Cricket: Star import won't join Aces lineup

By David Leggat

The Auckland Aces batsman Azhar Mahmood. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Auckland Aces batsman Azhar Mahmood. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland's super successful T20 import, Pakistani Azhar Mahmood, won't be part of this summer's campaign.

Mahmood, 37, averaged 41.37 in last season's HRV Cup triumph and was a fine contributor to their Champions League run in South Africa recently. He averaged 53.33 at a strike rate of 126.98 and finished second best on the bowling list with 10 wickets at 11.6 and an economy rate of 6.44.

Auckland had been negotiating with Mahmood for several weeks but have been unable to secure his services for their attempt at a third straight cup title.

Mahmood, who has become a T20 gun for hire after ending his 11-year international career five years ago, was mentioned in connection with alleged match fixing during the Sri Lankan Premier League this year by a media manager from the Dhaka Gladiators, but Auckland Cricket's chief executive was emphatic that had no influence on their decision.

"It had nothing whatsoever to do with our decision in terms of recruiting for the summer," Mark Cameron said yesterday.

"He's been a terrific player for Auckland both in the HRV Cup and the Champions League.

"We are extremely respectful and indebted to Azhar in terms of his performances over the last 12 months."

Auckland are considering their options for a second overseas import.

Quality Australian batsman Brad Hodge, another player who pops up around the T20 global circuit, has been signed for Auckland's opening game against Wellington in the capital tomorrow night; regular fixture Andre Adams is contracted for the entire competition.

- NZ Herald

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