Ireland opening batter Paul Stirling is set to return to Edgbaston after agreeing a short-term Vitality Blast contract with the Birmingham Bears.
Stirling became an instant crowd favourite last summer when he bludgeoned a jaw-dropping 119 (nine fours, 10 sixes) on his Edgbaston debut.
His 46-ball ton against the Northants Steelbacks was the fastest recorded in professional cricket, including internationals, in England last year and won him the Walter Lawrence Trophy.
Now the 32-year-old is set to return to Birmingham for the opening few rounds of the T20 competition as overseas cover while Glenn Maxwell completes his IPL involvement.
First Team Coach Mark Robinson, said: “We’re very lucky to be able to call on somebody of Paul’s calibre as cover.
“It’s a short term deal to cover what could be as little as one or up to three or four matches after the Blast Off. A lot will depend on when the final of the IPL is scheduled and how far Glenn’s team progresses.
“Paul made a big impact last season and the one over in which he hit five sixes and one four in an over will live long in the memory of Bears’ fans.
“But he was also great to have in the Club and around the dressing room. He’s a great lad with huge domestic and international experience. I’m looking forward to welcoming him back into the Bears fold.”
Stirling added: “I’m really looking forward to returning to the Bears and playing in front of great crowds at Edgbaston once again.”
“Scoring a century on my Bears debut last season was a fantastic feeling and I’m hoping to replicate that by hitting the ground running in the early part of the campaign.
“I’ve seen first-hand how talented this group is and with the arrivals of international stars Mo, Hassan Ali and Glenn Maxwell, I’m sure we can go one better and reach Finals Day this year.”
Stirling registered the Bears’ second highest Vitality Blast strike rate (174.86) last summer second only to Dan Mousley (179.49).
Early Bird tickets for Vitality Blast on sale now
Early Bird tickets for this summer’s Vitality Blast are now on general sale, with prices starting from only £13.
Get tickets for £13 for the Bank Holiday game against Lancashire Lightning and from £17 for all other T20 games. But don’t wait too long, only 1,500 tickets are available for each match at this price.