Hampshire: Jackson Bird & Yasir Arafat join Division Two champions

Jackson Bird
Bird made the most recent of his three Australian Test appearances in the fourth Ashes Test in 2013

Promoted Hampshire have strengthened their pace attack by signing Australian Test bowler Jackson Bird and vastly experienced ex-Pakistan international Yasir Arafat for the 2015 season.

Bird, 27, will join Hampshire for the first three months of the season.

Arafat, 32, joins his sixth English first-class county, having previously played for Kent, Lancashire, Somerset, Surrey and had three spells at Sussex.

Fast bowler Ruel Brathwaite and keeper Michael Bates have both been released.

Hampshire's new additions to their pace attack
Right-arm fast-medium bowler Jackson Bird enjoyed an impressive debut season for Tasmania in 2011-12, finishing the Sheffield Shield's leading wicket-taker. He made his Test debut for Australia in December 2012.
Yasir Arafat, who also bowls right-arm fast-medium, took 33 wickets in one-day cricket for Sussex in 2014. He has a wealth of experience in world one-day cricket having also played for Scotland, Rawalpindi Rams, Otago, Perth Scorchers, Dolphins, Canterbury and Barisal Burners, as well as spells with Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Lancashire and Somerset.

Bates, 23, part of the Hampshire team which won two one-day trophies, played in seven of the county's 16 Championship matches this summer but lost his place to Adam Wheater during the second half of the season.

He has taken 136 catches in 46 first-class matches since making his debut in April 2010, while Brathwaite, 29, arrived from Durham in 2013.

Hampshire are also looking at bringing back South African Kyle Abbott, who took 36 wickets in nine matches over the first half of this summer, as a potential replacement when Bird's stint comes to an end.

"Kyle Abbott is someone we will continue to keep in touch with," said Hampshire director of cricket Giles White. "He fitted in exceptionally well this year and has voiced a desire to return if international commitments allow. But we're delighted to have both Jackson and Yasir on board for next season.

Michael Bates
Michael Bates won the CB40 and the T20 with Hampshire in 2012

"At a time of the year that is likely to suit his style of bowling, we hope Jackson has a positive influence on our return to Division One and Yasir has the flexibility to play all our one-day cricket, An added bonus is that his qualification status may allow him to play as a 'local' during his time with us."

Pace bowler David Balcombe has also left the Ageas Bowl after agreeing a two-year contract with Surrey.

Meanwhile, spinner Brad Taylor, 17, and promising seam bowler Basil Akram, 21, have signed development contracts with the club.

In 2013, Taylor became the youngest Hampshire player to appear in the first team since 1867.