Ashraf was due to play for the club in the first half of the 2020 season, while Pollard was set to join for the T20 Blast. But with all professional cricket in England and Wales suspended until July 1 at the earliest, a two-week quarantine period for travellers coming to the UK from overseas, and prospects of a county season increasingly limited, Northants have cancelled their deals.
The majority of counties have now cancelled deals for at least some of their overseas players, with restrictions on international travel and a desire to cut costs at a time when revenue has completely dried up the main factors in decision-making.
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“It’s obviously really disappointing as they’re superb players and there was a real buzz around them joining the squad,” David Ripley, the club’s head coach, said. “I’d really like to thank the players and their management for their understanding and cooperation.”
Ray Price, the club’s chief executive, left open the possibility of the pair representing the club in the future. Ashraf played 11 Blast games for the club last season, while Pollard was the marquee signing for this season’s tournament.
“There are a lot of ifs, buts and maybes,” Payne said. “We don’t have any schedule yet for next season so those players don’t know where they’re going to be. But once we’ve got a schedule, we’ll definitely be talking to them about coming back.”
The club confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that Paul Stirling, who had signed as an overseas player for a handful of Blast games, remains under contract for the time being.
Stirling, who lives in Belfast, would not have to self-isolate after flying across the Irish Sea under current government advice, increasing the possibility that he could be available for a postponed Blast.