Michael Edward Younger
b. 29th November 1951 in Corbridge, Northumberland.
LHB, SLA.
Northumberland 1974-94

Benwell Hill 1978-1995
HS: 132* v Percy Main (h) 1985
BB: 7-32 v Tynemouth (a) 1988
BHCC Career
330 inns, 73 not outs, 9762 runs @ 37.97, 9 – 100s & 64 50s
12256 runs conceded 766 wickets @ 16.00, 39 5wi.

One of the great locally born professional cricketers and a brilliant all round sportsman Michael/'Mike'/'Sam' Younger played for Benwell Hill from 1978 -1995. In those 18 seasons Mike scored 9,762 runs at an average of 37.97 and took 766 wicket at an average of 16. His forceful left handed batting scored a club record nine centuries and 64 half centuries whilst his clever slow left arm bowling took five wickets on 39 occasions. A brilliant fielder, Mike caught 108 catches and to complete the statistical profile Mike captained the club during four of those seasons 1982-83 and 1985-86.

Mike learned his cricket in the 'school of hard knocks' playing in the all-conquering Tynedale sides of the mid 1970's – in his early days he was a destructive hitter who bowled brisk medium pace. His talents were quickly recognised by Northumberland and a long and distinguished Minor Counties Career ensued including an extended period as County Captain. One of his proudest moments was to receive the Man of the Match Award in a Nat West Trophy game against an Middlesex side that included Mike Gatting, Phil Edmunds, John Emburey, Wayne Daniel etc. – an indication of just how good a player Mike Younger was.

In his 'other' life Mike was a teacher who worked for many years with children with special needs. Some might say this training helped in his duties as 'wor pro' as Mike was never less than unfailingly patient with cricketers of quixotic temperament and lesser ability. Mike's ready sense of humour was always well to the fore and some of his more famous sayings live on in club legend. Mike was often heard to refer to his 'old brown boots' and what he proposed to do to them after a slipshod piece of fielding whilst a future Club Captain was famously advised to remove a threepenny bit from a particular part of his anatomy as he pursued a ball in rather laboured fashion to the boundary.

In 1995 Mike played a final season for the Club as an amateur and he played a prominent part in winning the County Cup in a final against our old rivals Benwell. This victory marked the beginning of the Club's golden age in terms of winning trophies and it was fitting that Mike was part of that as he was never less than fiercely committed on the field of play.

 

Christiaan (Chris) Frans Craven
b. 6 December 1970 in Dundee, Natal.
RHB, RM.
Free State, Orange Free State

Benwell Hill 1995-6
HS: 86* v Morpeth (h) 1995
BB: 6-26 v Backworth (h) 1996
BHCC Career
41 Matches, 39 inns, 5 not outs, 1015 runs @ 29.85, 9 -50s & 10 cts.
1659 runs conceded, 117 wickets @ 14.18, 9 – 5wi.

In 1995 Benwell Hill took the decision to recruit an overseas professional. At the time this was a huge decision and a major departure from the past and it is fair to say that after years of suffering at the hands of various West Indian and Australian professional cricketers expectations were extremely high. After a lengthy and traumatic recruitment process the Club eventually signed South African Chris Craven who was a first class all round cricketer then playing for the Orange Free State alongside such names as Allan Donald and Hansie Cronje.

In the two years that followed Chris did the Benwell Hill double of 1015 runs and 117 wickets. His runs were scored at an average of 29.85 and his wickets were taken at an average of 14.18 – nine fifties were scored and on nine occasions Chris took five or more wickets in an innings. In the first year that Chris was pro the Club finished sixth in the League which was disappointing but cup performances were much improved and the County Cup was secured to end a long 'silverware drought'. In 1996, however, the 'holy grail' of League winning success was achieved on a memorable last day of the season at Blyth – the precursor to several more league championships over the next ten years.

Chris Craven was a ferocious competitor who gave his all on the field. He and we probably expected more of him in terms of runs scored but his bowling was never less than top class whilst his fielding was world class. Chris's never say die attitude rubbed off on old and young players alike and his influence as a cricketer lasted far longer than the two seasons he was with the Club.

An ankle injury eventually ended Chris Craven's career prematurely and he now earns a living in the financial services industry in Cape Town.

