One of the biggest names in world cricket will feature in the T20 Blast next season with Northamptonshire signing Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi.
But the deal, which is still subject to clearance from the Pakistan Cricket Board, highlights the difficulties counties have in attracting big names for the competition. Afridi will only be available for the first six matches.
Nevertheless, 34-year-old Afridi, one of the most dangerous hitters in the game and a canny legspinner, is capable of putting Northants in a strong position to qualify from the 14-match group stage.
Afridi, a veteran of 77 T20 internationals, last appeared in county cricket in 2012, the second of his two-year stint with Hampshire, for whom he took 19 wickets at 12.57.
"This is a very exciting signing for us," head coach David Ripley said. "Shahid is without doubt the most outstanding spin-bowling allrounder in one-day international cricket of the last five years. He is a fierce competitor and undoubted match-winner with bat and ball.
"He brings a wealth of experience to the dressing room with over 230 Twenty20 games as well as captaining his Country."
Northants will be looking for a healthier campaign next season after a 2014 that saw them meekly surrender their famously-won title, winningly only four of their 14 group matches.
Afridi added: "I am looking forward to playing in the T20 Blast. I have always enjoyed playing in England, where I have always found the crowds good natured and knowledgeable.
"I am very happy to be joining a good Northants squad in the search for Twenty20 success."