Northants resigned to cancelling contracts of overseas trio Pollard, Ashraf and Stirling

Northants are becoming increasingly resigned to the fact they will be forced to cancel the contracts of overseas trio Kieron Pollard, Faheem Ashraf and Paul Stirling.

By Jeremy Casey
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 3:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 3:18 pm
West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard was due to play for Northants Steelbacks this summer
West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard was due to play for Northants Steelbacks this summer

With cricket in England suspended until at least July 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, chairman Gavin Warren concedes the chances of any of the three representing the club this summer is probably ‘nil’.

Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Surrey have already announced the contracts of their overseas signings for 2020 have been ripped up, and it now seems it is only a matter of time before Northants follow suit.

Indeed, Pakistan all-rounder Ashraf's contract has already effectively been terminated as he was brought in to play the first nine rounds of the County Championship as well as the Vitality T20 Blast, and all of those four-day fixtures have already been postponed, as well as the first 10 T20 games.

Pakistan all-rounder Faheem Ashraf

Pollard and Stirling were signed to play in the T20 alone, and there is still some hope that competition could be played later in the summer, but Warren admits if it is, there is virtually no chance the big-hitting West Indian or Irishman will be involved.

"Technically, Faheem is cancelled, but we are holding out hope for Paul and Kieron, but I think it will probably be a week's time and then the likelihood of them coming is very, very slim," said Warren.

"We have got an issue with their travel, because they would come into a quarantine and isolation period of 14 days, so then you have to decide when are they going to fly in?

"And if they do fly in, what is the form in terms of what are we playing?

Ireland batsman Paul Stirling

"So it is very much an unknown, but the likelihood of them coming is nil I would have thought, given the travel restrictions.

"It is a shame because Kieron was box office, Faheem is a great player, and Paul Stirling is up there as well. They were exciting signings."

As with clubs from all sports up and down the country, Northants are having to try and plan as best they can for what may happen over the next few weeks and months.

The uncertainty is a far cry from the positivity and anticipation that was all around the club as they were preparing for what they thought was going to be the start of the season just a few weeks ago.

Northants chairman Gavin Warren

It has all been a totally unexpected whirlwind, and Warren said: "We had a board meeting last week, and I said that March 5 was our AGM.

"I said at the AGM that here we are in a really good financial position, a position of strength, the biggest squad we have had for five years, back in division one of the County Championship, we have signed Kieron Pollard and we are ready to go.

"Then, two weeks later it was 'bang'. You couldn't write it really, but there are bigger things in the world and the number one priority remains public safety."