Saturday, April 4th, 2015

County Move Swiftly To Sign Sri Lanka Spinner Sachithra Senanayake

County Move Swiftly To Sign Sri Lanka Spinner Sachithra Senanayake

Worcestershire have moved swiftly to find an early season overseas player replacement for Saeed Ajmal by signing Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake.

The 30-year-old has played in 45 ODIs, 17 T20 internationals and one Test for his country.

But he also has a proilific record in first class cricket with 376 wickets in 71 games – an average of 5.29 wickets per match- plus 198 List A wickets at an economy rate of 4.01.

Ajmal may not now be available until the second half of the season after being included in Pakistan's squad for the April-May tour of Bangladesh in all three formats – Test, ODIs and T20.

Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes said: "With Saeed Ajmal's situation, it is always difficult with so much international cricket being played around the world and suddenly tours do come around.

"The one of Bangladesh is a late agreement to tour so it meant we've had to find someone at the last minute.

"But we are very happy with Senanayake, a proven international player. He has played a lot of games in the shorter formats for Sri Lanka, not a lot of the Test matches, but his first class record is excellent.

"He has got a really good ratio of five wicket hauls and, when you are looking at replacing a strike bowler like Saeed, you need someone who can take wickets and he is proven at that.

"What we did enjoy last year was a really good balance of our attack with having a spin bowler who could bowl plenty of overs in Saeed.

"His great strength was how he could keep it tight but also attack and we are very optimistic a player like Senanayake can do something similar.

"That way then we can rotate the other seam bowlers at the other end and they know that formula works so there is quite a confidence in the bowling group that type of formua will work.

"Last year one of the things that worked particularly well was trying to knock over some of the top order and get the middle order and tail exposed to a top international spinner."

Senanayake's only Test appearance to date was against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in December 2013.

Rhodes said: "He has got a lot to prove regarding his four-day cricket because he wants desperately to get into that Test side and he has never played in England before so there are a lot of positives about picking up a player at the right time.

"I try to sign hungry players because if they've got a desire to succeed and improve themselves then they are the right person for Worcestershire.

"We're giving him a platform of first class cricket to impress."