Babar Azam to play Championship match for Somerset

Babar Azam shone on his home debut Getty Images

Babar Azam is in line to play for Somerset in their County Championship match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston next month.

The club announced on Sunday that Babar, the No.1 T20I batsman on the ICC rankings who joined Somerset for the Vitality Blast season, would be its overseas player for the Championship match, beginning on August 18, because registration rules meant there was not enough time to de-register him and re-register fellow Pakistan international Azhar Ali.

As Somerset already have Babar and West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor on their books for the Blast, they have filled their quota of overseas players. With one round of Championship matches wedged into the schedule while the T20 season is still going, the club did not have time to switch Babar out and back in to resume the Blast campaign. As a result, it was decided he would be available for selection for the Championship game, and then make way for Azhar once the Blast season is over, with three more Championship rounds remaining.

Somerset head coach Jason Kerr said: "You can only have two overseas players on the books at one time and due to the regulations, there simply isn't the necessary time frame to re-register Azhar Ali. Fortunately for us Babar Azam has agreed to play in our four-day game at Warwickshire, which falls right in the middle of the Vitality Blast. If he hadn't agreed, we would have been without an overseas player for that match.

"He's fitted in really well and we're all looking forward to seeing him play. Our philosophy is to build a home-grown side with the addition of world class players, and Babar Azam certainly fulfills that criteria. He's one of the game's rising stars and to have him in our side for that one-off game and for him to be a part of our family for the Vitality Blast can only bode well for us."

Azhar will return for the final three Championship matches.

"He's an outstanding character and fully understands the situation," Kerr said of Azhar. "He wanted to put the team first and I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions for us at the back end of the season."