HAMPSHIRE director of cricket Giles White has not ruled out signing Steven Smith for a stint with the county this season.

The former Australian captain is reported to have spoken to several counties about playing in England before the Ashes series begins. 

He will play his first cricket since last year’s ball-tampering scandal for the Rajasthan Royals next week, when he ends his 12-month ban.

And White admits he could be an option for a brief stint in July, before the first Ashes Test on August 1.

“We would always be interested in a player of that quality if he’s available and if we have a spot to fill,” he said. “But the stars have to align and we’re progressing well with a T20 overseas player.”

Hampshire’s current priority is finding a top-order batsman to replace Dimuth Karunaratne, who is certain to miss the first two Championship matches, at home to Essex and Yorkshire, and probably the rest of the season too.

White said: “Dimuth is unlikely to come, things have changed with Sri Lanka cricket and there’s a high chance he’ll be their captain at the World Cup.

“Sri Lanka have a regional tournament that he’s playing in until April 11, which I think they’ll pick their World Cup squad from.

“But he’ll definitely miss the start of the season so we’re looking to find a top-order player of the right quality for those first two games. We need to identify who we want but we’re running out of time.”

Hampshire begin a two-day friendly against Middlesex at The Ageas Bowl tomorrow.

New signings Keith Barker and James Fuller are both expected to play as Hampshire prepare for their first season under head coach Adrian Birrell and his assistants Alfonso Thomas and Jimmy Adams. “The players have responded well to Adi and there’s a good dynamic between the coaches,” added White.