Pakistan's Azhar Ali returns to Somerset for third stint

The 36-year-old batsman first joined Somerset in 2018 and returned the following season, during which he played a vital role in Somerset's Royal London Cup success.

In his 17 First-Class matches for Somerset, Azhar has scored over 800 runs with a best of 125.   -  Getty Images

Former Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali will be returning to the Cooper Associates County Ground for a third stint with Somerset County Cricket Club (SCCC).

Azhar's return to Somerset is subjected to obtaining the appropriate visa and NOC. The 36-year-old batsman first joined Somerset in 2018 and returned the following season, during which he played a vital role in Somerset's Royal London Cup success.

"I am very excited to be returning to Somerset. It has become like a second home for me. It is a special Club and I hope that I can contribute to more success because the Members, staff and supporters deserve it," said Azhar in a statement. "I have been made to feel so welcome in my previous times with the Club and I look forward to representing the County again this year," he added.

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In his 17 First-Class matches for the club, Azhar scored over 800 runs with a best of 125. He was also presented with his County Cap by Marcus Trescothick in 2019. He will be available for at least three of Somerset's remaining County Championship matches and, subject to qualification, the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord's.

"Azhar Ali is a class act, both on and off the field. His performances speak for themselves, but what people don't see is the amount of time he is happy to devote to working with the younger players throughout the squad," said Somerset Director of Cricket, Andy Hurry.

England batsman Stoneman joins Middlesex

Middlesex Cricket has announced that England batsman Mark Stoneman will join the Club on loan and will be available for the team's final four County Championship matches of this season. Stoneman has agreed terms on a three-year deal to represent the Club in all forms of the game from next season onwards. The English batsman joins Middlesex from Surrey, having played at the Oval for the last five seasons, after moving to the capital in 2017 from his home county of Durham, where he played for a decade.

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"Mark brings a wealth of experience from the cricket side of things, and it will be great to use that experience to drive our young batsmen forward," Stuart Law, the Middlesex head coach, said in a statement.

Stoneman has 31 career tons to his name, 24 scored in the first-class game and seven in List-A cricket, the last of which came on Tuesday in his final appearance for Surrey. He has amassed over 16,000 runs in his career to date.

In 2017 he made his Test debut for England, against the West Indies at Edgbaston, which was the first of eleven appearances he has made as a Test opener for his country.

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