Signing an overseas professional can often be a gamble for an English league club. Some are successes, others are failures and then there is the occasional hidden gem, as Driffield Town CC have discovered this season.
During the past six months Pakistani Aamer Sajjad has exceeded the expectations of even the club’s most optimistic staff and supporters, with his hunger for run scoring and record breaking.
The stylish right-handed batsman has been in sensational form throughout the season for the Woldsmen and finished with a man-of-the-match performance as his side beat Barnsley to win the Yorkshire League knock-out Cup on Sunday, their first major trophy since joining the Yorkshire League 17 years ago.
Despite top scoring with 69 in the final success, Sajjad’s biggest achievements this season have come in the league. His 1570 runs not only topped this year’s run charts but also broke the previous ECB Yorkshire League record of 1542 set in 2009 by Australian Dan Wilson for York CC.
As well as breaking the Yorkshire League record, Sajjad also holds the accolade of scoring more runs in 2012 than any other batsmen across all of the 26 ECB Premier Leagues in the country, beating York’s Duncan Snell (1078 runs) and Kendal’s former New Zealand international Jamie How (1060 runs) into second and third places respectably.
His stats for the season have been outstanding. In 27 league outings Sajjad has scored 1570 runs at an average of 71.36, with six fifties and six hundreds as Driffield improved their recent league form dramatically to eventually finish sixth in the 14 team league.
The 31-year-old joined Driffield in April replacing last season’s overseas pro – Sri Lankan batsman Sanjaya Rodrigo, who had disappointed with just four half centuries.
Driffield’s selection of overseas players have by enlarge been successful over the past decade, with Sajjad following fellow countryman Mohammed Zaman (03/04) and former Sri Lankan Test bowler Ishara Amerasinghe (05/06) into a successful spell with the club.
Sajjad, who represented the Pakistan A side just two years ago, certainly came to East Yorkshire with good pedigree, in 94 first-class matches back in his home country, he has scored 5744 runs at 42.23 with 12 hundreds. This included a double hundred in his last first-class appearance for Punjab in February.
Before Sajjad heads back to Lahore on Wednesday he hopes to hold talks with the club over prolonging his stay at Kings Mill Road for next season, speaking to the Driffield Times and Post he expressed his willingness to return: “I’m hoping to come back, I am very happy here. Everybody is great – my team, my management they are very good and they look after me. I am enjoying it. It’s a small town but I am enjoying it.”
Driffield will certainly hope that Sajjad commits to their cause for next season, as they seek to challenge the dominate York for the Yorkshire League title.