All-rounder Sikandar Raza 'exactly' what Northants Steelbacks need for Vitality Blast

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Head coach John Sadler believes the Steelbacks have landed 'exactly what we need' in the signing of Zimbabwe T20 skipper Sikandar Raza for this summer's Vitality Blast.

The 37-year-old all-rounder was this week announced as the club's first overseas signing for the 2024 competition, and Sadler couldn't be happier to have recruited a player he declares is 'world-class'.

Raza will arrive at the County Ground for what will be his first stint in the Blast, but there are few more experienced T20 campaigners currently playing in world cricket.

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He has played in the Indian Premier League, and will again turn out Punjab Kings this season, the Pakistan Super League, the Caribbean Premier League, the Bangladesh Premier League and others.

Sikandar Raza will play for the Steelbacks in the 2024 Vitality Blast (Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images)Sikandar Raza will play for the Steelbacks in the 2024 Vitality Blast (Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Sikandar Raza will play for the Steelbacks in the 2024 Vitality Blast (Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images)

He has played a massive 283 T20 matches and counting, with 80 of them internationals for Zimbabwe, scoring more than 6,000 runs and claiming 175 wickets with his right-arm off-spin.

A right-handed big-hitting batter, he has smacked 41 half-centuries, and has a T20 career-best of four for eight with the ball, while taking the little matter of 121 catches.

Raza is also currently rated the fourth best all-rounder in the world in the latest ICC T20i rankings, ahead of the likes of Hardik Pandya, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali and Glenn Maxwell.

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And he has been named on the shortlist in the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year category, along with India’s Suryakumar Yadav, New Zealand’s Mark Chapman and Uganda’s Alpesh Ramjani.

Steelbacks head coach John Sadler (Picture: Peter Short)Steelbacks head coach John Sadler (Picture: Peter Short)
Steelbacks head coach John Sadler (Picture: Peter Short)

"I am delighted to have signed Sikandar," said Sadler. "He is three-dimensional, he bats in the top order, he bowls important overs, and he is a jet in the field.

"I have seen a lot of footage of him, and his attitude to play to win and his competitiveness is through the roof, which is great and what we want.

"He is also kind of hot property around the world in all the top global competitions at the minute.

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"He is available for the full competition, because Zimbabwe aren't at the World Cup, which is a big tick, and his numbers in the past 18 months, globally, beat anybody else's.

"So Sikandar is a world-class performer, he is very experienced, fit, competitive, his numbers have been outstanding, he fits exactly what we need and is a good signing for us."

The club is also on the lookout for a second overseas player for the Blast, with Australian batter Chris Lynn one of the options being considered for a return for a third season at the County Ground.

But no decision has yet been made.