Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka spinner Sachithra Senanayake has agreed to sign with Worcestershire as a replacement for Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Ajmal was set to represent Worcestershire before he was called up to tour Bangladesh with the national team.
“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,” Worcestershire’s director of cricket Steve Rhodes said. “The one of Bangladesh is a late agreement to tour so it meant we’ve had to find a replacement.
“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.”
Senanayake has played 71 first-class matches and taken 376 wickets, which includes 32 five-wicket hauls, at a magnificent average of 19.69.
Since Senanayake possesses such an outstanding record when it comes to first-class cricket, Rhodes is confident that he will be able to mirror what Ajmal did for the club last season. Ajmal was absolutely unstoppable during his stint with Worcestershire as he took 63 wickets in nine matches at a stellar average of 16.47.
“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,” Rhodes said. “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 formula 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.
“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.”