Globe-trotting leg spinner Imran Tahir stopped off at Trent Bridge for two brief spells as overseas professional with Nottinghamshire.
Born in Lahore, Imran Tahir made his debut in domestic cricket in Pakistan in 1996 and played 12 Tests and 16 One-Day Internationals for Pakistan Under-19s. He continued to play successfully in his homeland and in 2005 was selected for Pakistan A. He also spent time playing in both England and South Africa, where he met his future wife, Sumayya. They married and Tahir subsequently became a citizen of that country, paving the way for an international cricket career with South Africa. He made his One-Day international debut for the Proteas in February 2011 and was soon capped at Test and T20 level.
His first stint at Trent Bridge was in 2015, when he arrived in late July as a replacement for injured Australian Ben Hilfenhaus. The 36-year old was by then an experienced performer in international cricket, having played 16 Tests, 41 One-Day and 16 T20 Internationals for South Africa. Nottinghamshire was Tahir’s fifth English county, as he had completed previous assignments with Hampshire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Middlesex.
It was expected that he would feature for Nottinghamshire through to the end of the season, with a brief break in mid-August for South Africa’s limited overs series against New Zealand. Tahir played in one County Championship and three Royal London One-Day Cup matches ahead of the trip home but did not return to Trent Bridge after sustaining a thigh injury while playing for South Africa.
He journeyed back to Nottinghamshire in 2016, arriving in July to play in the second half of the County Championship and T20 campaigns. Tahir started in six T20 group matches and the quarter-final against Essex at Trent Bridge, claiming six wickets in the seven games. He was included in the squad for Finals Day at Edgbaston but, with only two overseas players allowed in the eleven, he was omitted in favour of T20 captain Dan Christian and West Indian Andre Russell who had played for the Outlaws in the competition earlier in the season.
Tahir made seven County Championship appearances during this stay with Nottinghamshire. Despite taking 25 wickets, with a best of 7-112 against Somerset at Trent Bridge, he could not prevent the County from sinking to the bottom of Division 1 and being relegated at the end of the season. His two seasons with Notts saw Tahir starting 18 times in total, taking 41 wickets, each marked with his trademark exuberant running celebration.
After his time with Nottinghamshire, Imran Tahir continued to ply his trade in almost every part of the world and has now played for at least 25 different sides. By early 2020, he had played more than 150 times for South Africa across all forms of cricket. Still an enthusiastic and highly regarded cricketer, he continues to grace most of the world’s T20 tournaments, including those in India, Pakistan, South Africa, the Caribbean and England, where he has now featured for eight counties … so far!
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 636