The form bowler of this year's cricket World Cup, Shahid Afridi, is the marquee international signing for the Melbourne Renegades Twenty20 team.
The exuberant Pakistani, who has captained his country in all three formats and is a renowned limited-overs player, is believed to have resisted overtures from Adelaide, where he played in the Big Bash in 2009-10.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Afridi, 31, will be joined at the Etihad Stadium-based Renegades by Abdul Razzaq, another 31-year-old all-rounder from Pakistan. While Razzaq's profile pales compared to Afridi's he is a reliable performer in both disciplines, particularly his accurate medium-fast seam bowling.
Afridi said the lure of playing with Razzaq this summer "was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down even though I had better money offers from other teams".
Razzaq is yet to debut in the Big Bash League, which has been expanded for the coming summer from six state-based teams to eight city-based teams. Nevertheless, he lauded its reputation.
"The Big Bash League is a tournament that is highly thought of in the cricketing world, and is probably the best T20 competition in terms of skill level and grounds."
The signings take the Renegades to almost their full complement, needing only two more players before December to reach the mandatory 18-man squad.
Teams in Victoria and New South Wales, which each boast two teams, have had to organise separate governance of the teams. The first step in that was confirmed this morning, with North Melbourne FC president and television presenter James Brayshaw announced as chairman of the Renegades. In addition to this roles at the Kangaroos, Channel Nine and Triple M, Brayshaw was also an experience first-class opening batsman, playing 75 Sheffield Shield matches for Western Australia and SA and averaging a commendable 42.53.
"This is an unbelievably exciting opportunity to build a team from scratch," Brayshaw said. "T20 is a great product, and I'm committed to making the Renegades the best team in the KFC T20 Big Bash League, and to providing a great experience for our fans." Melbourne's other T20 team, the MCG-based Stars, have signed only five players so far but are expected to confirm many more signings - and also their board appointees - next week.
(The Sydney Morning Herald)