Worcestershire are halfway to completing their double call for Australian assistance next season by pulling off the signing of Phil Jaques.
The prolific New South Wales left-hander has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with Worcestershire for 2006 and 2007 - and he is expected to be joined at New Road next season by his state team-mate Nathan Bracken.
Worcestershire coach Steve Rhodes has confirmed that the county are close to signing Bracken, while at the same time admitting that the arrival of former Northamptonshire and Yorkshire star Jaques to open the batting next summer means the end of their interest in Justin Langer.
Among other offers, Ashes star Langer is now considering an approach from Derbyshire to be their captain next season. But, while Worcestershire were still genuine contenders, they were not prepared to join any queue when they knew they could pull off the signing of the equally prolific Jaques.
"We did make an effort to get Langer," said Rhodes, "but he just couldn't commit himself at this stage.
"He knew we wanted to get things sorted out as soon as possible to avoid the bun fight at the end of the season.
"But Phil more than fits the bill. He's another run machine like Langer and he'll be very good in the dressing room."
Rhodes also said that his team are close to agreeing a deal for 28-year-old Bracken, who had a first brief taste of English county cricket with Gloucestershire in 2004 as a short-term late summer replacement.
"We've heard nothing concrete," said Rhodes. "But I understand he's been quoted in the Australian media as saying he's coming to Worcester next season and if that's the case, then it's great news."
The 26-year-old Jaques, who has English parents and holds a British passport, is convinced he has made his right move.
"There was quite a bit of interest in me from several counties," said Jaques.
"But once I spoke to Worcestershire I had absolutely no doubts where I wanted to play my cricket for the next two years.
"Worcester have the makings of an excellent side and we must set our sights very high, not just next season, but the season after that as well.
"The challenge of helping the side reach its full potential and gain promotion to the top division is something that really excites me and was a major factor in my decision to sign."
Unlike Bracken, part of the Australian team currently playing the World XI in Melbourne, Jaques has yet to play international cricket.
But he is a regular member of the Australia A side, and has hit 4,000 runs in just three seasons in County Championship cricket.