Yorkshire is expected destination for Shan Masood after Derbyshire exit

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Yorkshire are expected to sign Shan Masood, the Pakistan opening batter, after he confirmed that he had turned down Derbyshire’s offer of a new contract and would leave the club at the end of the season.

Masood, who is regarded in Derbyshire circles as one of their most influential overseas signings, could also be offered the Yorkshire captaincy following Steven Patterson’s decision to step down as leader of the Championship side at the end of last month and the departure of England’s allrounder, David Willey, who was in charge of the T20 side, to Northamptonshire.

Masood is seen as a perfect fit for Yorkshire as they seek to promote an all-inclusive culture in the wake of racism allegations from their former player, Azeem Rafiq, which sparked the biggest crisis in the club’s history and brought charges of bringing the game into disrepute from the ECB after a prolonged investigation.

As a multi-format player, whose international days might be drawing to a close, Masood could also be expected to become an important figurehead in minority-ethnic communities as Yorkshire work to build trust across all parts of the county.

His considered leadership was a prime factor in Derbyshire’s qualification for the Blast quarter-finals, as well as a more stable season in Division Two of the LV= Championship, but he was called up by Pakistan for a Test tour of Sri Lanka and Derbyshire crashed and burned in their last-eight Blast tie against Somerset at Taunton.

Derbyshire had been in discussions with Masood, 32, regarding an extended contract for several months and despite a significantly improved offer, he has decided to take on potentially a hugely influential role.

Derbyshire’s head of cricket, Mickey Arthur, was philosophical about Masood’s departure but nevertheless it is a blow for his efforts to change the county’s reputation as one of the weakest in the country.

“Bringing Shan to Derbyshire was my priority when joining the club last winter,” Arthur said. “He’s shown the performances I knew he was capable of in county cricket and we’ve been keen to extend his deal since very early on in the season.

“The contract renewal reflected his performances and value to the club, but ultimately we couldn’t match the offer. The other county set their stall out to bring in Shan and while it is of course disappointing to lose a player of his calibre, I and everyone at the club wish him the very best for the future.

“We’ve seen a different Derbyshire this year and the group have surpassed people’s expectations. We’re shaking off that underdog tag and teams know when they play us that it’s going to be a competitive game. There’s more to come from this group and we’ll supplement that core with overseas recruitment, the process for which is already underway.”

Masood offered optimistic words in return. “Derbyshire is a great club with a very positive outlook and inclusive culture. Under Mickey’s project I see the group challenging for trophies and reaching greater heights in the very near future. It has not been easy making this decision, but I feel this move is the next phase of my life and career.”

He is on course to finish the season with more than 2,000 runs across all formats, including a double century against Sussex.

Yorkshire explored the possibility earlier in the summer of signing Moeen Ali as another statement signing, although that prospect was always unlikely. Moeen said in June that he would be open to joining Yorkshire for cricketing reasons but “not as a publicity stunt” before making an expected switch from Worcestershire to his first county Warwickshire and his home city of Birmingham where his popularity is evident, not least in his leadership of Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred.

Yorkshire would welcome a similar impact from Masood as they try to reinvigorate a county where membership has fallen to historically low levels and debts remain around £20 million.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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