Northamptonshire have pulled off a major coup by signing Afghanistan allrounder Mohammad Nabi as one of their overseas players for the 2021 T20 Blast.
After several seasons of cost-cutting at the club, Northants have signalled their improved financial position in the last two years with several marquee overseas signings: Jason Holder, Temba Bavuma, Faheem Ashraf and Dwaine Pretorius all played at some stage in 2019, while AB de Villiers had held talks that year before eventually signing for Middlesex.
Ashraf and Kieron Pollard had signed for last summer’s Blast before having their contracts cancelled due to the pandemic, with Paul Stirling recruited at short notice instead, and the addition of Nabi – ranked the No. 1 T20I allrounder in the world by the ICC – is a statement of intent ahead of next year’s competition.
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Nabi will turn 36 next month, but remains a highly sought-after player on the global T20 circuit as a powerful middle-order hitter and a wily offspinner who can bowl in the powerplay. Northants will be his third county, after previous seasons at Leicestershire and Kent in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
“We’re delighted to welcome such a high-profile T20 player as Mohammad Nabi to the club,” David Ripley, Northants’ director of cricket, said. “He has a wealth of experience from playing in so many global tournaments around the world and can completely turn a game with both bat and ball.”
Josh Cobb, the club’s T20 captain, said that they had identified middle-order batting as a problem area after falling away in the second half of the Blast this season.
“Nabi was our number one target for that role, so Rips [David Ripley] and the club have done a great job to get him.” Cobb said. “We’ve looked at our middle order as a bit of priority for us, so Nabi was the perfect choice with his power and experience.
“Along with bringing in Tom [Taylor] last year we’re now looking pretty strong in that area. They’re both three-dimensional players, so they help balance us up a bit and give us plenty of options on the day.”
Nabi was signed by the London Spirit in the inaugural draft for the Hundred, and while his retention is yet to be officially confirmed, a Northants press release said that he would be available for the Blast’s quarter-finals following his involvement in that competition, subject to approval from the Afghanistan Cricket Board.