London: After Australia opener Phil Hughes's ability was again called into question following another Test failure against New Zealand, Worcestershire announced they had signed him for the 2012 English county season.
Hughes fell early on the fourth day of the second Test in Hobart on Monday as Australia collapsed to 233 all out, handing the Kiwis a dramatic seven-run win.
The 23-year-old left-hander was again found out outside off-stump and was caught in the slips for 20 off seamer Chris Martin's bowling for the fourth straight innings.
His poor form - Hughes scored 41 in four innings against New Zealand - will intensify pressure on his spot ahead of the Test series with India, which starts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Boxing Day.
But Worcestershire hope Hughes, a prolific scorer with county rivals Middlesex two years ago, can carry on from where he left off when he returns to English domestic cricket.
Although the county season starts in April, Hughes is not due at New Road until the first week of June but Worcestershire then expect him to stay until the campaign finishes in September.
"Phil is a heavy run scorer with a career ratio of a century every four games in first-class cricket," said First Division side Worcestershire's director of cricket Steve Rhodes.
"In 2009 he amassed 574 first class runs in three games for Middlesex including three centuries which demonstrates his hunger for run scoring.
"I look forward to working closely with Phil during the second half of the season," the former England wicket-keeper added.
Hughes, in a Worcestershire statement, said: "I'm absolutely thrilled to be heading back to England in 2012.
"Worcestershire is a quality organisation and I can't wait to meet my new teammates and re-acquaint myself with English conditions.
"My previous stint in England helped my batting enormously and I have high expectations that spending the 2012 Australian winter in the UK will do the same.
"I look forward to helping Worcestershire be a force in all forms of the game in 2012."
But while Hughes is excited by another English county stint, Test captain Michael Clarke hinted at a more unwelcome return to action with his home state of New South Wales if Australia's selectors drop him for the India opener.
"He's obviously really disappointed like all the batters are for the way we played today, but Hughesy is probably most disappointed he's been getting out the same way," Clarke said.
"He needs to find some runs, it's as simple as that. If he's not making them for Australia, he's going to have to go to back to New South Wales and find them there."