Derbyshire have announced Marcus North as their second overseas player for the 2014 season just a day after the 34-year-old ended a glittering 17-year career in Australian state cricket.
Former Australia batting all-rounder North, who struck five centuries in 21 Tests for his country, will fill the void left by Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s international commitments.
The West Indies batsman is expected to link up with Ottis Gibson’s side for the Test series against New Zealand and Bangladesh in June and September respectively.
North returns to the County Ground, where he enjoyed a successful short spell in 2006 under the captaincy of Derbyshire’s elite performance director Graeme Welch, on the back of one of the best campaigns of his career.
The ex-Western Australia skipper was named the Sheffield Shield player of the season after finishing top of the run charts with 884, at an average of 68, including three hundreds.
Welch, who recently told ecb.co.uk that he was close to a new overseas signing, hailed the capture of the experienced North, saying: “To have a player of Marcus’ experience and calibre joining us is massive for the squad.
“The beauty is that he can take over as our overseas player in one-day and four-day cricket when Shiv is likely to be playing international cricket during the all-important run-in to the end of the season. We think he’s a very shrewd signing in that respect.
“I captained Marcus when he played for us in 2006 and the class he showed with his batting was unbelievable.
“He also really bought into the team environment and – even though he was only with us for a few weeks – he was passionate about playing for Derbyshire.
“I know he’ll do that again, only now he’s returning with international cricket behind him and bags of county experience having played for the likes of Lancashire, Hampshire and Durham.
“You’ve only got to look at the way he’s currently playing in Australia to know what we’re signing. He’s a top-class cricketer.”
North added: “I am delighted to be coming back to Derbyshire. I really enjoyed my stint there a few years back under Graeme Welch, so I am excited to be working with him again.
“I’ve enjoyed arguably one of my best seasons in Australia, so the opportunity to play this specific role for Derbyshire was very exciting and has come at the perfect time in my career.
“They obviously have a talented group of players so hopefully I can assist in getting the boys back up to Division One quick smart. I can’t wait to get over there and start preparing for the season ahead.”