COUNTY champions Yorkshire have added highly-rated Australian batsman Travis Head to their squad for 2016.
The 22-year-old left hander will join the White Rose county in mid July as a replacement for Kane Williamson following the Kiwi’s return to international duty.
Head, who will play in all three formats for Yorkshire, recently made his T20 debut for Australia after a hugely successful Big Bash under Yorkshire’s head coach Jason Gillespie at the Adelaide Strikers.
“Travis is a great signing for us,” said Gillespie, who is back in England after steering the Strikers to the semi-finals of Australia’s T20 competition.
“He has had a terrific season in Australia and is eager to develop his skills in England. The fact that he can adapt to all formats is beneficial to us.
“He will add something different to the squad with his aggressive batting style and his ability with the ball as a genuine spinner.
“He has a lot of maturity for a young man and his cricket intelligence is improving with every match. He will fit in nicely to our system.”
Head’s capture completes Yorkshire’s overseas recruitment for a season that will see the county bid to claim a third consecutive Championship, a feat last achieved between 1966 and 1968.
Williamson, who scored 2,622 runs for New Zealand across all formats in 2015, will arrive in early June and is available for three four-day games, eight in the T20 Blast and three in the One-Day Cup.
He will leave after the T20 clash against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge on July 15 and be replaced by Head.
The Australian, who will play in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore during April, is in the form of his life at the moment.
He hit 299 runs in nine innings for the Strikers in the recent Big Bash at an average of 42.71. The highlight came on New Year’s Eve when he brought the 46,389 crowd at the Adelaide Oval to their feet with an unbeaten 101 against Sydney Sixers.
His brutal knock included nine sixes and four boundaries, as the Strikers successfully chased a target of 177.
Head’s century included hitting each of the 51 runs that the hosts needed to clinch victory from the final three overs. Fittingly, the winning shot was a six off the last ball to bring up his maiden T20 century.
“I can’t wait to get over to England,” said Head, “and play for Yorkshire, the best side in the English game.
“To work alongside ‘Dizzy’ (Jason Gillespie) is also an added attraction. He was brilliant for the Strikers and I have heard so many positive things about what he is doing with the team at Yorkshire.
“To play across all formats is important to me and playing in English conditions will be a good challenge. I can’t wait to get over and make an impact.”
Head will arrive on July 18, meaning the first game he is likely to be available for is the T20 Blast clash with Durham at Headingley two days later.
His first potential four-day outing will also be at Headingley, against Warwickshire between August 4-7.
Last year, he was appointed captain of South Australia Redbacks – becoming, at 21, the youngest to lead the state in the Sheffield Shield.
Head’s Australia debut came against India in last month’s two-match T20 series. He was presented with his Australia cap by Gillespie on the field at the Adelaide Oval ahead of play getting under way.
His upcoming stint in the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore will involve playing alongside Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and former Yorkshire seam bowler Mitchell Starc.
England preview: Page 25.