Warwickshire are reeling from the news that Makhaya Ntini will not be available for the final few weeks of the season - and could turn to Australia's Ashes squad for help.
The fast bowler has been recalled by the United Cricket Board of South Africa for a training camp beginning next Wednesday even though South Africa do not have any international commitments until mid-October.
The club were last night involved in desperate attempts to retain the services of Ntini. But, as a player contracted to Cricket SA, there is little Warwickshire or Ntini can do.
Contingency plans are already being considered and the club are scouring the country for suitable replacements, with eyes inevitably focusing on the Australian squad in action at The Oval.
That has led to the intriguing prospect of Brett Lee or Glenn McGrath opening the bowling for Warwickshire during the final couple of weeks of the season, though the Cricket Australia may well have views of their own on that.
Without Ntini, the Warwickshire attack appears worryingly thin. A new-ball attack of Dougie Brown and Neil Carter, backed by James Anyon and Naqaash Tahir, would seem to lack bite.
While the news once again vindicates captain Nick Knight's cynicism over the issue of overseas players, it also sounds the death knell for a return to Warwickshire of Ntini.
Although the player himself says he would love to stay at Edgbaston until the end of the season and return next year, the club are sure to be wary. Ntini was also barred by his board from playing county cricket in 2004 and Warwickshire will never be able to rely upon his availability.
Depending on the timing of flights, it is just about possible that Ntini could play in the key Championship match against Surrey starting on Saturday but there is a great deal of important cricket to be played after that.
Warwickshire need to round off the season well in the totesport League in order to clinch promotion while survival in the Championship is not guaranteed. Defeat against Surrey would result in a nervous final match against Gloucestershire.
This latest setback rounds off a dreadful week for Warwickshire. Their Championship and Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy ambitions were dashed by Hampshire while the team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Somerset on Monday night to damage their hopes of lifting the totesport Division Two title.
Meanwhile, the club have put off the 'hire-and-fire' cricket committee meeting until the end of the month. By then, it is hoped that the new coach will have been appointed and their input will be sought before any big decisions are made. Mark Greatbatch and Andy Moles are the clear favourites for the role but John Wright, tipped by some, did not apply.
The captaincy may also be decided sooner rather than later and Heath Streak remains the overwhelming favourite. I understand that he is likely to retire from international cricket in order to concentrate on his county commitments.
One man likely to be joining the club is Sussex's Tim Ambrose. The 22-year-old is the outstanding candidate among available wicketkeeper-batsmen, particularly since Luke Sutton seems destined to sign for Lancashire.
Keith Piper also looks set to be re-registered as a player after the expiry of his drugs ban. Despite a burgeoning waistline, Piper remains a safe pair of hands behind the stumps. Although he is unlikely to be re-signed as a player, the club would like the security of his availability as a back-up.