WORCESTERSHIRE have pulled off the eye-catching capture of Australian international Phil Hughes as their overseas player for the forthcoming season.
The left-handed opener is set to join up with the County during the first week of June in time for the start of the Twenty20 competition and will be at New Road until the end of the campaign.
The 23-year-old left-hander, who has scored 1,072 runs in 17 Tests, earned his Australia call-up aged just 20 and soon became the youngest player to score successive centuries in both innings of a Test match.
Hughes said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be heading back to England in 2012.
“Worcestershire are a quality organisation and I can’t wait to meet my new team-mates and reacquaint myself with English conditions.
“My previous stint in England helped my batting enormously and I have high expectations that spending the 2012 Australian winter in the UK will do the same.
“I look forward to helping Worcestershire be a force in all forms of the game.”
A potential Australia ‘A’ call-up for their tour of England could see Hughes miss up to three weeks of his 16-week stay, but the deal represents a sound piece of business by the Worcestershire chiefs regardless.
New Road director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “To gain the signature of the current Australian Test match opener is a tremendous boost for the club and the players for the 2012 season.
“Phil is a heavy run-scorer with a career ratio of a century every four games in first-class cricket.
“In 2009, he amassed 574 first-class runs in three games for Middlesex, including three centuries, which demonstrates his hunger for run-scoring.
“I look forward to working closely with Phil during the second-half of the season.”
Meanwhile, chief executive David Leatherdale revealed the County are in talks with Saeed Ajmal’s representatives in a bid to re-sign the Pakistan international.
Ajmal impressed in his stint at New Road last term and Worcestershire are keen to bring him back as their second overseas player, alongside Hughes, for the Twenty20.
Leatherdale explained: “We are interested in signing Saeed again. We have spoken to him and his agent and talks are under way.
“It would be for the Twenty20, when we are allowed two overseas players, but it all depends on Pakistan’s schedule which still hasn’t been finalised.
“After Saeed did so well for us last season, other teams are also interested in him. He is talking to other clubs too.”