Worcestershire’s Kashif Ali bats with Harry Brook-like flamboyance to hit maiden first-class century

Kashif Ali (R) – Worcestershire's Kashif Ali bats with Harry Brook-like flamboyance to hit maiden first-class century
Kashif Ali (right) hits his second century as Worcestershire dominate at Egbaston - Getty Images/Michael Steele

On another day which served as a reminder why county cricket used to begin in early May not April, Harry Brook was again denied his first chance to bat in a competitive game this calendar year, but a 26 year-old born in Kashmir, Kashif Ali, batted with Brook-like flamboyance in scoring his second century of Worcestershire’s game against Warwickshire. It was Kashif’s first game in Division One, and he had never made a hundred before in his eight previous first-class matches.

Kashif earned himself the new nickname of Cash-in as he followed up his first innings of 110 off 188 balls with 133 off 127 balls. The only previous Worcestershire batsman to score a century in each innings against their biggest rivals was Glenn Turner, the single New Zealander to score a century of first-class centuries.

What made Kashif’s batting so Brook-like was his reaction to the first ball of a bowler’s spell. When the left-arm spinner Danny Briggs came on, Kashif drove his first ball – of full length – for a straight six. Briggs reacted by dragging the ball shorter and wider, meat and drink on a slow pitch.

Kashif Ali – Worcestershire's Kashif Ali bats with Harry Brook-like flamboyance to hit maiden first-class century
Kashif Ali helped build a potentially match-winning lead against Warwickshire - Getty Images/Michael Steele

When Warwickshire’s debutant pace bowler Michael Booth, born in Zimbabwe, came back for his second spell and dropped short, Kashif swivelled and pulled his first ball for six. Booth was sharp enough to hit Kashif on the helmet when he had scored 81 but the batsman recovered to greet Ed Barnard’s first ball with a late cut for four. On 99 Kashif ran down the pitch and pulled another of his five sixes.

“There are only so many superlatives to describe his batting this weekend,” said Kashif’s partner Jake Libby in a stand of 200. “I think he made batting on that pitch look a lot easier than it is. It was a joy to watch from the other end. He made my job easy – I just got singles and watched him destroy them. I don’t think Warwickshire knew what to do at times.”

The talent scouts and coaches of five other counties failed to spot Kashif’s talent when he represented their second elevens, before he was signed by Worcestershire last season, and then it was more as a white-ball batsman: he hit 88 off 36 balls in a T20 Blast game. But Worcestershire have lost so many players to Nottinghamshire in recent seasons that Kashif was signed from the South Asian Cricket Academy, and given his chance to launch his county’s return to Division One.

As rain prevented the games at Durham and Derby starting at all for the third successive day, and limited Surrey’s at Old Trafford to 21 balls, the only other match likely to have a definite outcome is Nottinghamshire’s home contest against Essex. The main batsmen for Notts so far have been their former Worcestershire players, Joe Clarke and Jack Haynes, whereas Essex batted down the order to reach a lead of 289 with two wickets left. Paul Walter, having grown even more in stature during the winter as a T20 franchise allrounder, shared a stand of 132 for the sixth wicket with Matt Critchley.

For Somerset, who had omitted their new England spinner Shoaib Bashir, their 20 year-old wicketkeeper James Rew started more briskly than usual, with 57 off 60 balls against Kent, having scored the most hundreds (five) in Division One last season.