Canterbury have signed the 33-year-old right-armer for their first six McDonald’s Super Smash matches prior to Christmas.
Hilfenhaus will debut for the Kings at Hagley Oval on Friday when they take on defending Australian Big Bash champions Sydney Thunder in a pre-season clash.
The Thunder are captained by former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who will make a one-off cameo for the Kings in their Super Smash opener against the Central Stags in New Plymouth on Sunday.
Hilfenhaus took 99 test wickets in 27 tests, while also playing 25 ODIs and seven T20 internationals between 2007-12.
The burly Tasmanian retired from first class cricket in February due to injury issues.
He still plays T20s and will feature for the Melbourne Stars again this summer, who are coached by former Black Caps’ captain Stephen Fleming.
Hilfenhaus was the ninth top wicket taker in last season’s Big Bash, capturing 10 at 20.80 from eight matches.
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon said Hilfenhaus’ vast experience would be a strong boost for the Kings.
Canterbury quicks Ed Nuttall and Kyle Jamieson have been impressive in the Plunket Shield, but are raw in the T20 form. Jamieson is yet to play a domestic T20.
“We were looking for an experienced pace bowler that could help our group. We’ve got [captain] Andrew Ellis, but that’s the extent of the experience really when you look at our pace bowling group,” Germon said.
“I know he’s keen to help the squad and the younger bowlers within the squad as well.”
Germon said their connection with Fleming had been vital in snaring Hilfenhaus, who was keen for cricket leading into the Big Bash, which starts in late December.
The Kings have a close relationship with the Thunder franchise, who Canterbury beat by nine runs in a T20 friendly last December,
With the Thunder’s campaign starting six days earlier than the Stars, it had been difficult to snap up a Sydney player for Canterbury’s early matches.
Germon was hopeful they might be able to get a Thunder overseas player or others on the fringes of the squad for matches later in the Super Smash.
“We’re looking at a couple of options. Guys just out of their Big Bash squad are still very good cricketers.
“They need to be better cricketers than what we’ve got.”
Germon is targeting a crowd of between 2000-3000 for the Kings’ match against the Thunder.
The Thunder won’t be at full strength, but their side includes Watson, explosive former Canterbury batsman Aiden Blizzard and ex-Australian seamer Clint McKay.
AT A GLANCE:
Ben Hilfenhaus’ stats for Australia 2007-12:
Tests: 99 wickets at 28.50 in 27 tests.
ODIs: 29 wickets at 37.06 in 25 matches.
T20Is: 9 wickets at 17.88 in 7 matches.
Written by Brendon Egan