SHANE Warne is returning to Hampshire next season - as captain.

The legendary Aussie spin king, who took 70 wickets for the county in 2000, will rejoin the club he calls his second home on a two-year contract.

He will team up with his new team-mates for the start of their Frizzell County Championship second division campaign after completing a tour of the West Indies next Spring.

Robin Smith, who has captained the county for the last five seasons, stepped down last week but has been retained as a playing member to co-incide with his testimonial season.

Speaking from Sri Lanka, where he is currently playing, Warne said: "I am very happy to be returning to Hampshire because it is my second home.

"I enjoyed it so much last time and will do everything I can to establish Hampshire at the forefront of English cricket."

Warne's only other experience of being a captain came in his home state of Victoria, but Hants chairman Rod Bransgrove is confident his influence can help Hants bounce straight back into the first division after relegation this season.

He said: "Shane enjoyed his season with us and expressed a desire to return when his commitments with Australia allowed. I know he is keen as I am to see back in the first division at the first attempt and will give everything as he always does."

Elsewhere, Bransgrove also announced to a packed press conference at West End on Wednesday afternoon that former opener batsman Paul Terry is returning to take over as coach from Jimmy Cook.

Terry, 43, now based in Western Australia, scored more than 16,000 runs for Hampshire and was capped by England twice.

Jason Laney, James Schofield and Irfan Shah have all been released by the club, while Giles White has retired from the game, aged just 30.

The search for a second overseas player for next season continues with current Zimbabwean star Neil Johnson locked in talks regarding an extension to his contract.