Morecambe Cricket Club have signed Sri Lankan International Ashan Priyanjan as their overseas professional for the 2017 season.
Securing the services of the batsman, who has been capped 23 times by Sri Lanka, is a real coup for the Northern League side.
The 27-year-old, Colombo native, will arrive at Woodhill Lane in April and says he is ‘extremely excited’ ahead of his first spell in English club cricket.
“I am extremely excited about coming over to play my first season in England,” said Priyanjan.
“Especially to play for the prestigious Morecambe Cricket Club.
“For several years I have been interested in taking part in this league, but due to other professional cricketing commitments I have been unable to make the time to fly over to the UK and participate.
“I am very happy to have the chance to make it happen this year.”
The Sri Lankan is the current captain of his hometown Colombo Cricket Club, where he bats at number three and has recently posted his highest ever first-class score of 235.
Morecambe endured a highly disappointing season in 2016, but Priyanjan is hoping his experience can help the club mount a title challenge this time around.
“I intend to give the team the best of my abilities,” he said.
“Hopefully my energy and all of my experience, along with the talent of my teammates can ensure that Morecambe will win the league this year.”
The middle-order batsman is no stranger to English conditions though, he played in three one-day internationals on Sri Lanka’s tour of England back in 2014, before returning last summer to captain the Sri Lanka A side.
He started the 2014 tour of England with a bang, scoring 43 from 30 balls at Chester-Le-Street against an attack that featured James Anderson and Chris Jordan. Low scores at Old Trafford and Lords followed and led to his eventual axing from the side in January 2015.
Priyanjan’s score of 74 in his first innings for his country is the highest ever score by a Sri Lankan making his debut in ODI cricket, and though he says he is proud of his achievements in international cricket so far, he is determined to regain his place in Angelo Mathews’ side soon.
“I am eagerly looking forward for an opportunity to represent the Sri Lankan team as soon as possible,” he said.
“I am determined to score as many runs as I can for Morecambe and hopefully things will progress from there.”
Priyanjan may be the first international cricketer to grace the changing rooms at Woodhill Lane – however he won’t be the first Sri Lankan to do so.
Back in 2015, off-spinner Suraj Randiv joined the ranks at Morecambe and was the catalyst for the side as they won the Northern Premier League title.
Eyebrows may be raised at the international batsman swapping sold out stadiums in Colombo for washed out afternoons in Chorley – but Priyanjan intends to embrace British summertime and also take the opportunity to watch his beloved Manchester City.
“I hope to enjoy the weather and take in some of the UK’s many sights,” he said.
“Though I am a professional cricketer, I am a huge football fan and particularly a Manchester City fan.
“I am really looking forward to going to the Etihad Stadium to enjoy a City match during my time here.”
Priyanjan and his new Morecambe CC teammates will begin the 2017 campaign at home to Barrow CC on April 22nd.