 

Gareth Sam Katz
b. 4 July 1971 in Pietermaritzberg, Natal.
LHB, RM.
Son of GA Katz (Natal & Natal B 1968-75)
Natal & Natal B

Benwell Hill 1998
HS: 114 v Morpeth (a) 1998
BB: 4-16 v South Northumberland (a) 1998
BHCC Career
20 Matches, 20 inns, 6 not outs, 652 runs @ 46.57, 4-50s 1-100.
69.5 overs, 9 maidens, 256 runs, 12 wickets @ 21.33 & 8 catches

Gareth Katz was Professional for just one season at The Hill, but made a big impression in a highly successful year. He signed as replacement for the injured Gary Gilder at the beginning of 1998. Katz was a team-mate of Gilder at Natal in South Africa and he proved to be a more than capable substitute.

He was not really a straight swap in terms of a player as he was a top-order batsman who bowled a bit as his figures show. However in a side with plenty of local firepower in Crozier, Rutherford and Walder in particular, his batting balanced the side beautifully. Strong on the legside and behind point with a high backlift, Gareth struggled at first to come to terms with the sluggish early season pitches (some of course were still uncovered), despite a pre-season hundred at Ilkley. There were even mumblings in the then hard to please Hill committee room about his quality! The second half of the season was a different story.

His batting was not always a thing of beauty, but it was effective and when on song brutal. An example of his destructive powers was a memorable innings in the final of the Clavering Trophy at Shotley Bridge were Blaydon were beaten by a run-chase lasting less than 10 overs! As the pitches dried up and he adapted his game the runs flowed with a superb 114 at Longhirst against Morpeth in August being the highlight. His runs came at a time in the season when the club successfully regained the Northumberland County League title from South Northumberland, as well as winning the aforementioned Clavering Trophy, The Mallinson Denny League Cup and the prestigious Justsport Trophy for the first and only time (so far!).

The side Gareth Katz played in was one of the most successful in the club’s long history; indeed no other season has seen four First XI pieces of silverware. Gareth was central to that success, as a fine batsman, but also as a man of good humour and someone who understood exactly how teams gel together. He followed Gary Gilder’s example of being a clubman also with regular appearances in the clubhouse and the delights of Newcastle! His season at Denton Bank left him many friends and he is still in contact with some of them.

Gareth settled in London with his wife, Liza after finishing playing at The Hill. He moved back to his native South Africa in the last few years with his young family to run his own business in Johannesburg.

 

Gary Michael Gilder
b.6 July 1974 in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe)
RHB,LFM
South Africa A, KwaZulu-Natal, Natal and Somerset.

Benwell Hill 1997 & 2000
HS:80* v Tynedale (a) 1997
BB:6-55 v Backworth (h) 1997
BHCC Career
33 Matches,26 Inns,2 Not Outs,545 Runs @ 22.71,3-50s.
396.2 Overs 87 Maidens 1178 Runs 69 Wickets @ 17.07 5-5wi & 10 catches.

Gary Gilder had two spells as Pro at The Hill. His time was split by a year of injury in 1998 and the only season in recent times where the club fielded a First XI without a Professional in 1999.

Gary made an instant impression at Denton Bank with his cheerful nature and superb attitude, this was helped by a half-century on his debut in a club record score of 307 against Alnwick in early May 1997! Yet it was his bowling that he had been really signed for after a very promising tour of England with South Africa A during the previous season of 1996. It was on this tour he recorded his best First-Class figures of 8-22 against Worcestershire at Worcester. When he arrived at The Hill his stock was very much rising. His first season was plagued by poor weather and The Hill seemed to be suffering from a league winning hangover, which remarkably resulted in just one win by the end of May. Matters improved in the second half of the summer in Phil Nicholson's first year of captaincy and eventually the club finished fourth and enjoyed some cup silverware, despite not being able to mount a sustained effort to defend the title won so famously in 1996. Gilder's stats were impressive that first season. His bowling figures of 41 wickets at just 12.83 saw him finish second in the Northumberland County League bowling averages and 377 runs at 31.42 with three 50s were signs of real potential with the bat for a 23 year-old. A regular feature in the bar holding court with players, committee and social members he was in many ways the template for the classic overseas pro. It was without hesitation that he was re-signed for 1998.

That English winter of 1997-8 Gary suffered a back injury and informed the club in early 1998 that he was not fit enough to fulfill his playing contract for the forthcoming season. He recommended Gareth Katz, his Natal team-mate who ended-up playing such a pivotal role in the fantastic successes for The Hill in 1998.

