Mallards sign Sri Lankan star

Vauxhall Mallards have signalled their intentions for the 2008 season with the signing of Sri Lankan Test batsman Indika de Saram.De Saram, who was Clacton's overseas player last season, was top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League averages in 2007, racking up 815 runs - including two centuries and four 50s - at an incredible average of 90.

Vauxhall Mallards have signalled their intentions for the 2008 season with the signing of Sri Lankan Test batsman Indika de Saram.

De Saram, who was Clacton's overseas player last season, was top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League averages in 2007, racking up 815 runs - including two centuries and four 50s - at an incredible average of 90.56.

Mallards chairman Roger Finney said: "He is a player with a proven track record in club cricket and at international level, so he has got the pedigree and what we liked about him is that he has played in this league and he knows what it is all about."

Mallards recovered from a poor start last season to finish third and Finney was hopeful that de Saram's arrival would help the Brundall side claim back the title they last won in 2004. "The ante has been upped a bit in the last couple of years," said Finney. "It's not like us to sit back and do nothing and hopefully this will strengthen us. Most of the leading sides try to bring in quality overseas players and there are no guarantees when you do that, but it does make it easier when you have someone who knows the league. Our intentions are the same as every year - to be competing at the sharp end.

"Clacton were keen to keep him, but he fits the bill as the kind of player we were looking for - a top order batsman who can bowl a bit of spin."

De Saram has played four Tests and 15 one-day internationals for Sri Lanka. He was once involved in a clash with Darren Gough while playing for a Colts XI on England's 2001 tour to Sri Lanka, after colliding with the Yorkshireman in his follow-through.

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The club are also hoping to bring back South African paceman Sailor Mlongo to play in their second team, in the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division. Finney said that a deal was "99pc done" and that Mlongo, who starred in Mallards' Biss Trophy win over Swardeston this year, would also provide a pace bowling option for the first team.

Paul Bradshaw has been retained as captain for 2008 and Finney is confident that the seamer will react positively to being replaced by Carl Rogers as Norfolk skipper last month. "He is very much looking forward to the challenge and if anything the circumstances have really fired him up," he said.