Azharullah: Seekkuge set to entertain Northants fans

Seekkuge Prasanna starred for Northants at Leicestershire (picture: Peter Short)
Seekkuge Prasanna starred for Northants at Leicestershire (picture: Peter Short)
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He might be struggling to understand David Ripley’s Yorkshire accent, but Seekkuge Prasanna certainly doesn’t seem to need any help when it comes to the language of cricket.

The Sri Lanka all-rounder gave a couple of immediate demonstrations of his class in two fixtures against Leicestershire sides last week.

On Wednesday, he took one for 23 with the ball before bludgeoning 71 off just 37 balls in a game against Leicestershire IIs.

That innings included one over worth 31 as Prasanna smashed Rob Sayer for five sixes in a row before taking a single from the final ball.

The signs of his ability were there and he proceeded to take that kind of form into the NatWest T20 Blast opener against the same county two days later.

Prasanna bowled superbly, taking one for 21 from his four overs before heading to the crease with two balls of Northants’ reply remaining.

The Steelbacks needed two runs to win and Prasanna refused to display any nerves as he stepped up and hit his first ball in Northants colours for six to secure a five-wicket win.

It was a magic moment and one that made him an instant hit at Northants, where he is already a popular figure among his team-mates, despite the language barrier.

“He’s already famous in the squad,” said Muhammad Azharullah.

“He’s a brilliant talent, he bowls really well and he’s a very confident man.

“I think he’s going to give us good entertainment this year.”

As Northants’ go-to death bowler, Azharullah is a man used to sweeping aside the nerves.

And, it seems, that Prasanna has the same self-belief.

Azharuulah explained: “When we were coming down for the game I asked him: “Are you nervous?”

“He said: “I’m never nervous, just get me in there and I’ll entertain you.”

“He hit his first ball for a six and everyone’s happy that we signed a really good player.”

After the game, head coach Ripley was trying to get a message through to Prasanna about the County Championship Division Two game at Gloucestershire, which started on Sunday.

And the coach admitted: “A Yorkshireman and a Sri Lankan with poor English having a conversation isn’t working out too well so far, but there’s a lot of smiles, a lot of thumbs up and he’s certainly making himself very handy in the dressing room with the players.”

And when asked about the communication troubles between Prasanna and the others in the changing room, Azharullah smiled and said: “That’s a big fun.

“We try to communicate as much as possible.

“By the end of this tournament, he will be speaking fluently. He’s trying his best.”

Now Prasanna will look to be word perfect when Derbyshire Falcons come to town for the first home T20 fixture of 2016 tonight.

And Azharullah, whose heroics helped to win a couple of close matches at the County Ground last season, said: “I’m looking forward to it because we get a good crowd in there.

“We get families there and a really big buzz.

“Hopefully we can provide good entertainment for all of these Northamptonshire people. They love their cricket and we love entertaining them.

“Hopefully we can provide some good entertainment.”

Northants, champions in 2013, went all the way to the final of the T20 competition last season, eventually losing to Lancashire Lightning in the Edgbaston showpiece.

And there is now a huge determination to use that heartache to propel the club to glory this time round.

“Last year, we had a slow start,” Azharullah said.

“We had a very good T20 side, but we felt we didn’t do ourselves justice in the final.

“We’re working hard and hopefully we can get this trophy back.”