The following summer expensive work on the ground over 1998-9 and the strength of the First XI squad saw the club decide to play 1999 without a pro, but it was during that year Gary agreed to return to Denton Bank for 2000. He played for Wallasey in Liverpool in 1999, but the carrot of a return to Newcastle and Benwell Hill proved strong and so he signed to became the first Hill pro in the newly formed North East Premier League.

It appeared a marriage made in heaven as the brave new world began, however it did not really pan out like that. Some of the magic seemed to have gone both on and off the field and although there was no lack of effort on Gary's behalf the wickets just would not come in a heavy enough quantity - 28 league wickets and 168 league runs were the raw figures. The back injury which prevented his return in 1998 seemed to have caused him some lingering problems, both as a bowler and as a fielder. His brilliance in this department was a regular feature of his 1997 performances, but less so in 2000. The quality of the pitches and batsmen had improved as the new league formed and this undoubtedly impacted on Gary's returns also. His left-arm over style often produced a play and miss, but not the edge and of course when it was nicked it had to be caught! In the final analysis for league cricket there were too many deliveries which passed the stumps by. The end of the first NEPL season saw the side finish in seventh place and it was decided not to renew Gary's contract for 2001.

He was disappointed by the decision which was hugely difficult one for the cricket committee to make. After many hours of deliberation, trying to ignore as much as possible, the great contribution Gary had made off the field the club opted to look elsewhere. His UK passport did allow him to return to England easily and he was engaged as Professional by Boldon in The Durham Senior League after his departure from Denton Bank. In 2003 he briefly played for Somerset as a non-overseas player (his last First-Class cricket) after his time with KwaZulu-Natal ended in 2002. His birth in Zimbabwe gave him another possible route to international cricket,but although he considered the idea he never really followed it seriously instead attempting the more difficult path in South Africa.

Gary Gilder is another Hill professional who is fondly remembered by all at The Hill. He lived close (very close one year, at the end of the drive!) and spent many hours in the club finding it easy to mix with young and old. He was never shy of a trip into the delights of Newcastle with his team-mates, often accompanied by several fellow South Africans from around the English leagues and was always fantastic and entertaining company. As a cricketer his full commitment was never in doubt and at his best he was a fierce quick bowler and a wonderful striker of a cricket ball, not to mention a superb athlete.

 

Shahid Nazir
b.4 December 1977 in Faisalabad, Punjab.
RHB, RFM
Pakistan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala Cricket Association, Habib Bank, National Bank of Pakistan and Northumberland.

Benwell Hill 2001-2004
HS:63 v Blaydon (a) 2002
BB:7-42 v Philadelphia (a) 2003
BHCC Career
77 Matches, 54 inns, 6 not outs, 759 runs @ 15.81, 1- 50.
1022.5 overs 239 Mdns 2836 runs 202 wickets @ 14.04 15 - 5wi & 17 catches.

Shahid was the first of club’s Pakistani professionals. He came to The Hill in the second season of the North East Premier League. He would finish his time at Denton Bank as the NEPL’s best overseas professional ever in many people’s eyes.

Shahid shivered through his debut at Norton in May 2001 and during his first season his return of 39 wickets at 16.46 showed promise for a player with no English club experience, although he had toured England with Pakistan as far back as 1996. He gliding run-up and smooth action was an impressive sight to behold, unless viewed by the waiting batsman. His blistering spell at The Riverside against The Durham Cricket Academy was a highlight. He helped The Hill to Runners-up spot in the NEPL during his first season improving on the 7th position in the inaugural year.

In 2002 Shahid improved his wicket tally by 19 to 58 and helped bring the NEPL Championship to Denton Bank. It was a remarkable effort as his wickets came at just 11.81 with four five-wicket-hauls. His skill in reading pitches and opponents made Shahid alongside Rutherford, Pollard and Crozier too strong for all the NEPL batting line-ups that year. In 2002 he was a wiser bowler able to vary his pace to suit the slower pitches without losing his ability to dismiss good players. Typically Shahid would be too quick through the air to the new batsman and his real trick was to knock over the last few wickets by hitting the stumps or the unfortunate batsman’s foot with his swinging deliveries.

Shahid always gave his best for The Hill in his own quiet undemonstrative way and in the wreckage of the 2003 season he showed great determination in a struggling team to still achieve over 50 NEPL wickets -  a feat he would repeat in 2004. By the end of the 2004 season his talent had seen him become the first NEPL bowler to claim 200 career wickets, no mean achievement for a quick bowler. His batting always showed promise without delivering in a consistent fashion, although he did produce countless entertaining cameos and one famously defiant innings at South North in 2004.

