Australian news June 17, 2011

Queensland sign batsman Peter Forrest

ESPNcricinfo staff

The batsman Peter Forrest has become the first major player to switch states during the 2011 off-season after signing a two-year deal with Queensland. Forrest, 25, has spent five seasons trying to establish a full-time place in the New South Wales line-up but his opportunities have been limited, despite him showing enough promise to be picked for Australia A.

Forrest played five Sheffield Shield matches last summer and five the season before as the Blues juggled a talented squad, and he should be given plenty of game-time with the Bulls. Queensland chased Forrest ahead of last season when he remained contracted to New South Wales, and the new Bulls coach Darren Lehmann said it was pleasing to have signed him up this time.

"I think Pete will complement the line-up we have nicely," Lehmann said. "I'm looking forward to getting him into the group and working with him. He's caught the eye at a number of levels in the past and now the opportunity is ahead of him to take his game up a notch again."

Forrest's standout summer came in 2009-10, when he averaged 64.57 from five Sheffield Shield appearances, and he was picked for Australia A to play Sri Lanka A later that year. He said he was looking forward to the challenge of heading north to Queensland to add to his 31 first-class outings and 16 one-day games.

"In making this announcement, it should be noted that I'm very grateful for the time and effort that Cricket NSW put in for me," Forrest said. "But I'm approaching a wonderful new challenge and I'd like to thank Queensland Cricket for the opportunity they have given me. I'm very excited to join the Bulls squad, which has got a number of good young players in the group, and also to work with Darren Lehmann."

Meanwhile, Tasmania have picked up the allrounder Matt Johnston, who has spent five seasons on the fringes of the Western Australia side. Johnston, 25, has signed a one-year deal with the Tigers, who have also secured the rookie swing bowler Sam Rainbird, a talented Australian rules footballer who has decided to focus on cricket.

All six states are in the process of finalising their squads for 2011-12 after the players and Cricket Australia agreed to a new memorandum of understanding last week. The introduction of the eight-team Big Bash League means players will sign separate contracts for Twenty20 and first-class/one-day cricket, and there will be a reduction in the number of state contracts offered.