BLACKROD will be hoping new professional Pramod Maduwantha has plenty of runs left in the tank after a sensational run of form in Sri Lankan first-class cricket.

The former under-19s' international batsman spent last season with Egerton.

But he has swapped the GMCL for the Bolton League, to the delight of Blackrod captain Joey Pryle, who has been keeping a keen eye on the left-hander’s New Year performances via the Cricinfo website.

Playing for the Saracens team, Maduwantha, who turns 22 late next month, has scored two double centuries and a hundred in his last four first-class appearances since January.

“We’ve been monitoring him all winter, and it’s been amazing how he’s gone,” said Pryle.

“Amal Dalagoda from Egerton brought him down towards the end of last season.

“The opportunity was there to sign him as he wanted another summer in the area, and we snatched his hand off.

“He struggled to get into his first-class team at first, but when he did he got a few scores and got moved up the order. He was phenomenal then.

“The downside was that he was on the verge of being called up to a Sri Lankan development squad, and I was panicking a bit because he would have had to leave us in June or July.

“The idea in signing him is that it lifts our standards. That’s the plan – for all our younger players to have something to aspire to.”

Maduwantha, who also bowls some off-spin, would have missed Saturday’s rained off Peter Stafford Trophy home game against Eagley, but is hoping to be available for this weekend’s double header at Lostock and Westhoughton.

Pryle said: “He’s just waiting on his visa.”

Maduwantha will link up with UK qualified former pro and compatriot Thushendra De Zoysa.

“Tushy’s brilliant, and I don’t know what we’d do without him. Cricket wise, we build everything around him,” said Pryle, who is expecting a fierce battle for Association promotion in 2019.

“Every side is competitive, and who knows how the league will pan out.

“Last season saw a lot of challengers, and it was difficult to predict.

“You have to really wait and see who emerges around the last six games mark.”

Pryle, however, does not hide from the fact that it will take a couple of weeks for Blackrod to get up and running as they battle against player unavailability.

“Once we get through this Stafford Trophy programme and into the league games, we should have our players back and we can give it a good go,” he said.

“If we can get our strongest XI back, we should be challenging.

"But one thing I would say is that while you’ve got a lot of great pros in the league, participation levels are still dropping. And that’s not just a Blackrod problem or a Bolton League problem, it’s going wider.

“It’s seems as if younger people aren’t into cricket for the long-term.

"It might be that we have to adapt and introduce more of different formats such as Twenty20. It’s something to think about.”