Azhar Ali: Somerset seek replacement for Championship run-in

Azhar Ali
Azhar Ali last played for Somerset on 16 July, prior to the start of T20 Blast window

Somerset's overseas opener Azhar Ali will not return to the club, leaving the club to look for a replacement for the end of the Championship campaign.

Azhar, 34, has scored 344 runs so far this summer for Somerset, who are four points behind leaders Essex.

All of Pakistan's centrally contracted players have been recalled to take part in their first-class competition.

And Azhar has opted to go early to allow Somerset to register a replacement for the final three games.

The Pakistan Cricket Board's deadline for him to return would have meant him missing Somerset's final two games, against Hampshire and Essex.

But for a new player to be available for those matches, he would need to be registered by 6 September, four days before they start a game against Yorkshire.

"After discussing this with Azhar, he felt that the team's needs should come before his and he has therefore agreed to return to Pakistan early," said director of cricket Jason Kerr.

"This means that Azhar has played his last match for us this season. I know that I speak for everyone associated with the club when I say that he has been outstanding."

Somerset, who have never won the title, are back in Championship action on Sunday when they face Warwickshire at Edgbaston, with Azhar's compatriot Babar Azam in the side as a one-off.

Azhar with Somerset in 2019
ChampionshipOne-Day Cup
Matches911
Innings1611
Not-outs20
Runs344451
High score79110
Average24.5741
Strike-rate47.5879.96
50s/100s3/02/1
Catches38