Worcestershire newcomer Kashif Ali has spoken of his pride in becoming the first graduate of the South Asian Cricket Academy to sign for a First Class county.
Kashif has put pen to paper on a contract until the end of the 2022 campaign after a successful trial period at New Road.
He hopes his example, and being given the opportunity by Worcestershire, will act as an inspiration to other members of the SACA.
The Academy aims to reverse the current trend, which sees over 30% of recreational cricketers in England and Wales classified as British Asians but drops to less than 5% in the men’s professional game.
It is Kashif’s first-ever professional contract in England and a reward for the hard work, determination and faith in his own ability to earn a chance.
Worcestershire were the first professional side to play against the SACA with a two-day Seconds game at Stratford at the start of the 2022 season.
Kashif, who scored a half-century in that game, said: “I think the SACSA is very important, and it gives a lot of insight into what it is like to be a professional cricketer.
“Also, it gives an opportunity to play against some very good professionals and the chance to showcase their talent against them. It is a really big opportunity.
“I am very proud to be the first graduate to sign for a First Class county and very pleased for the opportunity Worcestershire gave me, and I hope I can contribute a lot to the team.
“I hope myself getting a contract will inspire other people on the SACA.”
Kashif has already played two Vitality Blast games for Worcestershire Rapids and top-scored with 24 in last Friday’s encounter with Leicestershire Foxes at the Uptonsteel County Ground.