Gloucestershire have signed Kane Williamson, the New Zealand batsman, as their overseas player for the 2011 county season.
Williamson, 20, scored a century on his Test debut against India at Ahmedabad in November and is seen as a vital part of New Zealand's future. He is currently part of the World Cup squad on the subcontinent and will link up with Gloucestershire in time for the new season.
His arrival at Bristol continues the strong association between New Zealand and Gloucestershire fostered by John Bracewell, the former New Zealand spinner, who is the director of cricket. James Franklin has spent considerable time at the club while Hamish Marshall is using his Irish passport to play county cricket.
"The coaching and playing staff have been aware of the proposed signing of Kane for a while now and we are delighted to be able to finally announce it," Bracewell said. "Kane brings his youth and a supposed lack of experience but I can assure Gloucestershire supporters that not only does his early international record indicate great talent but I am aware of his work ethic and personal drive to not just be a good international cricketer but a great one.
"He is the type of player from the Mike Hussey mould; driven to succeed through hard work and dedication and will be a great example not only to our younger players but also to some of our more senior batsmen, who are yet to fulfil their potential."
Tom Richardson, the chief executive, said the club value their strong links with New Zealand. "We have long had a really good association with New Zealand. Obviously from the time John Bracewell has spent coaching the national team and with Craig Spearman, Hamish Marshall, Ian Butler and of course James Franklin having played for Gloucestershire. We have a very good relationship with the cricket association and their chief executive, Justin Vaughan, another former Gloucestershire player, and we want to continue to foster this."
Williamson is Gloucestershire's second overseas signing for the season after they secured the significant coup of bringing Muttiah Muralitharan over for the Friends Provident t20.