Warwickshire have announced the signing of South Africa opening batsman Pieter Malan for the 2021 County Championship season.

Warwickshire had been openly targeting an experienced batsman as their overseas player for their red-ball campaign after Ian Bell's retirement at the end of the 2020 season. They were linked with a move for Cheteshwar Pujara, but his availability was unclear after he was signed by Chennai Super Kings in last week's IPL auction, and talks never reached an advanced stage.

Malan, 31, played his only three Tests to date in South Africa's home series against England in January 2020, making 156 runs across six innings at an average of 26.00. He is Cape Cobras' leading run-scorer in the ongoing four-day franchise competition, with 374 in 10 innings, and will add further experience to a top order likely to include Dom Sibley, Will Rhodes and Sam Hain. He is due to be available for the duration of the red-ball season.

Paul Farbrace, Warwickshire's director of cricket, said: "Pieter is a very good signing for us. He has played a lot of cricket in South Africa and he has a very impressive batting average across all three formats. He played against England last winter and I think he has been unlucky not to play more international cricket.

"We have got some very talented young batsmen in our top order and for them to work with, and bat out in the middle with, someone of Pieter's experience and quality will be brilliant for them. Pieter is also a very impressive man, friendly, likeable and polite, but with real inner steel and with a point to prove. I know how much he wants to come to the Bears and score some serious runs."

Malan said: "It's always been an ambition of mine to play county cricket and I'm very excited to be afforded the opportunity at a top county with a proud history like Warwickshire. I can't wait to get to Edgbaston and get started with the Bears."

Malan is likely to be Warwickshire's final overseas signing of the season, after they confirmed the arrival of Carlos Brathwaite for the T20 Blast. Farbrace has previously said that he will look to use the Royal London Cup as an opportunity for young players to gain first-team experience - with Henry Brookes, Danny Briggs, Adam Hose and Olly Stone due to miss the competition to play in the Hundred - rather than signing an overseas player for that stage of the season.