Somerset seal Mendis and Pollard deals
Somerset have signed Ajantha Mendis for the opening weeks of the county season and revealed Kieron Pollard will again represent them in the Friends Provident t20.
Sri Lanka’s Mendis will fill in while fellow spinner Murali Kartik is at the Indian Premier League but West Indies all-rounder Pollard could play alongside Kartik with two overseas players allowed in the FPt20.
Mendis, the 25-year-old ‘mystery spinner’ who bowls off and leg-breaks plus googlies, will temper the loss of Kartik, whose IPL commitments with Pune Warriors could last until the final on May 28.
Mendis, who is set to be available when Somerset take on Warwickshire in their first LV= County Championship match of the season starting on April 14, has taken 61 wickets in 15 Tests and 82 in 46 one-day internationals.
Somerset director of cricket Brian Rose said: "We have said that we would only bring in a top-class performer as a replacement for Kartik, if we could get one, and feel that Mendis fits into that category so we are absolutely delighted about it."
Mendis, who signed for Hampshire for last season but could not fulfil that commitment, said: "I am delighted to be signing for Somerset. Unfortunately I was unable to play county cricket in 2010 due to international commitments, so when the opportunity to play for Somerset arose this season I jumped at the chance."
"The county were one of the strongest last season and with a couple of exciting signings over the winter I hope I can play my part in helping them secure some silverware in 2011."
Pollard is one of the most destructive Twenty20 batsmen and a useful bowler. He helped Somerset to last year’s FPt20 final, which he missed through injury and they lost despite tying dramatically with Hampshire Royals.
The 23-year-old scored 354 competition runs, including 29 sixes, and took 29 wickets.
He is likely to be involved in West Indies’ one-day series in India, which lasts until June 16, and would therefore only be available for the second half of this season’s FPt20 group stage.
Although Pollard is yet to play a Test, he could be required for the Windies’ three-match rubber that could last until July 10 - ruling him out of all Somerset’s group games.
Rose added: "Kieron has developed into a world-class T20 player and was a great loss to us in the final when he got injured, and he was bitterly disappointed that we lost in the way that we did. He is very happy to be coming back to Somerset and we are only too pleased to have him back.
"Kieron went down big time with our supporters and also with our playing staff with the type of cricket that he plays."
Pollard said: "I believe Somerset can win the FPt20 this year and I will be doing my best to make that happen. Getting so close last year and having to leave the park as I did was a real blow to me. I want to help Somerset go all the way in 2011.
"Everyone at the club welcomed me last year and I am really looking forward to bringing my family back to Taunton. The team is close-knit and passionate and committed to each other and together we will play some exciting cricket."