Warwickshire have not given up hope of signing Mushtaq Ahmed as the club step up their attempts to bring world-class players to Edgbaston.

Though Warwickshire have previously been informed that the leg-spinner has agreed a new deal with Sussex, they now understand that contract talks have not progressed as planned.

Representatives of the player, who are hoping to resolve his future quickly, have now let it be known that is willing to listen to other offers.

"We are still hopeful that we can bring 'Mushy' to Edgbaston," Warwickshire's chief executive, Colin Povey, confirmed last night. "We have certainly not given up hope of signing him."

Relegation from Pro-40 Division One - confirmed by results on Monday night - appears to have concentrated minds concerning a need for new recruits.

Other targeted players include Shane Bond and Stephen Fleming, while a host of South African Test players are also considering their international futures.

An inflexible attitude from the national cricket board and the prospect of guaranteed high salaries in county cricket are likely to prove irresistible to some.

The Indian Cricket League is sure to prove the catalyst to such decisions. Several national cricket boards - including New Zealand - have already forbidden their players from taking part in the 'unofficial' Twenty20 tournament.

The huge salaries on offer for those participating may prove immensely attractive, however, especially to older players who have lost the taste for the travelling inherent in international cricket.

The club have also lodged an official approach for Derbyshire's Boyd Rankin. The 23-year-old came to prominence as a key part of the Ireland side that progressed to the last eight of the World Cup earlier this year and gains steepling bounce from his 6ft 8in frame.

Though he has failed to impress in county cricket, Warwickshire feel - with some justification - that he has the potential to develop into a dangerous bowler.

There may be some cynicism from members about the timing of such news. With a lively members' forum anticipated tomorrow evening, the club may be seeking appeasement by being linked with such high-profile recruitment.

One stumbling block ahead of any signings is likely to be the identity of the director of cricket at Edgbaston. Mark Greatbatch's reputation around the county circuit is not high.

For while Warwickshire are confident that they can offer as competitive a financial package as anyone, the likes of Fleming and Mushtaq are looking for more than money from their time in county cricket.

It will take a remarkable act of persuasion to lure them from Nottinghamshire and Sussex respectively.