County news September 6, 2015

Hampshire explore Watson capture

Shane Watson could be heading back to Hampshire now that his Test career is over.

Watson, who announced his retirement from Test cricket on Sunday, admitted to ESPNcricinfo he had held "general discussions with the club's chairman, Rod Bransgrove" but has yet to agree a deal.

Watson enjoyed a successful stint at the club in 2004 and 2005 - he was in the side that won the C&G Trophy at Lord's in 2005 - and has maintained a close relationship with Bransgrove. He has been linked with a return on several occasions - he actually signed for them in 2008, but did not play - but has been busy with international commitments. The news that his Test career is over would appear to have removed that obstacle.

"I absolutely loved my time playing at Hampshire and I'd love to play here again," Watson said during the ODI in Southampton last week.

It is understood that Watson is being lined up to play only white ball cricket for Hampshire, with another overseas player signed for Championship cricket.

Hampshire are looking to strengthen after a disappointing year in the County Championship which has left them fighting to avoid relegation from Division One. They have already announced the signing of left-arm swing bowler, Reece Topley, and are understood to be talking to South African seamers Ryan McLaren and Kyle Abbott about joining the club.

McLaren, 32, who is currently at the club as an overseas player, would be a Kolpak registration, while Abbott, who played T20 cricket for Hampshire in 2014 and was a frequent visitor to the club this year during a spell at Middlesex, has made it clear he would only sign as an overseas player.

"Those players are in our thoughts," Giles White, the Hampshire coach, told ESPNcricinfo. "But nothing firm has been agreed."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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