DANE Vilas is hoping he can be a ‘Prince among men’ at Lancashire, just like Ashwell was.

No doubt about it, former South Africa international Ashwell Prince was a roaring success at Emirates Old Trafford across six seasons between 2009 and 2015.

He scored 8,508 runs from 166 matches in all competitions, including 18 hundreds and 46 fifties, before retiring to become a national selector and then a head coach at the Cape Cobras, where the link with Vilas comes.

The two forged a healthy player-coach relationship during the most English winter, with Vilas taking advice from Prince before signing a two-year Kolpak contract with the Red Rose county.

“Ashwell said it was a great club,” revealed the 31-year-old, who made a fine start to Lancashire life by hitting 74 and 92 in the opening round draw at Essex.

“He had great times here. He says it’s a club where guys never give up, there’s a lot of fight in the changing room and the guys want to win.

“That’s the sort of team you want to be in.

“I’ve played against him quite a bit, and I’ve worked with him this last season as coach of the Cobras.

“He’s a great guy to have around, and he’s got a huge amount of experience, both internationally and domestically, at home and here on the county scene. He’s fantastic to talk to.

“Equally, now, we have some guys with great experience in our dressing room, guys like Crofty, who has played a long time for Lancs, Jimmy and Chappie, the coach.”

Prince took over as caretaker head coach of the Cobras in late December, with his side finishing third in the Sunfoil Series four-day competition.

“Ashwell’s old-school (as a coach),” said Vilas.

“He likes to challenge players. Even when he was playing, he would challenge you. If you put a foot wrong he’d let you know. He’s exactly the same as a coach.

“He always tries to get the best out of players, and he wants everyone to do well.

“He’s not afraid to ask those tough questions. He’s perfect for a coach’s role.

“As a player, that’s all you want from a coach, to have someone who makes you better.”

Lancashire face Surrey at the Oval on Friday, with the hosts having won their first match of the season by an innings and one run over Warwickshire.

England have ordered James Anderson to be rested, although he will return to county colours for next weekend’s home clash with Somerset.

Captain Steven Croft is also likely to miss out against Surrey having sustained a thumb injury at Chelmsford.