Hampshire’s Shane Watson return hopes ended

Shane Watson celebrates a ODI century for Australia against England at the Ageas Bowl in 2013 Picture: Neil Marshall

Shane Watson celebrates a ODI century for Australia against England at the Ageas Bowl in 2013 Picture: Neil Marshall

Nic McMurray

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Hampshire are closing in on their T20 Blast overseas player for next season – but have confirmed that Shane Watson will not be rejoining the club next season.

The Australian all-rounder played for the club in 2005 and was tipped for a possible return after announcing his retirement from Test cricket.

But his decision to continue to make himself available for limited-overs selection has scuppered any plans – at least for the 2016 campaign.

Director of cricket Giles White, however, has confirmed that the club are closing in on their final piece of the jigsaw for next season, having already secured Ryan McLaren, Fidel Edwards and Reece Topley.

White said: ‘We’ve got someone lined up but we haven’t got it over the line quite yet.

‘We’re hoping we will be in a position to announce something in the next two weeks.

‘It’s not Shane Watson.

‘We spoke to him a while ago and he wants to continue to play white-ball cricket for Australia, so that ruled him out.

‘But there is a real intent to have him back at a stage when it feels right and he feels the same.

‘He wants to come back at some stage but it’s a case of fitting it into his international aspirations.’

While White was staying tight-lipped on the club’s target, he seems quitely confident it will be confirmed within the next fortnight.

He said: ‘We’ve been looking for a strong t20 player who can give us some explosive batting and is a dynamic cricketer.

‘That’s the type of player we have been looking for and I think we are close to sealing the deal.

‘But these things take a little longer than you hope.

‘He would bat in the lower/middle-order and would also bowl.

‘I think it would give us a bit of impetus at the back end of an innings.

‘In the past couple of years we haven’t quite done that as well as we have in the past with people like Dimi Mascarenhas and Shahid Afridi.

‘I think we have missed that.

‘The balance of the team needs someone who can strike it out of the park lower down the order and win us a game.

‘We’ve got someone who fits that bill in the pipeline.’

Meanwhile, two Hamphire players have signed up to a special three-day cricket coaching course being held over the Christmas period.

All-rounder Liam Dawson and wicketkeeper-batsman Lewis McManus will be passing on their expertise.

Dawson, who is currently away with the England Performance Programme, will be coaching at the Ageas Bowl, while McManus will be running sessions in Dorset.

For more information on visit ageasbowl.com/coaching or contact Sam Bracey on 075000 05698.

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