Worcestershire are searching for another overseas player after learning that they are likely to be without Phil Jaques for a substantial part of the season.
The club, who were recently obliged to recruit Zaheer Khan after Nathan Bracken dropped out at short notice, understand that Jaques is highly likely to be recalled to Australia to take part in some A team matches this summer.
He will also miss the start of the county season as he is touring Bangladesh with Australia, having scored a Test-best 66 on Monday in the second Test match. After that he is to marry and depart on honeymoon. He is expected on May 16 but will be with the club little more than six weeks before his likely return to Australia.
"Australia have first call on Phil's services," Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire's director of coaching, told The Post. "It can be very frustrating but we just have to get on with it. It will affect other counties too. The likes of Duncan Thornely at Hampshire will probably be involved.
"We're always looking for overseas players now. You have to be but we're only interested in players who fit in with the rest of the spirit in the dressing-room. They have to be right for what we are trying to achieve.
"There will be plenty of opportunity for younger players at the club. We have only 17 in the squad so everyone knows they have a chance of a first-team place. They all have something to play for and the likes of Daryl Mitchell are desperate to cement a first-team place.
"That's not the case at Warwickshire, who have a very large squad, with several players knowing they have no chance of playing first-team cricket."
Worcestershire are scouring the market for a short-term replacement for Jaques, though that would appear to go against the policy Rhodes himself outlined at the club's annual meeting a few weeks ago. That night he spoke strongly against short-term signings.
In what was understood to be a thinly-veiled reference to the unsettling presence of Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar last summer, Rhodes suggested that such actions could prove disruptive in the dressing-room.
He said then: "We need to make the dressing-room home to a team, not a room full of individuals."
He repeated the point at the club's media day at New Road yesterday when he said: "The dressing-room is very important in terms of getting the right environment to be able to play cricket well.
"You need those guys totally committed to each other, totally committed to the team as opposed to their individual game. The team's success is what we want to achieve. To me the most important thing is getting that dressing-room right and the guys pulling together.
"With a positive environment, I am confident we will improve our cricket. There are a lot of talented cricketers in our dressing-room."
Worcestershire's predicament is not unusual. Several counties have been let down by their overseas players at short notice, supporting the view of those who question the committment of overseas players in county cricket.
It is one thing for a player to win an unexpected international call-up. But when players are able to back out of agreed county contracts for international 'training sessions' (witness Makhaya Ntini's departure from Warwickshire last year) or A team matches, then it is clearly time for the clubs to take action. The days of two overseas players per county could well be numbered.