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Sri Lanka ace Samaraweera signs as Worcestershire's overseas player
STAR Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera will be Worcestershire’s overseas player for the forthcoming season.
The 36-year-old right-hander, a veteran of 81 Tests, no longer plays one-day internationals for his country, so will be available for the entire campaign.
The New Road club had hoped to bring Australian batsman Phil Hughes back for a second season following a prolific 2012.
However, the 24-year-old left-hander’s form for Worcestershire saw him earn a Baggy Greens recall and he would therefore be unavailable for the vast majority of the coming season.
The signing of Samaraweera, who averages 48.76 in Tests, is a smart move by the club and he will add much-needed experience to a batting line-up that has lost the long-serving Vikram Solanki to Surrey.
Samaraweera said: “Playing county cricket has been one of my long-term career ambitions.
“I am extremely grateful to Steve Rhodes and Worcestershire for giving me the opportunity to fulfil this ambition.
“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 shirt for the first time.”
New Road director of cricket Rhodes added: “We have been searching for an overseas batsman once we realised that Phil was not going to be available.
“Thilan’s record of a batting average of over 48 in Test cricket speaks volumes for his ability.
“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.”
Samaraweera will be a useful addition to the county line-up in the shortened format of the game, as he has represented Sri Lanka in 53 ODIs.
His unbeaten 105 against India in 2010 is his highest ODI score, while a t20 average of just under 30 should add plenty of firepower to the Worcestershire armoury.
Samaraweera, who made his Test debut in 2001, came within centimetres of paralysis after being shot during the infamous Lahore terrorist attack in Pakistan that rocked world cricket.
The veteran batsman narrowly survived the shooting in March 2009, when 12 masked Pakistani terrorists targeted Sri Lanka’s team bus with grenades, rocket launchers and AK-47s.
Samaraweera was the worst casualty, with one bullet entering his upper thigh and stopping at his knee after ripping through 12 inches in his left leg.
Incredibly, the bullet missed his bone and nerves by inches, sparing him the prospect of life in a wheelchair.