Ashar Zaidi: All-rounder hopes to seize Sussex chance
Ashar Zaidi hopes to make the most of his opportunity after being handed a surprise Championship debut for Sussex.
The 32-year-old Lancashire League professional was named in the side to play Yorkshire following a trial.
The Pakistan-born all-rounder told BBC Sussex: "It is a dream debut for me, having come in and then playing for a county club. It's pretty special.
"I am taking the opportunity with both hands as that is what a professional career is all about."
Zaidi, who bowls left-arm spin, holds a British passport and has spent the last three years playing for Accrington Cricket Club.
He broke a 54-year-old club batting record this season by scoring 1,446 runs at an average of 68.50, and also took 79 wickets at an average of 13.50.
Zaidi, who has previously played 88 first-class matches for Islamabad, wrote to several counties asking for a trial.
Sussex replied and, after scoring an unbeaten 192 and recording match figures of 6-24 in a second XI game against Durham, he was handed a place in the County Championship side.
He scored 17 runs in Sussex's first innings on day one and took his first wicket for the county when he had Yorkshire's Adam Lyth caught for 93 by England's Matt Prior on the second day at Hove.
"I was having a good season for Accrington in the Lancashire League, scored a few runs and got a few wickets," he said.
"I thought I could go a step further and play for a county. I applied for trials with all the counties but Sussex were the first to come up with a trial game.
"I am really thankful Sussex came back to me straight away and gave me an opportunity to be a part of this amazing club. It is such a good set-up."
Sussex are currently looking for a replacement for England spinner Monty Panesar and Zaidi is confident he is capable of performing at county level.
"It depends on your fitness, what form you are in and your mental approach," he said.
"As I have been playing as a professional for such a long time I can see myself settling into this. I feel I have a few years in me to play for a county and deliver my goods.
"I played for the second XI, so I had that taste of what might be coming in the future.
"We'll take it game-by-game and see what the coaching staff say about it. It's up to them."