Shantry: No Ajmal concerns

Ajmal took 63 wickets in nine matches last season to help propel the Pears to Division One.

But he was subsequently suspended from cricket by the ICC for an illegal action. He remodelled it over the winter, and was recently cleared to return.

Worcestershire had hoped to have him available for most of the season, but Pakistan called him up for their forthcoming tour of Bangladesh which finishes on 10 May, and the club is still waiting to find out when he will be back at New Road.

Shantry believes the spinner will still be a massive weapon for them when he does arrive.

???He???s incredibly important. Saeed took 60-odd wickets in nine games which is a phenomenal achievement,??? he told Sky Sports News HQ. ???He was the best bowler in the world at the time. It will be interesting to see how he comes back. We???ve all got confidence he will be the same bowler. It will be a little bit of a surprise for opposition teams with his new action.

???It???s incredibly difficult (to remodel his action) and we???ve got nothing but respect for the way he has come back. I think he???s bowled 10,000 deliveries with his new action which is a remarkable feat. It shows real hunger for a senior international player to want to come back, and we???re very fortunate to have him.???

Many pundits believe Worcestershire will go straight back to Division Two in what looks a tough division.

But Shantry says the team is relishing their status as underdogs.

???We???re really looking forward to it,??? he said. ???We???re very hungry at Worcester. We???ve been written off a few times in the past by the media. And we???re quietly confident going into the first game on Sunday.

???It was a massive team effort throughout the whole of last season. People like Daryl Mitchell, scoring over 1000 runs ??? and possibly should be in line for an England call-up ??? make us very confident.

?????Looking at the bookmakers, the target is to avoid relegation. But we???ve got a young group of players here with a lot of talent who want to prove the doubters wrong. So the target is at least mid-table this season.???