Surrey are hoping to sign the Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to help their fight against relegation over the next month. Currently bottom of the County Championship First Division by 18 points with only three matches to play, Surrey are strong favourites to be one of the two teams to go down.
But their cricket manager Alan Butcher is planning to have Shoaib available in time for next week's crunch match against title-chasing Kent at Canterbury. "We have made contact, we have spoken with him. We are just waiting to see whether it's possible," Butcher said. "We've got three matches left and we need something to happen." One potential snag is legal documentation, which requires all overseas players to spend at least three weeks in Britain. Shoaib, 33, is hoping to press his claims for a recall to the Pakistan team, with his five-year ban following altercations with the national board recently rescinded.
His fellow Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Sami has signed for Sussex for the rest of the season following thse injury-enforced retirement of the veteran leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed. The 27-year-old, who has previously played for Kent, will arrive in time for Sussex's First Division match against Yorkshire at Scarborough next week.
Sussex's professional cricket manager, Mark Robinson, said that Mushtaq had played a central role in securing the services of his compatriot and replacement. "Mushtaq helped massively with the signing of Mohammad – spending 10 days on the phone making sure everything went smoothly," Robinson said. "His arrival will give everybody a boost for what is increasingly looking like an extremely important game at Scarborough."