As 2005 began Shahid was selected to tour The West Indies with Pakistan after a gap of over six years since his previous Test appearance. Shahid’s selection meant missing a chunk of the English season and he was replaced at The Hill by his Habib Bank team-mate Taufeeq Umar. Shahid had to wait to reappear in Test Cricket, but did so at Headingley in 2006 (where Taufeeq Umar also played to complete a Hill double!) and toured South Africa over 2006-7. He has now played 15 Tests, although his return to Internationals may be short-lived due to intense competition and inconsistent selection. Probably with that  in mind he accepted in 2007 an offer to become professional at Sunderland in the NEPL. He performed with great skill again to help them to within a point of the title.

Shahid will be always held in great regard at The Hill as a bowler and a person. His family accompanied him to England on several occasions and indeed his daughter is a ‘Geordie’ by birth! Shahid, himself is a great family man. He contribution to the title winning side will not be forgotten by all Hill members, nor by the North-East’s batsmen!

 

Taufeeq Umar
Born: 20 June 1981 in Lahore, Punjab.
LHB, OB.
Pakistan, Pakistan A, Habib Bank and Lahore.

Benwell Hill 2005
HS:164* v Tynemouth (H) 2005.
BB:4-27 v Philadelphia (A) 2005.
BHCC Career:
13 Matches, 13 Innings, 2 Not Outs, 765 runs @ 69.55,3-100s & 3-50s.
76.0 overs, 11 maidens, 277 runs, 10 wickets @ 27.70.8 catches.

A swashbuckling left-hand opening bat, Taufeeq came to Denton Bank at the start of the 2005 season as a replacement for Shahid Nazir, who had won selection for a Pakistan tour to the West Indies. He was an instant hit making a sensational 149 on debut versus Newcastle. The innings was played within a day of him landing in the country and came from just 116 balls. It remains the highest score by a Hill debutant and featured a in a opening stand of over 200 with Simon Birtwisle. Batting first The Hill reached 222-1 off 33 overs at lunch on that day.

Taufeeq was light on his feet with fantastically quick hands and was particularly harsh on spinners, whilst he was a superb cutter and puller. His unbeaten 164 against Tynemouth is a Hill record in the NEPL and the second highest in the club's history. It was somewhat of a surprise that he did not overhaul Nick Craig's 175 given the skill of his batting. In his defence Taufeeq's solitary season at Denton Bank was cut short by Pakistan A commitments which saw him miss the last five matches of the programme. Added to the fact that he missed the first four games of the season his total of 765 runs is remarkable. Then a NEPL record aggregate for a season (Simon Birtwisle's 818 in 2006 overtook it!) he achieved the feat in just 13 innings, which included two ducks!

His bowling was useful and on helpful pitches he spun the ball, but his slip catching was superb. Only when the weather had warmed up was he keen to catch the nicks and by the time it had he was nearly finished, but not before he had snared some fine efforts.
Likely involvement in international cricket and the need for a strike bowler prevented his return to Denton Bank in 2006, although his legacy can still be seen in the running between the wickets and the improved manipulation of the ball into the spaces by many of those who batted with him and admired his skill from the boundary edge or dressing room.

Taufeeq regained his Test place against England at Leeds in 2006, only to lose it again for the following Test. He is currently Benwell Hill's most capped player with 25 Tests and 19 ODIs to his credit.

 

 

Mohammad Farrukh
Born: 27 December 1978 in Karachi, Sind.
RHB, OB
Karachi, Karachi Port Trust and Sargodha.

Benwell Hill 2005
HS:101* v Stockton (A) 2005.
BB:2-7 v Norton (H) 2005.
BHCC Career:
3 matches, 3 innings, 1 not out, 135 runs @ 67.50, 1-100.
23.2 overs, 3 maidens, 65 runs 4 wickets @ 16.25.2 catches.

The forgotten Pro! Signed late in the 2005 season as cover for Taufeeq Umar who had been called up for a Pakistan A Tour, Farrukh arrived in late August. He made a determined unbeaten 101 at Stockton and chipped in with a few useful wickets. Despite his very short time at Denton Bank made a positive impression to all.

 

Yasir Ali
Born: 15 October 1985 in Hazro, Attock.
RHB, RMF.
Pakistan, Rawalpindi and PTCL.

