Hampshire turn to George Bailey
George Bailey, Australia's Twenty20 captain, will play for Hampshire as their overseas player in 2013. The club have also agreed a new one-year deal with former South Africa batsman Neil McKenzie, who will be available as a Kolpak player in all competitions from June.
Hampshire, the reigning Friends Life t20 and Clydesdale Bank 40 champions, recently lost out on the services of Simon Katich, who has agreed to join Lancashire for next season. Bailey, the first Australian since the very first Test match in 1877 to make his debut as captain, averages nearly 40 in first-class cricket and will help fill the hole left by Katich.
Being based in England may also aid his international chances, with the Champions Trophy being held in the country, followed by the Ashes. Although Bailey has yet to feature in Test cricket, Australia's tour includes five ODIs and two T20 internationals, the first of which will take place at Hampshire's West End ground.
"I've heard a lot of good reports about Hampshire as a county and am really looking forward to playing there next year," Bailey said. "It's my first time playing for a county and the talks with Giles White have been very positive. I can see the guys did very well last year, and knowing that I'm joining a side that has tasted a lot of success in recent times but wants to get even better is a real attraction."
Bailey has previous experience of playing in in the UK, having featured on Australia A's tour of England in 2012. He has also played for Scotland as their overseas player in domestic one-day competition, averaging 36.63 with one century, as well as an innings of 90 against Hampshire in 2010.
Hampshire manager, Giles White, said: "We are excited by the arrival of George, who fits the age profile of the squad well and adds further leadership and batting quality to the group. We hope that this is the start of an ongoing relationship and that he plays a part in shaping the future fortunes of the club."
McKenzie will also be part of Hampshire's squad, for the fourth year running. The 36-year-old was a member of the team that won both domestic limited-overs competitions in 2012 and also played a crucial role in Hampshire's 2010 T20 success.
"I'm very happy to be returning to Hampshire next year," he said. "I always enjoy my time playing county cricket and the family has found a home from home in Southampton. We did pretty well this year but promotion to County Championship Division One is a priority and I'm sure we can do it."
There is no place for Bilal Shafayat in Hampshire's plans for next season, however. Having joined on a one-year contract after impressing on trial, Shafayat made 289 runs at 28.90 in eight Championship appearances and has not been retained.