Woodhall Cricket Club hold talks over ‘PJ’ return

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Officials from Woodhall Spa Cricket Club are locked in talks with their Sri Lankan counterparts amid growing speculation about the availability of Prasanna Jayawardene.

The Test star is due back at Jubilee Park for a second season after helping Woodhall to the verge of the ECB Lincolnshire Premier Division title last term.

However, Jayawardene has been picked for Sri Lanka’s tour of England in May and June and could also be required for his country’s recently arranged Test series against South Africa in August.

Given that hectic international schedule, it’s difficult to see how Jayawardene will be able to fit even a short spell in at Woodhall.

Woodhall skipper Jack Luffman said: “We’ve been talking to ‘PJ’ and to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, but at this moment it is not looking promising

“On the one hand, it is disappointing because ‘PJ’ was a very popular player last year and was really excited about coming back.

“On the other, though, we’re delighted that he’s back in international cricket. It’s tremendous news.”

Luffman was reluctant to discuss what arrangements Woodhall might have to replace Jayawardene but it is thought the club is working on a ‘Plan B’.

Luffman added: “We need to sit down and sort one or two things out. We’ve known about this (Jayawardene’s availability) for some time so hopefully we will have something to announce.”

The absence a player of Jayawardene’s ability would be a blow to Woodhall’s hopes of challenging for the title.

With the start of the season just a couple of weeks away, it would be a timely boost if they could recruit a replacement.

The bulk of last season’s squad are still available, including Australian all-rounder Ben O’Brien who is a key source of wickets and runs.

When Woodhall signed Jaywardene this time last year, it was one billed as of the most audacious moves in English club cricket.

At the age of 33, it was widely thought his international career was over, but the talented wicket-keeper and batsman has battled his way back into the Test arena after producing some outstanding displays.

He is tipped to start the Test series against England although he was not a member of the Sri Lanka squad that lifted the world T20 title on Sunday.