Big blow for Steelbacks as Shahid Afridi decides against County Ground return

NO RETURN - Shahid Afridi played for Northants Steelbacks in the NatWest T20 last summer, but is set to sign for Hampshire for the 2016 season

NO RETURN - Shahid Afridi played for Northants Steelbacks in the NatWest T20 last summer, but is set to sign for Hampshire for the 2016 season

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Northants have suffered a setback after missing out on the signature of their top T20 target.

The County had been hopeful of acquiring a player for the 2016 NatWest T20 Blast competition, but have been unable to agree a deal with their desired recruit.

Shahid Afridi is set to rejoin Hampshire in the 2016 season

Shahid Afridi is set to rejoin Hampshire in the 2016 season

The Chron understands that Shahid Afridi was the man Northants wanted, but he has now opted to sign a longer deal with another county, believed to be another of his former clubs, Hampshire.

The Steelbacks, who had acquired some outside sponsorship to fund the move, could only offer the player a contract for part of the T20 campaign.

But talented all-rounder Afridi appears to have been lured to Hampshire, who can pay him for the entirety of the summer.

On Saturday, sports management company Aces Middle East, who look after Afridi, tweeted: “Offers for @SAfridiOfficial to play Natwest Blast T20...CPL is not on the plans for this season...Shahid will play the whole season in UK.”

Last season, Afridi was the top pick in the Caribbean Premier League, with the 35-year-old playing for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

But he did not enjoy a successful stay, with his side finishing bottom of the standings.

Afridi enjoyed far more success at Northants, where he spent the first six games of the T20 campaign before returning for finals day.

The Steelbacks beat Birmingham Bears in the semi-finals at Edgbaston before losing to Lancashire Lightning in the showpiece, with Afridi taking three for 14 before hitting 26 in the unsuccessful run chase.

Northants will now be forced to make moves elsewhere as they look to capture a player for this season’s T20 competition.