Hampshire after replacement for Watson
Hampshire hope to find an overseas replacement for Shane Watson in time for the start of the Twenty20 Cup - despite a congested international schedule.
The Hampshire Hawks' Twenty20 hopes were dealt a cruel blow early yesterday morning when Australia called up Watson to replace the injured Matthew Hayden in their one-day party a week before the county's opening game against the Middlesex Crusaders at the Rose Bowl.
Watson was the star of the inaugural Indian Premier League after performing with bat and ball as the Rajasthan Royals won the competition on Sunday.
The 26-year-old finished as the IPL's leading scorer and also took 17 wickets while opening the bowling for the winning franchise.
With Twenty20 Finals Day being hosted at the Rose Bowl for the first time this year, Hampshire had hoped Watson would lead them to similar success this summer.
But the all-rounder will be playing against the West Indies in the Caribbean instead.
Hampshire manager Paul Terry was told the news by his wife Bernadette, who rang him from Perth yesterday morning.
He said: "I also got a call from Watto. He's obviously delighted to be back in the Australia squad.
"But at the same time he was very sorry not to be coming back."
Watson enjoyed spells with Hampshire in 2004 and 2005 and was set to play in three Championship matches in July as well as this year's Twenty20 Cup.
Terry continued: "We've tried to get Watto back on a few occasions because of his quality but have failed again.
"There's always some risk involved when you try and sign a high-profile guy like Shane Watson, especially with Australia's itinerary being the way it is.
"When we signed him my understanding was that he was going to have to do a fair bit to get back into the Australian side.
"The dice aren't rolling our way at the moment but we have to stay positive.
"Hopefully this proves to be the last straw and things pick up from here!"
Hampshire host a Middlesex Crusaders side likely to include former captain Shaun Udal under the Rose Bowl floodlights on Wednesday.
"We haven't got a lot of time so hopefully we can get someone in as quick as we can," added Terry.
"We're already in the process of looking for an overseas replacement and I've got a few names in mind but we're not in a position where we can choose between this or that.
"With New Zealand and South Africa playing over here, Australia playing the West Indies and India, Bangladesh and Pakistan joining Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup after their tri-series, there are not a lot of options open to us."
Hampshire have already signed Kolpak pair Nantie Hayward and Rory Kleinveldt for the remainder of the season.
The South Africans will have a big role to play for Hampshire during the Twenty20 Cup because Dimitri Mascarenhas and Chris Tremlett will both be playing for England during their one-day series against New Zealand.