Shahzad targets improved year
Ajmal Shahzad has set his sights on a successful season with Yorkshire as they prepare for life in Division Two.
Last Updated: 29/03/12 4:52pm
Yorkshire pace bowler Ajmal Shahzad has set his sights on a successful and injury-free season with the White Rose county as they prepare for life in Division Two of the LV=County Championship.
Shahzad played through the pain barrier last summer as an ankle injury restricted his influence on a season which saw Yorkshire relegated from the top-flight.
But, after surgery on the problem, Shahzad is confident of an improved season this time around as Yorkshire look to bounce straight back to Division One under revamped Yorkshire management with Jason Gillespie first-team coach and Martyn Moxon director of cricket.
Speaking on a disappointing season for both himself and the club, he said: "I've got my reasons for why it was so tough personally. Everyone knew that was the case with my ankle.
"If they didn't think I was fit to play then I shouldn't be on the pitch. But obviously people thought I was, and I kept playing.
"I was in a lot of pain, but just kept playing through it - because I wanted to do the best I possibly could.
"In hindsight, I could have probably taken that time and got it checked out."
Shahzad, 26, is currently on the final year of his contract with Yorkshire, who kick-off their 2012 campaign with a home fixture against Kent on April 5-8.
And the right-arm seamer admits this season could be a defining one in terms of his career.
"I'm at the end of a three year contract with Yorkshire. My personal ambition is to do well this season, and hope to get another contract offer - and put some hard graft in," he added.
"I think we're all looking forward to a very strong season."
Shahzad began 2011 as a member of England's Test squad in Australia and then the World Cup.
He was recently invited back to bowl at England's limited-overs specialists in the nets in the United Arab Emirates as they prepared for their victories there against Pakistan. But at 26, he knows there is much ground to be regained.
"I feel as if I'm starting at the beginning again. England, and people around the world, know what I'm capable of doing.
"I need to go and play for Yorkshire now, put in some good performances. Then I'll just be like any other player on the county circuit. If the opportunity comes then I'm there to get picked.
"I don't see myself at any other level than anybody else. If the opportunity arises and England need me, they know what I can do and where I am."