BREAKING: All-rounder Mohammad Nabi ruled out of Steelbacks' opening T20 matches
Mohammad Nabi will miss the first weekend of the Northants Steelbacks' Vitality T20 Blast campaign as he undergoes quarantine in a London hotel after arriving in the UK from overseas.
The Afghanistan star all-rounder, who was the club's marquee white ball signing in the winter, had been expected to be available for all 14 Blast group matches ahead of turning out for London Spirit in The Hundred.
But the 36-year-old has been tied down by the UK's Covid-19 mandatory quarantine rules, and despite arriving in the country last weekend, he will not be available for selection until next week.
It is not yet clear if he will be first available for Tuesday's home date with Birmingham Bears, or Thursday's trip to Derbyshire.
It does mean that Nabi will miss Friday night's opener against Worcestershire Rapids at the County Ground, as well as the home game against Notts Outlaws on Sunday.
It is certainly not great news, but there were fears a few weeks ago that Nabi may not make the tournament at all, with Covid-19 still impacting global sport.
So the prospect of having the big-hitting Afghanistan all-rounder for the majority of the group stages, as well as any knockout games, is something of a relief for skipper Josh Cobb.
And although he admits he is disappointed he won't have one of the world's top white ball players at his immediate disposal, but is looking forward to Nabi's delayed arrival.
"I was thrilled with that signing, as he fills that gap we had in the middle with a bit of power, along with Wayne Parnell, adding experience in the finishing role with the bat," said the Steelbacks captain.
"Also Nabi is very, very clever when it comes to bowling, he is a solid all-round fit that can win you games with bat and ball, the same as Wayne.
"He is an exciting prospect to have in the side and it is a real disappointment that he won't be here for the start, but fingers crossed he doesn't miss too many games."
A club statement read: "The ever-changing nature of UK Government travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, as well as limited availability of quarantine hotel rooms has meant getting the Afghanistan international into the country has proved difficult."
And Cobb added: “I’d like to say thanks to the office staff here at the club and Richard Sydenham (cricket agent) who’ve had a nightmare few weeks trying to get everything sorted.
“I don’t envy them at all, I think they ended up on about plan W by the end.
!It’s not a massive interruption though, hopefully we can get off to a strong start in the competition and Nabi can take us to that next level.”
Nabi will join South African Wayne Parnell as the Steelbacks second overseas player, and following his arrival, both are available for the duration of the group stages.
Nabi's unavailability does mean the Steelbacks will have to alter their plans for Friday night's opener against the Rapids, but Cobb is confident the squad can rise to the occasion.
"There are a few things up in the air in terms of what we do in his absence," said the 30-year-old.
"But we do have plenty of other options, whether we go with an extra batter or an extra bowler, and we will have a chat about it and see where we are at for Friday."