Somerset have signed South Africa all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe to play in the first eight Friends Provident T20 games, starting against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday.
With Kieron Pollard not being available until the ninth game because of his commitments with the West Indies squad, van der Merwe will act as the club’s second overseas player in the opening half of the competition.
Director of cricket Brian Rose told somersetcountycc.co.uk: “Roelof is a big-hitting batsman, excellent fielder and bowls slow left-arm deliveries, which tend to be very effective in 20-over cricket, so I believe he will prove an excellent signing.
“Knowing that Kieron was not going to be available for a while, we looked at other options in terms of an overseas player, who could bat at six, field well and also bowl effectively in the tournament.
“We first discussed the possibility of Dirk Nannes joining us, but the Australian left-arm seamer wanted to play in all 16 t20 games and I couldn’t offer him that so he has subsequently joined Surrey.
“Then we found out through a contact of mine in South Africa that van der Merwe, who has done exceptionally well with bat and ball for South Africa in Twenty20 cricket, could be available after playing in the Indian Premier League.
“We are allowed to play two overseas players in the t20. Murali Kartik returns to us this week and will be one of them, while Kieron will come over to reclaim his place in our side once Roelof’s spell with us is complete.
Somerset made an inquiry about Roelof last year and have been following his career closely ever since. He has played in 13 T20 matches for South Africa and the same number of one-day internationals.
“We had received reports that he was a really good cricketer, particularly in the Twenty20 format,” said Brian.
“Once we knew that his IPL team would not be qualifying for the later stages of that tournament I moved very quickly to sign him.
“His visa came through on Friday morning and he is due to arrive in England on Sunday evening. We have a t20 practice match arranged for Monday at the County Ground between our batsmen and bowlers so hopefully he will be involved in that.
“Roelof will play against Hampshire and will hopefully be joined in our side by Kartik and Alfonso Thomas. The rest of the team will be made up of players who have done well for us in the Clydesdale Bank 40 so far this season.”