Worcestershire have been given a pre-season boost by the confirmation that Chaminda Vaas is available as scheduled for the first half of the summer.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler, due to fill the void left by Shoaib Akhtar's unavailability for the first three months of the season, was in doubt after he was chosen to play in a one-day series against India.

But that series has now been postponed because of internal problems in Sri Lankan cricket. So Vaas is available after all and will play in Worcestershire's second game of the season in the County Championship against Durham at the Riverside on April 20.

Worcestershire's only remaining worry is over South African all-rounder Zander de Bruyn, who is in line to play for his country in the Pro 20 Series later this month.

Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton, said that, despite his arrival next week, de Bruyn would probably miss the first couple of games.

"We hope to have him available for the Lancashire game on April 30," said Newton. "After that we hope to have him for the remainder of the summer, depending obviously on any any international cricket board not organising tours at short notice.

"It's the same for any county right now. The overseas issue has become a big one because of problems over player availability, and we simply have to take it week by week.

"We should have de Bruyn for most of the summer, Chaminda Vaas until June 20, with Shoaib due to arrive on June 20 and we're highly delighted with that.

"We freely admit that there are risks involved with the signing of Shoaib.

"But the upside is that we should have the fastest bowler in the world available to us on dry wickets in August, which is a fairly sumptuous feast to behold.

"He is due to play eight Championship matches and eight one-day games and, if he wins us three or four, it will have been worth every penny, bearing in mind his contract is appearancerelated."

"If it does not work due to Pakistan's demands, then Plan B will come into place.

"But we know how keen he is to come over here and prove to himself and to other people that he can go full tilt for part of a season in English cricket."

Worcestershire's bowling attack will have an even thinner look to it when the season starts against Derbyshire next Wednesday. Nadeem Malik is not due back for another month following surgery to correct his shin splints.

After last week's wash-out at Derby, the Pears' warm-up programme continues at Chelmsford today with a twoday friendly against Essex.