Monday, October 26, 2009

Afridi joins South Australia for Twenty20

South Australia have signed Shahid Afridi for the Twenty20 Big Bash this summer as a replacement for the spinner Ajantha Mendis. The Redbacks had announced the recruitment of Mendis in July but he is now unavailable due to Sri Lanka's planned tri-series with India and Bangladesh in January.

South Australia's Big Bash campaign begins on December 29, when Pakistan will be involved in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. However, Afridi has not played Test cricket since 2006 and is not expected to feature in their Test squad, which would leave him free to take part in the full Twenty20 competition.

"We narrowly missed out on finals last season and these signings are definitely a boost to our quest to qualify for the Champions League this year," South Australia's high performance manager Jamie Cox said. "I have made no secret of the fact that I view the Big Bash competition as the most commercial on the domestic calendar and the inaugural Champions' League also provides fantastic opportunities for young players to showcase their skills on the world stage."

Afridi should be a valuable Twenty20 asset for South Australia; he was the player of the tournament at the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 and averages 21.05 with the bat and 15.73 with the ball from his 24 Twenty20 internationals. Other international signings for the Big Bash include Chris Gayle (Western Australia) and Dwayne Bravo (Victoria).

Lasith Malinga was to join Tasmania and Victoria had attracted Muttiah Muralitharan but both men are likely to be unavailable for the same reason as Mendis. The West Indies allrounder Kieron Pollard is on New South Wales' radar and the states have until Christmas Eve to confirm up to two international recruits.

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