SRI Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara confirmed he will join Durham, but he might be available for only two County Championship matches.
If he does not arrive in time for the second match against Somerset, starting at Chester-le-Street on Sunday, there is a ten-day gap in the fixtures before Durham entertain Yorkshire on May 4.
The following week they go to Hove, when it is hoped Ben Stokes might also be available. But after that Sangakkara will have to join the Sri Lanka squad to prepare for the first one-day international against England on May 22.
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The 36-year-old World Twenty20 final match-winner sought a short-term county contract in order to acclimatise to England's early summer conditions but had to wait for clearance from the national selectors.
He said he had opted out of the Indian Premier League partly to prepare for the England tour as Sri Lanka seek their first Test win in England since 2006. He also wants to improve an Test average of 30.58 from nine Tests in England as his career average is 58.07.
The two Tests are at Lord's and Headingley, the first of which begins on June 12, while the second ODI is on May 25 at Chester-le-Street.
Durham coach Jon Lewis said: “I’m delighted that Kumar has said he is coming, but we haven’t yet heard when he’s likely to arrive.
“To have someone of his calibre even for a short period will be tremendous. I can’t think of a better player in the world who is not involved in the Indian Premier League.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to sat long enough to play in our first Twenty20 match at home to Worcestershire on May 16.”
The Emirates Durham ICG has been ranked second out of the 18 first- class counties for Overall Matchday Experience in a study commissioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
It was described as a beautiful ground and the study added: “It is very welcoming, the signage is good and most of the seats are comfortable with great views”.
Durham are hoping the ranking will help to sell tickets for the visit of Sri Lanka, which will be the only international cricket match in the North East this summer.
Tickets are available via the official website at www.durhamccc.co.uk or by calling 0844 499 4466.