Shoaib Akhtar will play for Berkswell in the Third Division of the Birmingham & District Premier League.
The Pakistan fast bowler is presently based at Edgbaston as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left ankle. He is using Warwickshire's gym in an attempt to return to the Pakistan side before the end of the Test series against England and was registered for Berkswell yesterday afternoon, just beating Monday's deadline for signing a 'Category 3' (overseas) player.
Although Shoaib's signing comes too late for him to appear in this Saturday's match against Kings Heath, he should make his debut at home against promotion rivals St Georges on August 5.
His arrival is quite a coup for Berkswell. Although only four teams in all divisions of the League had not used their overseas player allocation, Berkswell are by far the most lowly placed. Barnt Green, Wellington and Wolverhampton - all of whom are in the top couple of divisions - had each expressed an interest in registering the world's fastest bowler.
Warwickshire CCC were keen that a 'Warwickshire club' register Shoaib, however, and contacted Berkswell's captain, and former Warwick-shire stalwart, Dominic Ostler. Ostler also has good links with Pakistan's coach, Bob Woolmer, who coached him at Warwickshire.
Shoaib will not be paid though, in League Representative Paddy Milnes' words "we'll probably waive his £7.50 tea fee." Indeed, Berkswell are prepared to bend a few more of their normal conditions. "We do have a policy that any player, regardless of reputation, will have to prove themselves in our thirds and work their way up into the first team," Milnes said. "But on this occasion we'll probably make an exception."
Ostler is not the only exWarwickshire player at Berkswell. Freddie Klokker, who deputised in a couple of early-season matches, is the team's wicketkeeper. Contrary to reports eleswhere, Shoaib will not represent Warwick-shire in the match against West Indies A. n Warwickshire have appointed James McLaughlin as their commercial director. He will start on Monday. McLoughlin has previously fulfilled similar roles at Watford and Southampton football clubs as well as at Nike.