Rob Nicol, the New Zealand batsman, has agreed to join Gloucestershire for the final two months of the season. He will replace compatriot Kane Williamson, who leaves the club at the end of next week to join New Zealand's tour of the West Indies.
Nicol is on standby for that tour so he won't arrive in the UK until the second week of the Cheltenham festival; Gloucestershire's second Championship match at the outground begins on July 18 against Leicestershire. His late arrival means that Gloucestershire will only have one overseas player - Muttiah Muralitharan - for the final six matches of their FLt20 campaign.
Nicol, 29, is an opening batsman who made his Test debut against South Africa in the first Test at in Dunedin in March. He played the second Test at Hamilton before being dropped for the third Test. He has fared better in nine one-day internationals, scoring 391 runs in nine matches, including a best of 146, albeit versus Zimbabwe, against whom he has made five other appearances.
"He would be a like-for-like replacement for Kane Williamson and has a very good first-class record," John Bracewell, Gloucestershire's director of cricket, said. Nicol has scored 4,537 first-class runs at 34.37 with 10 centuries. He began his career with Auckland before moving to Canterbury in 2009.
The deal to sign Nicol is part of the relationship Bracewell, the former New Zealand Test player and coach, has developed with New Zealand Cricket. As part of the agreement, Gloucestershire receive promising young New Zealand players to provide them with experience and grounding in English conditions, as well as bolstering the county's squad.
Williamson was the first player to join Gloucestershire under the arrangement. He scored 831 runs at 36.13 in 13 matches last season but has been in fine form in four matches this year, with two centuries in his 366 runs at 52.28. Gloucestershire will be hoping Nicol can produce similar form in their final seven matches of the season.