Benwell Hill 2006
HS:54 v Blaydon (A) 2006
BB:5-63 v Gateshead Fell (A) 2006
BHCC Career:
20 matches, 20 innings, 4 not outs, 351 runs @ 21.94, 2-50s.
342.2 overs, 75 maidens, 1013 runs,56 wickets @ 18.09, 1-5wi.4 catches.

A successful and popular Professional Yasir Ali fulfilled his role with huge pride during the 2006 season. He had re-signed for 2007, but fell foul of Work Permit regulations on recent First-Class matches played and was unable to return.

Yasir was a bowler capable of very quick spells, but due to lack of options in the attack he often bowled too many overs in the games he played. To his credit he was uncomplaining and also finished the leading wicket-taker in the NEPL with 56 in his first and only season. Amazingly he only claimed 5 wickets in an innings once and that was in the last game of the season. A back of a length bowler his understanding of league cricket was improving all the time and 2007 seemed to offer great promise for him at Denton Bank. His batting was effective in both NEPL and especially Cup cricket. A fierce hitter of a ball he struck it cleanly from ball one and was able to clear the ropes easily. He batted in the lower middle-order, but was often promoted to up-the-tempo of the innings in league cricket.

His friendly nature around the club was a feature of his time at The Hill, often watching the club's other sides play and he was always first to practice on Wednesday nights. All were disappointed he could not return in 2007.

 

Pedro Tyrone Collins
b.12 August 1976 in Boscobelle, St.Peter, Barbados
RHB,LFM
West Indies & Barbados
Half-brother of FH Edwards (West Indies & Barbados)

Benwell Hill 2007
HS: 1* v Durham Cricket Academy (a) 2007
BB: 4-91 v Tynemouth (h) 2007
BHCC Career
4 Matches, 2 inns, 1 not out, 1 run @ 1.00
59.5 overs, 8 Mdns, 222 runs 9 wickets @ 24.67.

The nearly Pro! He was signed as a late replacement for the Pakistani Abdur Rehman, who was unable to fulfill his commitments due to an international call-up. It appeared at the time that Pedro’s signing was a major coup, alas it was a false dawn.

He arrived to bowl with pace at South North on debut in a losing cause and thereafter suffered the worst June in memory weather-wise. Pedro was always in his Hill rain-jacket! His second match was washed-out at lunch, his third he played with a cold, before finally collecting four wickets in an innings in an exciting victory over Tynemouth. The following day was another match against Tynemouth in the Justsport Trophy – it proved to be his last.

His Work Permit application was rejected as it was submitted after his entry into the country and therefore his was not able to continue in his role at the club, despite various attempts to reverse the decision. His spell at Denton Bank must rank as the most bizarre of all the Professionals engaged over the years. A cheerful character off the field and clearly a potent strike bowler on it, Pedro is now the most capped Hill player with 32 Test and 30 ODI appearances. He ironically signed as a non-overseas player for Surrey in 2008 via the infamous Kolpak system!

 

Robert Frylinck
b. 27th September 1984 in Durban, South Africa
RHB, RFM
KwaZulu-Natal, Dolphins & Surrey

Benwell Hill 2008
HS: 58 v South North (h)
BB: 6-33 v Chester-le-Street (h)

BHCC Career
20 Matches, 15 inns, 2 not outs, 253 @ 19.46, 1-50
275.3 overs, 46 Mdns, 820 runs 42 wickets @ 19.52, 2-5wi & 10 cts.

Rob Frylinck spent one largely unhappy season at Denton Bank during 2008. It coincided with the club’s poorest NEPL showing of 11th and indeed only a wash-out of the final game of the season guaranteed survival in the league. He signature marked a move away from the Pakistani connection the club had established in 2001 and Frylinck was seen as a player who could add bite to the new ball bowling and strike valuable middle-order runs. Flashes of these abilities were seen throughout the season. His performance in truth was mercurial, as was his character.

The best came in one 20/20 match against Blaydon (the first ever NEPL 20/20 at Denton Bank). On one beautiful early July night he showed his talent to a good sized crowd by blasting 90 in The Hill’s 219-6 and then claiming 5-31 to dismiss the visitors and secure a passage to the first Finals Day. In the league his 42 wickets in a wet, weather affected summer was a commendable effort, but he never consistently convinced those around him that it really mattered. On his day he was a real handful with his 6-33 against Chester-le-Street in only his third game a prime example. Bowling at a good pace well above medium he moved the ball away from the right-handers and generally bowled full.

