HE made his Hampshire debut as an A-level student alongside Kevin Pietersen and was once seen as Dimi Mascarenhas’s long-term replacement.
But Hamza Riazuddin insists he has no regrets as he follows Mascarenhas out of the Ageas Bowl’s exit door, after making five first-class appearances in six seasons.
“It’s been a very up-and-down six years, I haven’t quite achieved what I wanted when I was 18, but I’ve still had an incredible time, it’s been an amazing experience and playing professional sport has done a lot for me as a person,” said the 23 year-old, who sacrificed a degree to give himself the best chance of succeeding Mascarenhas.
“I deferred going to uni because the best chance for me to play and develop in the first team was when Dimi was away at the IPL in April/May,” he said. “I wanted Dimi’s career but would take half of that now! I want to excel in what I do and I don’t feel I can do that as a cricketer.
“What Dimi did for Hampshire is incredible and very, very hard. It’s only in the last two years that I’ve appreciated how good he is. He’ll be sorely missed.”
Former England Under-19 all-rounder Riazuddin, who took 40 wickets in 44 limited-overs matches for Hampshire, was once as highly rated as James Vince, Chris Wood, Liam Dawson, Michael Bates and Danny Briggs. “While I did ok, I didn’t kick on like them,” he said. “People develop at different rates and they’ve all done brilliantly.
“They’ll have long careers and will always be good mates. I wish them all the best.”
Riazuddin’s four LV County Championship appearances at the beginning of last season, his first first-class outings since his Taunton debut in 2008, included the highlight of his career – 5-61 and the winning runs in a thriller against Glamorgan at the Swalec Stadium.
“I tried to go out on loan after that but nothing really came up and it was the same when I spoke to a few counties this year,” he said. “Some say it’s hard not playing but I’ve been ok with it. The four trophies have still meant a lot to me, I’ve got some special memories from being in the squad and a medal for each of them as well! “Now I’m under a lot more pressure to make a career with some longevity.
“I don’t know what to do yet but this is an exciting part of my life. All I’ve known is cricket so I’m looking forward to moving on to something new.”
Riazuddin will consider his options, which include a career in finance, while playing club cricket in Melbourne. “I’ve done internships in the City before and was offered a job in Dubai two weeks ago but I want to be sure I do the right thing,” he said.
Hampshire have also released Michael Roberts, Adam Rouse and Jack Sheppard, while Jake George has left to begin a degree at Durham University. Meanwhile, England Under-19 duo Lewis McManus, a wicketkeeper-batsman, and left-arm pace bowler Tom Barber have both signed one-year scholarship contracts.