County news February 7, 2009

Lancashire sign Ashwell Prince

Cricinfo staff

Ashwell Prince will turn out for Lancashire this season © Getty Images

Ashwell Prince, the South African batsman, has been signed by Lancashire as the club's overseas player for the start of the 2009 season. He is expected to play for the county until the arrival of VVS Laxman after the conclusion of this year's IPL.

"I'm really pleased to be coming on board with Lancashire," Prince said. "My initial conversations with Mike Watkinson (Lancashire's Director of Cricket) have been very positive and I see myself playing an important role for them in the middle order. I enjoyed my stint in the UK last year and am excited to be joining such a proud and successful club."

Watkinson said the decision to sign Prince was in part motivated by the need to start the season well amid a hectic schedule. "As we experienced last season, the first two months is non-stop cricket with plenty of Championship and one-day fixtures in a short space of time," he said. "It's important we get the best possible start, and to have the services of a world-class batsman like Ashwell over this period will help us set the foundation to what we hope will be a highly successful season."

Prince represented Nottinghamshire last season after South Africa's 2-1 Test series win against England, in which averaged 75, but missed the recent Test series in Australia due to a broken thumb. The Lancashire announcement came a day after the IPL auction, where Prince failed to attract any bidders.

The auction, however, spoiled Gloucestershire's plans of signing Kyle Mills, who was bought by Mumbai Indians for $150,000. Mills and Gloucestershire had reached an agreement about his representing the club for the initial part of the county season and news of his unavailability upset the county.

"While the IPL contract is clearly great news for Kyle, it is a blow for us," Tom Richardson, Gloucestershire's chief executive said. "He is the type of player we are looking for and he was keen to come over and join us. Hopefully, that could still happen at a future date.

"In the meantime the completion of the IPL auction makes the situation clearer as to which players will be available for the start of our season and it is still our intention to recruit an overseas bowler."