Ryan Harris has left Sussex nine days after making his debut for the club.
The 28-year-old Australian all-rounder had impressed in the champion county's traditional curtain-raiser to the season, against MCC at Lord's last week, taking 4 for 36. He was named in the Sussex team to face Hampshire here but was withdrawn before the toss after reports reached Hove from Australia that he had signed to play for a state side, the Queensland Bulls.
Harris was registered to play for Sussex by virtue of holding a British passport, but there was confusion as to whether Queensland wanted to play him as an Australian rather than as an overseas player, which he would have been had he carried on with Sussex this season.
Yesterday Sussex released a statement in which Gus Mackay, the chief executive, said: "This has been a very difficult decision for Ryan but the only decision he could make after it was announced on Wednesday that he had signed a three-year contract with the Queensland Bulls to play as a local player and not as an overseas player."
Mackay added that Sussex had begun the search for a replacement.
Sussex certainly could have done with the aggressive fast-medium of Harris in this match, which is destined to end in a draw if the weather forecast is anything to go by. At least the champions managed to take a wicket in the 11 overs that were possible in the morning session yesterday, as Hampshire crept 15 runs closer to their opponents' first-innings total. The players did not re-emerge after that and play was eventually abandoned for the day at 5pm.
The wicket to fall was that of the left-hander Michael Lumb, who was trapped lbw by a fuller-length ball from Robin Martin-Jenkins when he was within sight of what would have been a deserved hundred. Lumb seems fated to pass 50 for Hampshire but fall short of three figures. In his debut season last year he passed 50 eight times. When he was at Yorkshire he twice reached three figures on this ground.
"It is frustrating," said Lumb. "I keep getting a start, but the manager, Paul Terry, and I have spoken about it. It will come. It was just good to spend some time out in the middle."