Cheteshwar Pujara, the Indian top-order batsman, will play six County Championship fixtures for Gloucestershire this season after signing a short-term deal with the club.
Gloucestershire, who will be playing in Division One for the first time since 2005 after winning promotion last season, will be Pujara’s fourth county, following spells at Derbyshire (2014), Yorkshire (2015 and 2018) and Nottinghamshire (2017).
Pujara is one of only two Test specialists in the contracted list of 27 Indian players not to feature in the IPL, making him available for the start of the English season.
His first game will be the season opener against Yorkshire at Headingley on April 12, and he will leave immediately before the T20 Blast starts at the end of May. Qais Ahmad, the Afghanistan legspinner, will play the final six Championship games as well as the whole of the Blast, while the club does not currently have an overseas player for the mid-season games against Somerset and Hampshire.
Pujara will be the club’s first Indian player since Javagal Srinath in 1995, who took 87 Championship wickets at 19.09 apiece after being recommended to the county by Courtney Walsh.
“I am really excited to get the opportunity to represent Gloucestershire this season,” Pujara said. “The club has a rich cricketing history, and this is a great opportunity to be a part of it and contribute to its success.
“I am grateful to the club for giving me this opportunity and cannot wait to get to Bristol to meet my teammates and score some runs. I have really enjoyed the experience of coming over to the UK and playing county cricket over the last few years and I am looking forward to building on that whilst continuing to improve my game.”
Pujara’s record in County Championship cricket is surprisingly underwhelming. He averages 29.93 across 36 innings in the competition, including a six-game spell with Yorkshire in 2018 in which he failed to make a single half-century.
Richard Dawson, Gloucestershire head coach, said: “Cheteshwar is a player with great temperament who will add international experience to the squad. He is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in world cricket and we are very fortunate to have him in our squad for the start of the County Championship campaign.
“Adding Pujara to a strong batting line-up gives me great confidence ahead of our opening County Championship matches.”