Worcestershire have signed Sri Lankan Test batsman Thilan Samaraweera as their main overseas player for the 2013 season. The club had originally been hoping to re-sign Australian left-hander Phil Hughes, who had a prolific 2012 season at New Road, but his good form has earnt him a recall to Australia’s Test and ODI sides so his availability would have been limited.
Director of Cricket, Steve Rhodes, said, "We have been searching for an overseas batsman once we realised that Phil Hughes was not going to be available. Thilan's record of a batting average of 48 in Test cricket speaks volumes for his ability with the bat. His wealth of experience is a big boost for the squad in general, but particularly our young talented batsmen who will benefit from his wily words of wisdom. To have him all season is great news for the club."
Sri Lanka have no Test matches scheduled for the duration of the English summer, with only the Champions Trophy and a triangular tournament in the West Indies, on their itinerary. Samarweera has not played ODI cricket for Sri Lanka since the 2011 World Cup and is unlikely to be recalled. He was also today dropped from their Test squad for the series against Bangladesh in March.
The stint will be Samarawera’s first in county cricket. He said, “Playing county cricket has been one of my long term career ambitions. I am extremely grateful to Steve Rhodes and Worcestershire CCC for giving me the opportunity to fulfil this ambition and I look forward to repaying this faith by making significant contributions on the field this season. I can't wait to arrive in April and get started with the boys and pull on the Worcestershire shirt for the first time."
The first batch of Australians to travel to Hampshire’s International Cricket Academy have been named. The six players will spend the summer learning at the Academy as well as playing and coaching in local league cricket in the south-east.
The players are all rising stars of Australian cricket, with three of them - batsmen Will Bosisto and Travis Head and spin bowler Ashton Turner - having participated in last August’s Under-19 World Cup. The others are 19 year-old left-arm spinner Ashton Agar who is accompanying the senior squad on their tour of India, Alex Keath, and Scott Henry, who made a double-hundred against the touring Sri Lankans in December.
The players will be allocated to the six participating premier league clubs in a random draw tomorrow evening. The participating clubs are Bournemouth CC, Lymington CC, Totton & Eling CC and Ventnor CC (all from the Southern Electric Premier League), Henley CC (Thames Valley Premier League) and Chichester Priory Park CC (Sussex Cricket League).
Warwickshire have signed fast-bowler Oliver Hannon-Dalby from Yorkshire on a one-year contract. Hannon-Dalby, who had a year remaining on his Yorkshire contract, had been on trial at Edgbaston for the past few weeks, having been told he was unlikely to get regular first-team cricket at Headingley this season.
The 23 year-old fast-bowler will travel with the County Champions on their pre-season tour of Barbados, which begins on 5th March.
Dougie Brown, Director of Cricket at Warwickshire CCC, said: “We first saw Oliver close-up at the start of the 2010 season when he took five wickets against us in an LV= County Championship match at Edgbaston.
“Whilst he’s struggled to consistently hold a place in the Yorkshire First XI, we recognise that his ability to swing the ball from such a great height adds something different to our pace attack. He’s working well with Graeme Welch and we hope he can continue to develop here in the same way that our current fast bowlers have.
“With Woakes, Wright, Rankin and Clarke all featuring in England’s winter touring squads, it’s essential that we’re prepared for more call-ups in the summer, so Oliver is a great addition to the squad.”
Warwickshire have a history of signing players from other counties who had previously struggled, but under the tutelage of their coaching staff - most notably new Director of Cricket Dougie Brown and bowling coach Graeme Welch - have gone onto prosper. Most obvious among these are opener Varun Chopra and fast-bowler Chris Wright, who both signed from Essex, played key roles in the Bears’ LV= County Championship winning campaign, and are currently touring Australia with the England Lions.
Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel will play for South African franchise Warriors in their forthcoming domestic T20 competition. Patel will fly from New Zealand once the limited-overs internationals against New Zealand have finished and will link up with Warriors on 25th February.
The tournament doesn’t finish until 7th April, meaning that Patel, who was barred from entering the IPL auction by Nottinghamshire coach Mick Newell, will miss all of Nottinghamshire’s pre-season fixtures should Warriors make the final. He will, however, be back in time for the LV= County Championship opener against Middlesex on 10th April.
Patel said, “I'm very excited to be joining the Warriors for the RAM SLAM T20 competition. I've heard fantastic things about the team and the area. The Warriors have a history of doing well in this format and I hope I can add something extra and make this year a winning season. I want to thank my county in England for releasing me to play and speaking to the staff at the Warriors I really can't wait to start.”
© Cricket World 2013
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