WORCESTERSHIRE are hopeful of this week confirming that Australian opening batsman Phil Hughes will be available for the entire 2012 season.
The 23-year-old Test batsman initially signed for the New Road outfit from June until the end of the season but, after losing his place in the Australian Test side, he is now looking to link up in time for the start of the campaign in early April.
Worcestershire originally hoped to recruit Hughes for the whole season but, due to his international commitments, he was looking for a later start date.
However, following his fall from grace with the Australian selectors, discussions have been under way between Hughes’ representatives and the club about extending his deal and an official announcement is expected as soon as today.
“Phil is certainly keen to come and join us in time for the start of the season and we are also keen to have him here then,” confirmed County chief executive David Leatherdale.
“We are hoping Phil will be here for the whole season and we are just waiting to hear back from him and his agent after we sent them the paperwork over the new year.
“We have offered him a deal for the whole season, which is what we originally wanted but, back then, he was potentially going to be on tour with Australia in the West Indies until May.
“However, the likelihood now is that he won’t be involved and hopefully he will be with us for the start of the season. I am expecting the heads of agreement back today or tomorrow.”
After being called up to the Australia team at the age of 20 in February 2009, Hughes became the youngest player to score successive centuries in both innings of a Test Match – in only his second Test.
But a run of poor scores resulted in the left-hander being dropped from the squad for the Boxing Day Test against India and he has remained out of the set-up since.
Meanwhile, Leatherdale revealed talks are on-going in a bid to bring in a second overseas player to bolster the County squad for the Twenty20.
Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who impressed for the New Road club last term, is high on the list of possible targets, but question marks remain over his country’s playing schedule.
Leatherdale said: “We are potentially still looking for a second overseas player for the Twenty20 and Saeed is still very much on our list.
“Conversations have been taking place with Saeed, but finance is an issue. Pakistan’s schedule could also be a factor as there is a rumour they may tour Sri Lanka in June and July, which would rule out a move for Saeed.”