Hampshire miss out on Watson
Shane Watson's mooted return to Hampshire will not happen in 2016, the Australian allrounder has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo. Watson held preliminary talks to join the county for the Natwest T20 Blast and Royal London Cup after his retirement from Test cricket following Australia's 2015 Ashes defeat, but the move has not progressed further.
Watson has been playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League and was on Monday called up to Australia's T20 squad to face India, putting him in contention for a spot in the World T20 squad. He will play for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League and enter the IPL auction next month (he previously played for Rajasthan Royals, who are banned from this year's competition), as well take part in the Caribbean Premier League in July.
The timing of the CPL in July, combined with the length of the English competition - the Blast runs mainly on Friday nights from May 15 to August 15, before Finals Day a fortnight later - meant Watson felt unable to commit to a return to Hampshire, especially as he would automatically miss the competition's first two weeks if picked up in the IPL auction, as expected, and his team made the finals. The Royal London Cup runs through June, July and August before a final in September.
Watson previously played for Hampshire in 2004 and 2005, helping them to win the C&G Trophy in his second year at the club, and remains open to the possibility of playing again but believes the current format makes it too difficult this season.
Hampshire have signed South African seamer Ryan McLaren as an overseas player across formats for 2016, although it is understood that he could yet become a Kolpak registration. Another target, Kyle Abbott, who played for the county in 2014, has joined Worcestershire, meaning they still have an overseas spot available in T20 cricket.
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp