based agent during the trip to finialise the Pakistan off-spinner’s schedule as Worcestershire’s overseas player for 2014.
As it stands, spin wizard Ajmal will be with the County for the whole campaign apart from a mid-season window when he will fulfil his Caribbean Premier League (CPL) commitments.
Leatherdale added that Worcestershire are planning to recruit a second overseas player for the Blast T20 campaign, but who that player will also be available to fill in for Ajmal in all formats of the game during the CPL.
The former New Road all-rounder said: “We intend to have two overseas players for our Blast T20 campaign, while our second overseas player will take over from Saeed when he has to leave us.
“That way we will have an overseas player for the entirety of the season, as well as two for the Blast T20.
“Saeed is due to be away at the CPL from July 10 until August 14, but he has been named as an ambassador for the competition, so he may leave a couple of days earlier to be a part of the pre-tournament promotional work.
“He will miss the majority of our 50-over campaign and possibly three four-day matches, but we hope to have an overseas player to step in and replace him for that period.
“Hopefully, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Saeed should be available for around 75 per cent of our season.”
Leatherdale also revealed that the county have spoken to Pakistani left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan about joining the club for the Blast T20, but was quick to play down speculation it was a done deal.
It appears Junaid’s agent has contacted most English county sides and it appears the player’s future may lie away from New Road this summer.
Elsewhere, County all-rounder Moeen Ali will be hoping to build upon a solid start to his senior England career in today’s third One-Day International of the series with West Indies.
The two nations are tied at 1-1 ahead of the contest at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua (1.30pm GMT).
Moeen has featured in both of the first two matches, scoring 44 and 10 as well as taking 1-25 and 1-11 with his off-spin.