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Kent spinner Imran Qayyum says being given his First-Class debut against Northamptonshire was a dream come true

By Mark Stokes

Imran Qayyum celebrates his 23rd birthday on Monday but says he has already received
the best present he could have wished for.

Qayyum says being handed his First-Class debut in Kent’s Specsavers County Championship Division 2 match against Northamptonshire just weeks after being awarded his 2nd XI cap was a dream come true.

The 6ft tall slow left-armer was given his chance at Wantage Road last week due to the absence of Adam Riley (side strain) and James Tredwell (unavailable) but only found out he was playing on the first morning of the match.

Imran Qayyum Picture: Barry Goodwin
Imran Qayyum Picture: Barry Goodwin

He said: “When I received my 2nd XI cap (last month) I said to myself ‘I’m happy but not ecstatic.’ The most important thing is playing First-Class cricket.

“Obviously, they (skipper Sam Northeast and the coaches) wanted to judge the conditions (before naming the team) but having seen the wicket, I had an inkling.

“I only knew for certain I was playing an hour or two before the start when Sam said ‘You’ll be in’ and wished me good luck.

“I don’t think there could be a better birthday present – this is good enough for me because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here but I know it’s only the first step.”

Qayyum was thrown the ball as early as the seventh over and finished Monday with respectable figures of 18-4-52-0 and an economy rate of 2.88.

He claimed his first wicket, in his 22nd over on Tuesday, when he had Josh Cobb caught at slip by Darren Stevens for 40 and went onto finish with first innings figures of
41.2-6-158-3 (economy rate 3.82).

The Ealing-born bowler,who was watched by his dad, brother and uncles, said: “When I was about to start my spell I was a bit nervous, especially with my family staring down on me but after I’d bowled the first few overs, I started to settle
down.

“I’ve been working hard on being accurate from the start and not bowling any looseners.
“On that sort of wicket it was a case of plugging away and waiting for them to make mistakes.”

Qayyum said spending three weeks in Cape Town during the spring had helped him ahead of the season and claimed much of his development was down to the work he has done with Kent spin coach Min Patel, who he regards as a mentor.

The youngster, who has previously worked under Mushtaq Ahmed, also revealed he planned to pick the brains of Northants’ returning England spinner Monty Panesar after the
game.

He added: “I definitely plan to speak to him , I would not want to miss a chance like that.
“He’s a world class Test bowler with 700 First-Class wickets and it would almost be a crime not to speak to him.”

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