Matthew Wade has signed an all-format deal with Worcestershire for the 2022 season, with the club saying that the Australian would be used primarily as a top-five batter.
Wade, whose experience in the English county circuit so far has been limited to an appearance with Birmingham Bears in the T20 Blast, said in a club statement that he was excited at the opportunity to "experience the challenge of a full season" of county cricket. And from the point of view of the county, signing Wade should be seen as a "sign of our intent", cricket steering group chairman Paul Pridgeon said.
Wade, the 33-year-old wicketkeeper-batter, is currently in Bangladesh, leading Australia in a five-T20I series as they look to finetune their personnel ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year. "I'm really looking forward to joining up with what's an exciting group of players at Worcestershire for next season," he said. "I have always wanted to experience the challenge of a full season of county cricket, and I jumped at the opportunity to join Worcestershire as soon as it came about.
"New Road is one of the world's most recognisable cricket grounds, and I loved playing there as part of the Ashes tour in 2019. I can't wait to get going."
Tasmanian Wade has so far played 36 Tests (1613 runs and 85 dismissals) as well as 97 ODIs (1867 runs and 117 dismissals) and 43 T20Is (613 runs and 25 dismissals), and is vastly experienced, having turned out in 156 first-class matches, 180 List A games and 144 T20s since starting his professional career in 2007.
"We have signed him as a batter. He is a real hard-nosed batter in red-ball cricket and a dangerous striker in white-ball cricket," Pridgeon said. "We think he will add a lot to our group and will be particularly helpful for the young players.
"He is a real winner, he knows how to win, and we feel that will rub off on some of the young lads and be good for their development. Matthew has also got a lot of captaincy experience, which will undoubtedly come in helpful to the likes of Joe Leach, Ben Cox and Jake Libby and people like that."
Calling it "an old-fashioned overseas signing", to mean that Wade wouldn't just be slotting in for a few games and, instead, stay for the whole six months, Pridgeon said, "We have been conscious that we needed something at the top of the order to spark us. He gives us a lot in all three competitions, and it is a sign of our intent to try and to continue to improve.
"He can bat anywhere in the top five. I want to stress that he is here as a batsman and to help to develop the younger players. It is something we felt we needed. It is great to get it done and dusted so early for next season."
Under the current schedule, Australia are due to tour Sri Lanka in the middle of next year but Wade lost his Test place after the series against India earlier this year.