Qais Ahmad, the Afghanistan legspinner, has signed a contract with Kent for the entire T20 Blast and two County Championship matches, contributing to his growing list of short-form cricket teams around the world.
Last summer, Ahmad, 20, was set to join Gloucestershire as an international player, but his deal was terminated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, he will be playing county cricket for the first time.
He’ll also feature for Welsh Fire in the Hundred’s debut season after being retained ahead of the February re-draft. As a result, he will definitely remain in the UK until the Blast’s group stage concludes, and will be qualified for the knockout stages.
Last month, the club also signed Mohammad Amir for the second half of the season, though Heino Kuhn’s Kolpak status expired, and he is now registered as an overseas player. Counties are permitted to register three international players at once, but may only field two in a match.
After Rashid Khan (Sussex), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Middlesex), Mohammad Nabi (Northamptonshire), and Naveen-ul-Haq (Northamptonshire), Ahmad is the fifth Afghanistan player to sign a contract for this year’s Blast (Leicestershire).
Kent were beaten quarter-finalists in the Blast last year, and Ahmad’s signing suggests a change in strategy for the 2021 season. Last summer, they mostly used Imran Qayyum as a frontline spinner alongside Joe Denly’s part-time legbreaks, but they could now go with a spin-heavy lineup this year.
Ahmad is also expected to play in Kent’s final two games of the Championship’s first group round, against Lancashire at Old Trafford and Sussex at Beckenham. They will be his first first-class games since making his Test debut against Bangladesh in September 2019, and he will be the first Afghan player to play in the Championship if he was picked.
“I’m just looking forward to playing in the Vitality Blast and becoming a Kent Spitfire,” he said. “Having played alongside Daniel Bell-Drummond at Colombo Kings, I have learned positive things about Kent and I will give it my all.”
The club’s director of cricket, Paul Downton, said: “Qais Ahmad is a promising young player who has already proven himself in top-tier leagues around the world. I am sure that his passion for the game will make him a fan favourite among our members and supporters as we work to reintroduce live cricket to the public.”