Lancashire have re-signed South Africa batsman Ashwell Prince for a third spell as the county's overseas player. Prince will add experience to the top order as Lancashire set about the defence of their Championship title and will also participate in CB40 matches. He is not expected to play T20 cricket, leaving Lancashire with the potential for two more overseas players.

Although Prince's central contract with South Africa was recently renewed, the 34-year-old lost his place in the Test side to Alviro Petersen in January and was not included on the Proteas' tour of New Zealand. Lancashire will hope to have him available for the full season, though South Africa may be tempted to offer Prince a way back when they tour England, should he score heavily in the early rounds of the County Championship and the experiment with Jacques Rudolph at No. 6 fail.

"I am delighted to be returning to Lancashire for the 2012 season," Prince said. "I love the place and how the lads go about their work. I'm really looking forward to joining up with the squad in early April and contributing to a successful campaign."

Prince has scored more than 12,000 runs in first-class cricket, with 11 centuries in his 66 Tests and an average of 41.64. He first joined Lancashire in 2009 as cover for VVS Laxman, subsequently returning in 2010 for the first few weeks of the season, and head coach Peter Moores has turned to Prince once again to strengthen the batting, following the retirement of Mark Chilton.

"It is fantastic news that Ashwell has rejoined the club," Moores said. "He is a tough competitor who has enjoyed success here before and he will bring some maturity to an emerging squad."

Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's director of cricket, added: "Ashwell is a world-class batsman who has a wealth of experience and talent. He will bring additional quality to the top order and will have a positive influence on the squad. We are delighted to welcome him back to Old Trafford."