County news May 6, 2005

Bandara replaces Chandana at Gloucestershire

Cricinfo staff

Malinga Bandara will get a taste of county cricket later this year © Cricinfo

Malinga Bandara, a 25-year-old Sri Lankan legspinner, has been signed up as a like-for-like replacement for Upul Chandana by Gloucestershire. Chandana is expected to leave the county in early July to prepare for a Test series against West Indies that is then followed with a tri-series also involving India.

Bandara's contract - a record fifth by a Sri Lankan in 2005 - marks a dramatic revival in his career during England A's recent tour of Sri Lanka. Having made his Test debut as an 18-year-old in 1997-98 he dropped out of the reckoning for several years before reclaiming a spot in the A team in 2004 after two seasons of league cricket in Surrey.

A match haul of 11 for 126 then followed against England A in March, which confirmed his growing confidence and also helped attract the attention of Gloucestershire as they looked for a replacement for Chandana. Bandara, like Chandana, is also a useful lower-order batsman.

Bandara will probably play for Sri Lanka A against West Indies A in June, and will then travel to England. However, if Chandana is not called up for the West Indies Test series then he will stay with the county and Bandara will wait until his eventual departure in August.