No Kumar Sangakarra as Durham prepare for Somerset visit

Sri Lankan batsman not yet in the country as Durham host Somerset in first home game of the County Championship season.

Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara

Kumar Sangakkara’s Durham debut will have to wait as they go into tomorrow’s LV County Championship visit of Somerset without their prospective signing.

The Sri Lankan batsman’s potential arrival at the Riverside will now not happen in time for their first home four-day fixture of the season, the defending champions having began the new season with a dramatic draw at Northamptonshire.

“The 13 will be the same as for the Northants game,” said head coach Jon Lewis. “There are a couple of niggles, but I think we should be in a position to go with the same set of guys and hopefully we will have all 13 of those to select from.”

Mark Wood’s comeback from a side strain will see him hitting the road rather than being thrown straight in to the front line, Lewis explaining: “I think we will put Mark into the second-team squad for their game which starts on Monday. He looks good, and he is an exciting player. We don’t want to rush him, and it is just a case of getting him right, really.

“Our second-team are playing against a combined Kent and Essex second-team, so they are quite a strong side and one of the better fixtures for the lads.

“It is an away game so will mean a long day’s travelling, but he will get some good cricket. If he comes through that game then that will be great, and he will be in good shape.”

Trying to dampen down the growing hype around Sangakkara as the saga over his arrival date drags on, the Durham boss added: “The talk has been everywhere and I wish I could put a bit of a lid on it, to be honest.

“I am still optimistic, but it is nothing yet where I can come out and say ‘yes, we’ve got him’.

“If he comes it will be for a short period of time, and he would be an asset to any squad in the world. Hopefully it can come off and we can get some performances, and it would be exciting to get the chance to learn from someone like him.”

Rightly more focused on preparations for tomorrow’s home date with Somerset, Lewis said: “The lads aren’t loving me at the moment because I brought them into practice yesterday and will be doing so again today. Yesterday’s was a good practice, to be fair, but we had a long bus trip back from Northampton and didn’t get home until 1am.

“The good thing is the lads know they have to put the preparation in. It is tough, but that is just the way it is.”

Pleased with aspects of his side’s opening performance at Northamptonshire, if not the eventual outcome, Lewis said: “Yeah, it was a little bit frustrating not to get the win. Bowling a side out in two sessions on a pitch which did not really deteriorate that much would have been a hell of an ask, but we went close to doing it.”

Expecting a decent wicket tomorrow given the weather during the build-up, he added: “Early-season pitches usually mean you get the games done and finished with in three days, then get an extra day off.

“But this time we have had to wait until the very end of the fourth day at Northants then face a long trip back, but the ground up here is beautiful and we have had a good practice on it. I am sure the pitch will be well-prepared, and it is not exactly normal April weather.” Somerset drew their last game against Yorkshire, Lewis stating: “They are a tough side, and in many ways had a similar start to ourselves.

“They had quite a long, drawn-out and high-scoring first game against Yorkshire. Both sides got big scores in the first innings, and their batsmen got some good time at the crease.

“Their bowlers also had a good work-out and I would expect them to be up to speed.

“They have Marcus Trescothick leading things, Alfonso Thomas, the Overton brothers are good cricketers, Craig Keiswetter and our old boy Johann Myburgh is there now, too.”

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