Samaraweera joins Worcestershire
Worcestershire have signed Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera as their overseas player for the entire 2013 season.
The 36-year-old right-hander is set to be available throughout the campaign, having today been dropped from his country’s Test squad following a disappointing year in the longest format.
For more than a decade Samaraweera has been an under-rated member of Sri Lanka’s Test middle order, with Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene often hogging the headlines.
Despite his below-par 2012 in which he averaged 32.5, Samaraweera boasts an overall figure of 48.76 in his 81 Tests with a best score of 231 versus Pakistan at Karachi four years ago.
He has also played in 53 one-day internationals. However, while he featured throughout the recent Test series in Australia, his last ODI was the 2011 World Cup final.
Samaraweera replaces Phil Hughes, who has regained his Australia place after a successful spell with Worcestershire last summer.
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “We have been searching for an overseas batsman once we realised Phil was not going to be available.
“Thilan has an average of over 48 in Test cricket (sic) which tells you a lot about his ability. He is available all season. He will also bring a wealth of experience which, in particular, will benefit our young batsmen.”
Samaraweera, who is due to link up with the county in early April in time for the start of the season, said: “Playing county cricket has always been one of my long-term career ambitions.
“I look forward to repaying Worcestershire’s faith in me by making significant contributions on the field this season.”
Worcestershire are confident they will not have to switch early season fixtures away from New Road despite the ground having been flooded several times during the past two months.
The county, who are not due to play at New Road until May 8, have so far splashed out around £20,000 on various clean-up operations this winter only for the flood waters to return on four occasions.
Chief executive David Leatherdale admits the outfield and cricket square are currently in a muddy condition, but is optimistic things will improve in time for the start of the 2013 campaign.
Matches had to be moved away from New Road during the 2007, 2008 and 2012 seasons due to flooding.
Former Worcestershire all-rounder Leatherdale said: “We have had three to four main floods which have covered the ground for about four of the last eight to nine weeks.
“It means the groundstaff have not been able to do a great deal. The outfield and square are currently a bit muddy and there is a lot of silt.
“The ground has been cleaned up three or four times, at a cost of about £20,000, and every time we have done this, the floods have come back.
“Pre-season training is due to start on March 11 and we have made contingency plans in terms of practising elsewhere.
“But we are confident it will not affect the early season fixtures. We are not panicking. We have had flooding in early April before and still played. You get used to it.”