Andy Umeed becomes first SACA graduate to sign long-term county contract

Andy Umeed becomes first SACA graduate to sign long-term county contract

Andy Umeed, the former Warwickshire opener, has become the first graduate of the South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA) scheme to sign a multi-year contract with a county after agreeing a deal with Somerset until the end of the 2023 season.

SACA describes itself as an “intervention programme designed to tackle the inequalities highlighted by research regarding the lack of British South Asian representation in professional cricket” and was launched in full this season in partnership with Birmingham City University.

The research underpinning the scheme shows that 30% of recreational cricketers in England and Wales are British South Asian, compared to only 5% of professional British male players. A SACA XI has played regular fixtures against county second XIs this season and a number of players have earned county trials as a result.

“The South Asian Cricket Academy have helped me a lot. They’ve given me the opportunity to train through the winter and given me access to quality coaches. That has helped me to bridge that gap between club cricket and the professional game.”

Andy Umeed

Umeed trialled for Yorkshire this season after making 77 against their second team and has now earned a contract with Somerset which runs until the end of next season. Somerset have struggled with the bat this season and Umeed will effectively replace James Hildreth, who is expected to retire at the end of the year and has not played in the Championship since May.

He becomes the second SACA graduate to sign a professional contract after Kashif Ali, who played seven games for Worcestershire in the T20 Blast and has signed a deal that runs until the end of this season.‚Äč

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity and it means everything to me,” Umeed, 26, said. “Being a cricketer is all I’ve ever wanted to do. My journey has highlighted how much I love playing cricket. Being out of the game has given me perspective and made me realise just how lucky I am to be able to keep pursuing my dream.

“There have been ups and downs in my career so far, but this goes to show that if you keep doing your best and work hard then the rewards will come.

“The South Asian Cricket Academy have helped me a lot. They’ve given me the opportunity to train through the winter and given me access to quality coaches. That has helped me to bridge that gap between club cricket and the professional game.”

Andy Hurry, Somerset’s director of cricket, said: “We have been impressed with what we have seen from Andy during his time with us this summer. Andy’s story is a great reflection of his determination to succeed.

“Having had the opportunity to observe him within the Second XI Championship this summer, where his assuredness, approach and method to scoring runs has impressed both coaches and fellow players, we are delighted he has agreed to join the club and we look forward to seeing his journey within the game continue to evolve”.

Meanwhile, Tom Banton has hinted that he will extend his stay at the club, having been linked with a move away. Banton’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season but he told the club’s YouTube stream during their game against Yorkshire: “There’s only one club I’ll be at next year so don’t worry.

“I’ve been signing stuff in the crowd and I’ve heard all sorts. I’m only ever going to be at one club. I think it had to be addressed because everywhere I went it was getting asked. Don’t worry.”

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