Hampshire have signed South Africa batsman Hashim Amla as their overseas player for the first three months of the 2018 domestic season. Amla, who has been rated as the No. 1 batsman in both Test and ODI cricket, will be available for County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup action.
The move, coming just after the club completed the signing of Sam Northeast, further strengthens the Hampshire batting and underlines the club's ambition for the coming season. Both men might also be considered captaincy options in due course.
While Giles White, Hampshire's head coach, has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that James Vince will be the first choice-captain in all formats should he be available - his future in the England team could be decided in New Zealand in the coming weeks - both Northeast and Amla have extensive leadership experience.
Either way, Amla's signing confirms that George Bailey will not return. Despite having a year to run on his contract, Bailey had expressed reservations about coming back some time ago and White confirmed he will not be signed for the second half of the season to replace Amla.
"Hashim is an exciting acquisition for us and we feel he'll be an excellent fit within the group we've got, both on and off the pitch," White said.
"He's a world-class player and this addition adds strength and depth to our batting for the first three months of the season. Runs on the board are important and hopefully this will help us achieve that consistently in both the four-day and 50-over competitions. We're looking forward to welcoming Hashim and his family to the club."
Amla said: "I am really pleased to be joining a club like Hampshire. Everyone I have spoken to, who have either played or are currently playing there, have only had good things to say about the team.
"I look forward to spending the first three months of the season with them, which works out well for me to be able to get some high-quality cricket in before the Proteas tour to Sri Lanka in July."
The 34-year-old has previously had spells at Essex (2009), Nottinghamshire (2010), Surrey (2013-14) and Derbyshire (2015) and underlined his comfort in English conditions by becoming the first South African to score a triple-century in Test cricket when reaching a career-best 311 not out against England at The Oval in 2012.