AUSTRALIA T20 captain George Bailey is Hampshire’s replacement for Simon Katich.
Hampshire manager Giles White has released Bilal Shafayat but admits he is unlikely to make any more additions to his squad after signing Bailey, a right-handed top order batsman – as well as Neil McKenzie for another season.
McKenzie will arrive in June, when Bailey is likely to be with Australia at the ICC Champions Trophy.
But the 30-year-old Tasmanian will be available for the rest of his first county season, other than two Twenty20 internationals at the end of August, the first of which is at Rose Bowl.
Bailey, pictured above, has played for the Chennai Super Kings but will not be returning to the Indian Premier League next year.
White admits he is the perfect replacement for Katich, who signed for Lancashire last week.
He said: “George’s availability, with the international schedule as it is in this day and age, was a very important factor and we’re looking at him as a long-term signing.
“I’ve spoken to him a lot on the phone during the winter and have heard glowing reports on him from the likes of Simon Katich and Neil McKenzie, who have come across him a fair bit.
“We had half an eye on him in case McKenzie or Katich didn’t come back. We always wanted another experienced batsman and he’s a good fit – he’s very popular with a good cricket brain.”
Although Hampshire is Bailey’s first county, he is no stranger to the domestic game. He averaged 36.6 in 21 games for Scotland during the 2007 Friends Provident Trophy and the 2010 CB40, including 90 and 43 against Hampshire.
He also hit 81 and 36 in first-class games for Australia A against Derbyshire and Durham last summer.
“That experience will hold him in good stead, he has a good record for a Scotland side that is often up against it,” said White.
Bailey has made 441 runs at 40.09 (strike rate 77.05) in 13 one-day internationals and 203 at 29 (SR 134.4) in 13 Twenty20 internationals.
His claim to fame is he was the first player in more than a century to captain Australia on his debut and led them to a 31-run T20 victory against India at Sydney.
But White says that Bailey, who also captained Tasmania to the 2010/11 Sheffield Shield and has a first class average of 39.71, has also been signed to strengthen Hampshire’s promotion chances in the County Championship.
“He will be influential in the four-day game, his first-class record is good and he’ll be another good sounding board for Jimmy Adams,” added White.
Bailey said: “I’ve heard a lot of good reports about Hampshire as a county and am really looking forward to playing there next year. I can see the guys did very well last year, and knowing that I’m joining a side that has tasted a lot of success in recent times but wants to get even better is a real attraction.”
Despite losing Kabir to Lancashire, as well as Katich, White does not expect to make any more additions.
“Never say never, but I’m very comfortable with what we’ve got,” he said.