SRI LANKAN spinner Sachithra Senanayake will replace Saeed Ajmal as Worcestershire’s overseas player for the start of the season.
Ajmal has been called up to the Pakistan squad after their tour of Bangladesh was give the green light to take place in April and May.
But the county have swooped to sign 30-year-old Senanayake who has taken 376 wickets in first-class cricket at an average of 19.69.
He has only played one test for his one test match for his country but has 45 ODI appearances and 17 Twenty20 caps under his belt.
Worcestershire are now waiting on visa approval and the receipt of a no objection certificate from Sri Lanka before he can play.
Steve Rhodes, Worcestershire director of cricket, said: “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Senanayake’s only Test appearance to date was against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in December 2013.
Rhodes added: “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.”