George Bailey, Hampshire’s captain in 2017’s Specsavers County Championship, will not return for the new season, it was confirmed today.
Club chairman Rod Bransgrove told reporters at a press conference, unveiling new signing Sam Northeast from Kent, that 35-year-old Bailey would be staying in Australia as his wife Katie is expecting the couple’s second child in April.
“George is settling down with his wife and rapidly increasing family, so sadly we’ll thank George for his efforts with the club in the past and wish him all the very best,” said Bransgrove. “He’s been a fantastic person to have around here.”
The decision comes with Bailey having a year left on his contract after signing a two-year deal at the end of 2016.
Earlier this month, he picked up men’s domestic player of the year at the annual Australian cricket awards, having scored 1468 runs for Tasmania – whom he captains – across the Sheffield Shield, domestic limited overs cricket and the Big Bash League.
Bailey’s absence leaves a hole in Hampshire’s top order and sees the need for a new red-ball captain.
Bransgrove believes Northeast is something of a like-for-like replacement, saying: “He’s certainly fit into that slot perfectly, maybe a little bit higher in white-ball cricket but that’s between him and the selectors.”
He also confirmed that Hampshire’s business in the close-season is complete, unless “a high profile, very productive overseas player” were to be available to them. This is despite the club being yet to sign an overseas player, either for the whole season or as a Vitality Blast specialist.
Bailey’s departure means Hampshire could turn to James Vince, the club’s former Championship and current limited overs captain, to take on the captaincy once again, although that is perhaps dependent on his involvement with England.
Bransgrove suggested no decision has yet been made but did indicate that Northeast would be unlikely to step up to the plate, despite having led Kent in all forms for the past two seasons.
“In the case of a player coming here for the first season, I think that would be rushing things a bit, and we’ll be talking about it no doubt but that hasn’t been the intention at this stage of this season.”