HAMPSHIRE have signed South Africa batsman Aiden Markram for the first month of the season at least.

The 24 year-old will be available for the first two Specsavers County Championship matches, including next Friday's opener against Essex, and for the group stage of the Royal London One-Day Cup.

His subsequent availability will be determined by his World Cup involvement.

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne could yet play for Hampshire later in the season, having had to pull out ofdue to his international commitments.

Markram became the second-youngest player to captain South Africa in a one-day international when standing in for the injured Faf du Plessis last year.

He has played 17 Tests and 18 ODIs since his international debut 18 months ago.

Markram became the first player in South Africa’s history to score two hundreds in his first three Tests and has scored two more in his aggregate of 1,358 runs at 43.80.

In June 2017 he made an unbeaten 102 from 150 balls (15 fours) at The Ageas Bowl, as South Africa A’s captain against a Hampshire attack led by his compatriot Brad Wheal.

Hampshire director of Cricket, Giles White said: “Aiden’s a player we’ve kept a close eye on for the last couple of years and he’s had a great start to his international career in that time. He’s one of the best young top-order talents in the world."

Markram said: “I’m very excited to be joining Hampshire for the start of their season. Hampshire have a great squad and I’m looking forward to working with the coaching staff and contributing to the goals of the team.

"The Ageas Bowl and its facilities are brilliant. I’ve always wanted to go back after touring there with South Africa A so I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

This will not be Markram's first expereince of the Championship.

Last year he had the difficult task of opening for Durham at the start of the season, scoring 124 runs at 24.8 in three matches - including a knock of 94 against Leicestershire at the Riverside.