SOMERSET County Cricket Club has announced the signing of the ICC's top-ranked International T20 batsman, Babar Azam, for this season's Vitality Blast.

Azam joins West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor as overseas signing for this summer's T20 competition.

The 24-year-old Pakistan batsman made his IT20 debut against England in 2016, going on to play in 29 matches in the format, scoring 1,182 runs at an average of 53.72.

He has a best score of 97 not out, and a strike rate of 127.78, in those matches.

The right-handed batsman has also played in 21 Tests (scoring 1,235 runs at an average of 35.28, and a best of 127no) and 59 One-Day Internationals (2,462 runs, 51.29 average and best of 125no).

He scored 101 from 63 balls for his country against Leicestershire earlier this week, in a T20 tour match.

Subject to Somerset obtaining the appropriate visa/NOC clearance for the player, he will be available for all 14 Vitality Blast group matches, plus the quarter-final if Somerset get there.

His availability for Finals Day would be dependent on his international commitments with Pakistan.

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “To be able to sign a player of the calibre of Babar Azam is tremendously exciting.

"He is a proven performer at the very highest level and that is highlighted by the fact that he is the top-rated international T20 batsman in the world.

“Obviously, everyone wants to sign a world class performer, but we feel that continuity of selection is equally important.

"For us it is about securing the services of someone as talented as Babar Azam for more than just a handful of fixtures.”

Babar Azam commented: “I am looking forward to the new challenge that playing T20 cricket in England will bring.

"I have heard good things about Somerset from [fellow Pakistan batsman] Azhar Ali and I want to play a part in the club winning matches.

"I know that Somerset get good support and I hope that I can give them something to cheer about this year.”