HOT PROSPECT Afaq Babar is hoping this could be his year to earn a contract at Northants.
The Old Northamptonians bowler took eight for 32 last weekend as his side hammered Wellingborough Town in the NCL Premier Division.
The 20-year-old’s performances will have set pulses racing at Northants, where Babar currently turns out for the second team.
He has taken plenty of wickets for the county second string this season and is highly thought of at Wantage Road.
And Babar is now desperate for his recent exploits with club and county to pay dividends as he aims to turn pro.
“This is my year to show what I can do,” said Babar. “I’ve been getting wickets for the Northants second team and my aim is to get a contract with them.
“I’ve just got to see what they say to me and I’m hoping I will get something at the end of this season.
“Rips (Northants interim head coach David Ripley) has just said to me to keep going. He’s known me since I was young and he was the one who called me back when I was 18 so he’s shown faith in me.”
Babar does have a plan B should things not work out for him at Northants.
The former Weston Favell Academy pupil studied finance and accounting at Northampton University and he plans to return to that course should he not earn a professional deal.
But that remains very much second choice for Babar, who is working night and day to make his cricket dream come true.
“I train every day and I want to get a contract but I did do the course at University and if things don’t work out I would go back to it.
“I need to earn some money at some point so we will just see how things go.”
Babar has been inspired by his father Zed, who is a local cricket stalwart, representing Doddridge in the Town League and Desborough and ONs among others in the NCL.
Zed has taken an eight-for for the Billing Road side before but Afaq’s showing against Wellingborough last weekend eclipsed that.
“I’d never taken an eight-for before,” said Afaq. “My dad did but he went for a few more runs.
“He’s been playing all his life and he’s taken a lot of wickets as well. I learned most things from him.
“He gives me loads of advice and without the support of my dad and my family I wouldn’t be able to play cricket as much as I do.”