THE decision by Pakistani Cricket officials to ban three of its star players from participating in the coming Big Bash League could make it difficult for the Brisbane Heat to sign its fourth and final international player.
Shahid Afridi, Saaed Ajmal and Umar Akmal were set to take part in the BBL tournament, due to start in Melbourne on December 7, but have instead been ordered home to prepare for Pakistan's coming tour of India.
Ajmal was due to play for the Adelaide Strikers, Afridi had agreed to terms with the Sydney Thunder and Akmal had signed with the Sydney Sixers.
The Heat has signed three of its allowable quota of internationals - West Indian fast bowler Kemar Roach, New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori and South African quick Dale Steyn (for one game).
A spokesperson for the franchise yesterday said negotiations had been well progressed with a likely fourth candidate, but the Pakistani developments could make it hard to complete the deal.
"All of a sudden any available, uncontracted international players are of major interest," he said.
Should the Heat finish in the top two in the BBL, it would earn a place in next year's T20 Champions League final, meaning Steyn would be eligible to play despite the fact he will only suit up in the first game against Tasmania.
Brisbane also has one other position available in its 18-man roster.
The spot was due to be decided after yesterday's final round of the T20 Challenge, but the matches had to be postponed after Saturday's severe storms that swept through Brisbane inundated the pitch at Valleys in Ashgrove.
With the final roster of players due to submitted by November 30, Heat selectors, including coach Darren Lehmann, will name a player based on the two rounds of the competition played to date.
Some of those to stand out who are not already contracted include Steve Paulsen, Andrew Robinson and PNG batsman Asad Vala.
The third T20 Challenge match will be played on December 2 and a second player may be added from that to the Heat's six-man supplementary list which must be submitted by December 6.