By Gerry Carman
Dandenong District Cricket Association powerhouses, Buckley Ridges have announced the club’s Team of the Decade – and what a powerful unit it is.
The democratic vote by club members proved a nightmare, given the vast pool of talent available for selection between 2009/10 and 2019/20 – a period in which the club won three Turf 1 premierships, came close on a couple more occasions and qualified to play off in last season’s grand final when Covid-19 struck.
The players eligible for selection included almost a dozen former first class players, as well as former Victorian premier cricket players and proven DDCA stars.
The Team of the Decade is:
Paul Rudd, DJ Watson, David White, Greg Todd, Susantha Pradeep, Paul Franks (capt), Troy Aust (keeper), Jerome Jones, Luke Fletcher, Jeremy Kuru, Wes Nicholas. 12th man: Matthew Goodwright.
Voting for the Team of the Decade proved a conundrum, turning the usual process on its head with voters more conflicted over who to leave out rather than pick, especially as the basic requirement was to pick a “balanced” side.
In the end, so difficult was the process that even a Wookey medallist and a premiership captain just missed out.
Shane D’Rozario, the 2006/07 Wookey Medallist, was unlucky to miss out by a whisker, as did 2012/13 captain-coach Marc Calkin and 2016/17 captain/coach Steven Mullaney, whose time at Buckley was cruelly cut shot by injury.
Rudd, Watson, Aust, and Goodwright have played all their cricket, right through juniors, for Buckley – except of a couple of seasons when Watson and Aust played Premier cricket for Casey; Watson also spent a couple of seasons at Dandenong early on. Nicholas joined them not long out of juniors and like Rudd, Watson and Goodwright, has been a member of all three premiership winning Buckley teams during the decade.
Paul Franks, the unanimous choice as captain, led Buckley to its first premiership in 50 years in 2009/10 and not unnaturally has the nickname ‘General’. He is a stalwart at Nottinghamshire Cricket Club in England, a past player now the head assistant coach. He also played one limited over match for England.
Luke Fletcher, who has spent four seasons at Buckley and widely adopted as a “favourite son”, is another Notts player still excelling for his county.
David White, who was captain/coach of Buckley for two seasons, played first class cricket in South Africa, including for South Africa A, and set the DDCA ablaze with his bat in 2018/19, re-writing all sorts of batting records. He topped his personal performances with a big century in the premiership win that year.
Susantha Pradeep, known as the ‘Little Master’, was a star in sub-district cricket and before that played first class cricket in Sri Lanka.
Greg Todd played first class cricket in New Zealand and played for New Zealand A and has played in Buckley’s two most recent premierships.
Fellow Kiwi, Jeremy Kuru, was the fastest bowler in the DDCA for three seasons, and probably as fast as anyone ever to play in the association. He was extremely unlucky to miss out playing in a grand final after being injured in the semi final victory.
Jerome Jones, who played Under-19s for the West Indies in the u19 world cup, was a sensation in the DDCA last season with both bat and ball.