His batting despite experience in English conditions (with Vauxhall Mallards in Norfolk) the previous summer was also eventually something of a disappointment with nights like the Blaydon innings and a early blitz against Stockton in the Justsport Trophy, the exceptions rather than the rule. Perhaps, he enjoyed the challenge of the facing the best as over 90 of his 253 NEPL runs came against the perennial champions South North. Too often though a flurry of boundaries gave way to a tame dismissal in a side that needed a big performance from their professional to galvanize a team short on confidence.

During the season he traveled south to play Second XI cricket for Surrey and it seemed to turn his head. By August he made his List A debut for Surrey in the Pro40 and signed a Kolpak contract, thus abandoning his fledgingly career in South Africa. Remarkably successive Hill professionals had thus been signed by Surrey! Surrey supported The Hill allowing Frylinck to complete his duties with us before linking up in the south. He, like the Hill captain (with whom he had an uneasy relationship) in that season, Martin Pollard, left the club in September 2008.

 

Zohaib Khan
b. 20th March 1984 in Peshawar, Pakistan
RHB, SLA
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd, Peshawar Panthers & PCB Patron’s XI

Benwell Hill 2009
HS: 105 v Newcastle (a) 209
BB: 6-24 v Durham Cricket Academy (a) 2009

BHCC Career
18 Matches, 17 inns, 5 not outs, 554 runs @ 46.16, 1-100 & 1-50.
232.3 overs, 62 Mdns, 585 runs 42 wickets @ 13.92, 2-5wi & 7 cts.

After two seasons with overseas professionals from other lands, The Hill returned to Pakistan for 2009. Zohaib Khan became the latest first-class cricketer from that country to represent the club.

A slow-left arm bowler with batting potential was how he was pitched - it turned out Zohaib was a real all-rounder in NEPL cricket. His arrival was delayed by the new procedures created to bring overseas players in the country and a slow visa process in Pakistan. His late arrival in mid-May was the only major problem experienced during the season.

He made his NEPL debut at Norton (as Shahid Nazir did back in 2001) in a rain wrecked draw and it was followed by a new experience for him at Backworth in the Tyneside Charity Bowl three days later. The conditions were so alien to him on his first trip to England that he did ask following the game, “How do you bat on these wickets?” He seemed to know how to bowl alright with figures of: 5 overs, 3 maidens 3 runs and 5 wickets. A remarkable club debut! He did learn how to bat in England and benefited from excellent surfaces at Denton Bank where on the 31st May, just eleven days after his question at Backworth he led the side to a memorable seven wicket win over the Durham Cricket Academy in the Quarter-Final of the Banks Salver (NEPL Cup). Zohaib contributed an unbeaten 114, his highest score for the Hill in all cricket. The innings proved he was quick learner and shed light on his character as a real professional working to improve his game all the time.

His bowling strangled opposition batsman and he was effective in the 20/20 cricket in the early overs especially. His line became more attacking in the second half of the season allowing him to make the batsman play more often and hit against the spin. His best figures came at the HQ of Durham CCC, The Riverside Ground where his 19 overs yielded 6 wickets for just 24 runs. He also claimed 5 wickets late in the season at Tynemouth. It is worth noting that he did not bowl in seven NEPL fixtures in 2009, because of weather and his delayed start. If he had he would surely become the first Hill player to do the NEPL double of 500 runs and 50 wickets. His batting total eventually reached 554 in the NEPL, a total only better seven times in 10 years, whilst his 42 wickets was also fine effort, bettered only by Yasir Ali, David Rutherford and the legendary Shahid Nazir (three times!).

Zohaib made a maiden NEPL hundred at Jesmond as he helped created a couple of new club records. The team total of 308-9 is the highest club total of all time and he shared in a fourth wicket stand of 139 with Richard Coughtrie which broke the previous record for that wicket. His shot-play was skillful in the extreme. He is not a blaster of the ball, but manipulates it into the spaces with deflections and strong wrists. These skills matched to strong concentration and a desire to contribute made him a fine batsman in his own right, without his bowling. He rarely played in a game he did not influence with one suit or the other which is the mark of an excellent club professional.

Zohaib is to return in 2010 and all at Denton Bank are delighted about that. His engaging personality made him popular with all members and his professionalism was an example to all players young and old. He will arrive back wiser from his first season in England and a successful domestic season in Pakistan, no doubt hungry to make more of an impact for the club then in 2009 – he is that sort of man.