IRELAND Test captain Andy Balbirnie is returning to Glamorgan for the start of the coming season as a replacement for Australia batsman Marnus Labuschagne.

The Aussie duo of Labuschagne and Michael Neser are not likely to be heading to Sophia Gardens until May because of domestic action.

That has led to Glamorgan moving to bring in Balbirnie, who played for the club in the T20 last year.

The 30-year-old has has played three Test matches for his country with a top score of 82 against Afghanistan in 2019.

He also scored a half-century at Lord's when Ireland nearly recorded a shock victory against England later that year.

Balbirnie has played 30 first-class matches, scoring 1,296 runs with a top score of 205 not out against The Netherlands in a four-day Intercontinental Cup match in 2017.

"It's a brilliant opportunity to play red-ball cricket and the County Championship is historically one of the best first-class competitions in the world," he said.

"I really enjoyed my time in Wales last season - the players and coaches were incredibly welcoming and it's a great place to play.

"I'm really excited to go back, get stuck in and hopefully contribute to some wins for Glamorgan."

The Dubliner provides some experience ahead of Glamorgan's champions opener against Yorkshire on April 8.

Director of cricket Mark Wallace said: "It's disappointing Marnus will miss the first few games of the season but we're very happy to get someone the calibre of 'Balbo' in on such short notice.

"As he showed last year, he's a fine player and has a good track record across all formats and experience playing at the very highest level.

"He was fantastic for us when he joined last year and will bring plenty of skill and leadership to our side.

"Michael Neser plays with Marnus at Queensland and his arrival has also been delayed so we're currently looking at other options for the early stages of the season."

Glamorgan captain Chris Cooke signed a new two-year contract extension through until 2023.

The 34-year-old will be skipper for the third year on the spin and is pleased to have his future sorted ahead of the campaign.

"We have an incredibly talented squad and I'm genuinely excited to be a part of it," he said.

"I'd also like to repay the faith the club has shown in me by continuing to help build a squad ready to challenge for silverware."

Cooke has been one of the mainstays of the Glamorgan side since he signed in 2011 and has gone on to make 280 appearances for the club across all formats, scoring 8,658 runs, as well as taking 259 catches.

The big-hitter was awarded his county cap in 2016 and in 2018 was appointed as the club's vice-captain before taking over the captaincy a year later.

Director of cricket, Mark Wallace, said: "Chris has had a major impact on the club since he joined us, and we're absolutely delighted he's agreed to extend his contract.

"He's turned himself into a very good wicket-keeper and although he's easily one of the most destructive batsmen on the county circuit, he reads the game incredibly well and plays the match situation.

"He consistently puts in performances across all three formats and in the last couple of years has become the true leader of this team."

Glamorgan will play intra-squad games before taking on the Cardiff Universities side on March 29.

Their final tune-up is at Somerset in a three-day friendly on April 2.