Alex Hales will link up with former England coach Trevor Bayliss for the first time since he was banished from the national side on the eve of the 2019 World Cup after securing a deal to return to Sydney Thunder in the BBL.
Hales has not played for England since he failed two recreational drug tests shortly before the tournament that the hosts went on to win two years ago although Bayliss ended his time as coach at the end of that summer following the Ashes.
He was overlooked for a recall when England had to select an entirely new ODI squad for the series against Pakistan earlier this year following a Covid-19 outbreak among the original group.
Hales has been prolific for Thunder over the last two seasons with hauls of 576 and 543 runs including a top score of 110 in the 2020-21 campaign which saw Thunder reach the Knockout final where they were eliminate by Brisbane Heat.
He has also recently completed an impressive T20 Blast tournament for Nottinghamshire with 482 runs at 43.81 and a strike-rate of 178.51 during which he made the fifth hundred of his career.
"The culture at Sydney Thunder, both on and off the field, is something special and I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of it again," Hales said. "Over the last two seasons I have seen first-hand how this franchise is putting together a squad who believes they can win the BBL and that's the case this summer more than ever."
Thunder now have 14 players locked in ahead of the new BBL season which is due to start on December 5 with at least one more overseas signing to come. They are yet to confirm who their captain will be following the departure of Callum Ferguson although Usman Khawaja is the favourite.
Hales is the latest in a recent group of overseas players confirmed in the BBL alongside Carlos Brathwaite and James Vince (Sydney Sixers), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Brisbane Heat) and Sandeep Lamichhane (Hobart Hurricanes). Tom Curran (Sixers) and Tom Banton (Brisbane Heat), who did not play last season, are on multi-year deals.
Overseas players will again have to undergo two weeks quarantine when they arrive in Australia ahead of the tournament due to the Covid-19 border restrictions in place and it remains to be seen whether all the clubs will be able to fill their slots.
Fringe England players are likely to continue to be sought after with a large number set to already be in Australia in the lead-up to the Ashes with an England Lions fixture penciled in at the same time as the first Test. However, anyone involved in the Lions match (December 9-12) would not be available for the early matches in the BBL and England have an ODI series in West Indies in late January which would mean anyone selected for that tour would not be available for the latter part of the tournament.
Sydney Thunder Jonathan Cook, Ben Cutting, Ollie Davies, Brendan Doggett, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Alex Hales (England), Baxter Holt, Usman Khawaja, Nathan McAndrew, Alex Ross, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, Chris Tremain
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo