CRICKET captain Travis Head is to be replaced by Cheteshwar Pujara for the majority of the upcoming season.

Sussex County Cricket Club announced that following a request to be released from his contract, the Australian will be replaced as overseas batter for the County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup competition.

The request came amid increased international commitments, along with the news that he and his partner are expecting their first child.

Pujara will arrive in time for the first Championship match of the season and remain until at least the end of the RL50 competition.

On announcing that he had signed for the club, Cheteshwar said: “I am excited and honoured to be a part of the historic Sussex County Cricket Club for the upcoming season.

“I do look forward to joining up with the Sussex family soon and be a part of its rich cricketing history.

“Over the years I have always enjoyed my time in the UK playing county cricket, so eagerly looking forward to the new stint and hope to contribute to the club’s success.”

A Sussex CCC spokesman said the club are delighted to welcome an “experienced international top order batter”, as well as a player who can help the younger members of the squad develop.

“We are sorry Travis will not be joining us and wish him all the best with his international commitments and congratulate him and his partner Jessica on their news,” he said.

Explaining his decision, Travis said: “I would like to stress that it’s important for me to support Jessica over the Australian winter while balancing a busy international schedule.

“It comes with disappointment during a very exciting period for me personally that I won’t be returning this season, I’ve built some great relationships and was very excited for it.

“I’m hopeful I can still have an impact at the club in the future and I will be watching the season very closely. I wish everyone all the best and thank you for the support.”

A new championship captain will be announced in due course, prior to the start of the season.

“Following the re-arrangement of the Pakistan vs West Indies one day series for early June, we expect to have Mohammad Rizwan for the early part of the Championship season and at least eight of the Blast group games,” the Sussex CCC spokesman added.

He will arrive from the current Pakistan vs Australia test series in time for the second round of the Championship staring on April 14.

“To ensure we have the strongest squad available for the remaining Blast matches and Championship matches during this period we have signed Australian batter/keeper Josh Philippe,” he added.

The Sydney Sixers star said: “I am delighted to be joining Sussex for the T20 Blast and the County Championship.

“The opportunity to play in England with a young and talented Sussex squad is something I am really looking forward to.”

The world’s number one T20 bowler Rashid Khan is also returning for another T20 Blast season at Hove.

“Subject to how far his IPL franchise team go in this year’s tournament we expect to have Rashid available for much of the Blast including the knockout out stages at the end of the competition, should we progress from the group stages,” the spokesman said.

Keith Greenfield, performance director, said: “Considering the constantly changing schedules of overseas players and tours, the quality of international players we have secured to represent the club across all formats is very exciting for all involved.”