SOUTH African bowler Vernon Philander is poised to join Somerset as a Kolpak player, the club has confirmed.

Philander, 34, recently announced his decision to retire from international cricket - following the ongoing series with England - and Somerset have acted quickly to add him to their seam bowling options for next season.

The Kolpak ruling, from 2003, allows players from different countries - primarily African or Caribbean - to play cricket in any EU nation without being considered an overseas player.

A club statement said: “Somerset County Cricket Club are today able to officially confirm that we have agreed personal terms with Vernon Philander for him to become a Somerset player in 2020.

“The club will now be working through all of the necessary processes with the ECB in order to be able to register him as a Kolpak player once the current South Africa versus England Test series has been completed.

“It has been widely reported over the last few days that the South African would be joining the county, but the official paperwork required to complete the deal is being finalised with the ECB, with the club working towards the full procedure being completed successfully in the New Year.”

Philander, who would be available to play in all formats of the game for Somerset, previously represented the club in 2012 - claiming 23 wickets in five matches.

Since making his South Africa debut in 2007, the 34-year-old has taken more than 260 wickets and scored more than 1,700 runs in more than 90 matches across all formats.

In Test cricket he has 220 wickets, at an average of 21.92.

Philander adds depth and experience to a seam bowling attack of Jack Brooks, Josh Davey, Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton and Jamie Overton - plus a raft of promising youngsters.

With several of those players in line to play international and/or franchise cricket over the next 12 months, Somerset will hope that Philander's signing will cover for those absentees - rather than blocking the development of young local talent.

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “Vernon is undoubtedly a genuinely world class performer and we are delighted to have agreed terms with such a talented player.

“When the possibility of signing him presented itself, and considering the challenges that we feel lie ahead of us with regards to achieving our aspirations, we felt that it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“To put it simply, he is one of the very best bowlers in the game and he would add quality to any team in the world.

“His experience and knowledge of the game will also be of huge benefit to our bowling group, especially the young players looking to break in to the First XI.

“When we consider the development that a number of our senior bowlers have made in recent years, and the number of those bowlers who are now playing international cricket or on the cusp of playing international cricket, it is vital for us as a club to ensure that we have the quality and depth in our squad to fulfill our aims of winning silverware in all three formats.

“The addition of Vernon to our bowling unit will enable us to continue to manage the workloads of all of our quality seamers through the demands of a full and demanding season even more effectively.”

Vernon Philander said: “I’m really pleased to have agreed personal terms with Somerset.

“It’s a great club and I really enjoyed my time there a few years ago.

“I know that they won the 50-over cup last year and came close in the Championship and hopefully I’ll be able to help them to another successful year in 2020.”