Another international series in January could rob the Big Bash of the best T20 spinner in the world

The Big Bash could be without the world’s best T20 spinner Rashid Khan in the closing stages of this year’s tournament, including the finals.

An international ODI series between Afghanistan and Ireland has been scheduled for January and, if called up to play, tight border restrictions could make it impossible for several players in the BBL to return in time to rejoin their teams.

The Melbourne Stars on Wednesday confirmed the signing of Afghanistan spinner Zahir Khan, who will move south for the BBL season after playing with the Brisbane Heat last summer.

The 21 year-old left-arm wrist spinner is expected to be available for the full BBL season.

But his availability, and that of at least three other key Afghan players, could be severaly compromised after the announcement of the series against Ireland in the UAE from January 18-23.

Adelaide Strikers weapon Rashid, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Brisbane Heat) and Mohammad Nabi (Melbourne Renegades) have all signed to play the entire BBL season but could be required for their country.

Given Australia‘s border restrictions require all international visitors to quarantine for two weeks, it would be impossible for the Afghan players take part in the final stages of the BBL which finishes on February 6.

Rashid, the number one ranked T20 bowler in the world who has taken 56 wickets in 40 matches for the Stirkers, could miss the final five games, depending on when he needs to leave Australia, plus the finals.

The Strikers are yet to receive confirmation that Khan would be required for the games against Ireland and remain hopeful he will be available for as many games as possible.

Getting the best international players to the BBL this yera has has proved challenging for all teams, with many baulking at the prospect of more time in a playing bubble.

English star Jofra Archer opted against coming back for the Hobart Hurricanes, while others chose not to play because they couldn‘t bring their families for the two month stay in Australia.

South African jet AB deVilliers and countryman Dale Steyn are two who played last year but won’t return.

And several English players who have signed BBL deals, including star openers Jason Roy, who has joined the Perth Scorchers and Jonny Bairstow at the Stars, will also be late starters for the tournament because of a series against South Africa in December.

The extra 14- days quarantine they will have to do on arrival in Australia means they won’t be available until after Christmas.

🚨 International @BBL Signing!

We've secured Afghanistan spinner Zahir Khan for #BBL10! 🇦🇫 #TeamGreen 💚

New Stars spinner Khan joins Bairstow and West Indian Nicholas Pooran on the club’s international roster.

“I’m really looking forward to playing for the Stars during this BBL season. The squad is looking strong and I’d like to thank the club for giving me the chance to be part of it,” he said.

The Stars have one more international player to announce.

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