Bucks reset for another tilt

Gayantha Wijethilake, pictured here bowling for North Dandenong last season, has joined Buckley Ridges. 176713 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Nick Creely

There will be very few sides in the Dandenong District Cricket Association that boast the depth that Buckley Ridges have in the 2018/19 season.

The Bucks are well known for recruiting some high-profile international and local stars such as Luke Fletcher, Steven Mullaney, David Hussey (Twenty20) as well as Greg Todd and Susa Pradeep, and they’ve once again brought some elite talent to the club.

In what looms as an exciting and tough eight-team Turf 1 grade, the Bucks have brought in two marquee signings in David White and Chanaka Silva, as well as nine other players to bolster its ranks.

White, 27, is an opening batsman and pace bowler who represented both South Africa A and the South African Under 19s side, as well as being part of the South Africa Academy.

He has scored seven first class centuries for Eastern Province – the highest being 160 against Western Province in 2015/16, and the latest in February 2018 when he collected 157 against Gauteng in Port Elizabeth.

In the two Under 19 World Cup matches that he played he scored 77 against India and 72 against New Zealand. In 2015, he scored 137 on tour with South Africa A against Sri Lanka A at Dambulla.

David, who did some tough soul-searching, recently decided to end his professional career to focus on his studies, as well as travel to Australia to play some cricket.

The other big name to be welcomed to the Buckley fold is Chanka Silva, a 28-year-old leg-spinner who has played first-class cricket in Sri Lanka, but more recently has dominated for Moonee Valley in the Victorian Turf Cricket Assocation (VTCA).

Last season, Chanaka played 13 matches for MVCC and notched an eye-catching double – scoring 492 runs at an average of 37.85 (highest score of 142 versus Sydenham/Hillside) while snaring 41 wickets at a remarkable average of 12.27. He bowled 194 overs, wheeling down 47 maidens while conceding 503 runs.

Others to commit to the club for the 2018/19 season are 25-year-old South African all-rounder Rhett Bridgens, Gayantha Wijethilake from North Dandenong, Yahas Alwis who played two first-class games for Nondescripts CC in Colombo in 2016/17, as well as Rob Peat, a gifted all-rounder who captains Marehay CC in England and played a key role for DDCA club St Mary’s gaining promotion from Turf 2 to Turf 1 with 43 wickets and 369 runs in 2016/17.

There will also be at least two other Englishman to join the club, with Scott Snaylam and a promising youngster, Kieran Vis, both from the Northern CC near Liverpool. Also joining from the neighbouring West Gippsland competition is Tooradin trio Shane Somers, Dan Hunt and his brother Brendan.

Buckley Ridges president, Sonny De Silva, announced the new additions at the annual general meeting at the clubrooms in Pultney Street on Friday 15 June, stressing that the club remained committed to ensuring young talent from within Buckley’s existing pool got a fair crack at playing top flight turf in the new, tougher DDCA turf structure, with the new players adding to depth that was missing last season.