North heads south to Hampshire

Marcus North, the Australia batsman, has joined Hampshire for 2009 - his fifth county.

North represented Gloucestershire in 2007 and 2008, following stints with Lancashire, Durham and Derbyshire. In 12 matches last year, North cracked 900 runs at 50, with one hundred and eight fifties.

"He is a very talented and exciting cricketer," said Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, "who I know is relishing the opportunity to score some big runs for Hampshire and really entertain our fans along the way."

Imran Tahir, Hampshire's overseas player last season, is unable to commit to the whole year, hence North's appointment, but will be keen to continue where he left off last year. In just six matches in 2008, he picked up 36 Championship wickets at 17.25.

"Unfortunately it is not possible for Imran to be with us for the whole year, but in Marcus I feel we have a fantastic replacement for the early part of the season," said Giles White, the Hampshire coach. "He is proven in English conditions and his all round package will complement the balance of the side in all formats of the game."