Worcestershire will look to recruit "at least one" spinner ahead of the 2021 season, but have confirmed that Wayne Parnell's time at the club has come to an end due to the closure of the Kolpak loophole.
At a virtual members' forum, chairman Fanos Hira revealed that the club had suffered a £1.8m loss in anticipated commercial revenues, but had saved around £500,000 thanks to the government's job retention scheme.
Parnell, the South African left-arm seamer, signed a three-year deal with the club at the end of the 2018 season, having spent that summer at New Road as an overseas player.
He took 22 wickets in Worcestershire's run to the Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-finals in 2019, and was a key cog in the T20 side that fell at the final hurdle looking to defend their Blast title, but international travel restrictions left him unable to play this season. He has not played international cricket since 2017, but at 31 it is not impossible that he could yet launch a South Africa comeback.
Along with Parnell, top-order batsman Olly Westbury and slow left-armer Ben Twohig have also been released, and Twohig's departure leaves Worcestershire short on spinners. With Moeen Ali likely to miss much of the summer due to England and franchise T20 commitments, legspinner Brett D'Oliveira - who managed only six Bob Willis Trophy wickets at 52.00 this summer - is the only first-team spin option on the club's books, discounting Jake Libby's occasional offbreaks and Daryl Mitchell's slow-medium cutters.
That means that Worcestershire are openly seeking the signature of a spinner, whether domestic or overseas. R Ashwin, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Santner have all previously had stints at New Road and may be attractive options depending on the Future Tours Programme and their wage demands, while Keshav Maharaj has also been linked with the club. On the domestic front, there are fewer obvious candidates, with Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Danny Briggs (Warwickshire) and Matt Critchley (Derbyshire) among the English spinners to have signed new deals ahead of 2021.
Hira said that Worcestershire's "working assumption" is that fans will be able to return to games next summer, with the hope that they will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity. He also downplayed the fact that the club's main sponsors, Blackfinch Investments, pulled the plug on a five-year sponsorship deal two years early, suggesting that the club "do have new sponsors in the pipeline", and revealed that they will be making use of the government's job support scheme from November 1.
"It is an enormous challenge for a club like ours but perhaps less so than for many other sporting organisations," Hira said. "We feel that we are on top of things. We have a very lean structure. We took some decisive and necessary action last year, which means our cost base is lower than our peers."