By Nick Creely
DDCA powerhouse Buckley Ridges has moved to secure two more prized names as it searches for a second Turf 1 premiership in three years this coming season – signing two stars to add to an already glittering list.
Ex-Sri Lankan international quick Chanaka Welegedera will call Park Oval home after signing for the Bucks late last week, crossing over from Strathmore in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association, where he has enjoyed a stunning three years – including a premiership in 2018/19.
The left-arm quick – who played 21 Test matches for Sri Lanka, 10 ODIs and two Twenty20s – snaffled 100 wickets at 14.86 across his 45 matches for Strathmore, after a previous, equally impressive stint with Westmeadows for two seasons upon immigrating to Melbourne in 2015.
The Bucks have also locked in Gloucestershire batsman Ian Cockbain for this season, with the English star to add yet another dimension to the side.
Australia is a familiar place for the Englishman – with his wife Amy an Australian who hails from Adelaide – and he has extensive experience playing club and district cricket around the country.
The free-scoring, entertaining 33-year-old – who has played First Class cricket (four centuries) over many years, but has more recently been one of the finest Twenty20 batsmen in the English NatWest T20 Blast competition – played for East Torrens in the South Australia Premier Cricket competition last season after also spending two seasons there in 2014/15 and 2015/16, racked up 610 runs at 55.5, and has enjoyed strong club cricket stints in Melbourne with Bonbeach and Beaumaris.
The pair of announcements comes after the club’s previous signing of DDCA champion and 2017/18 Wookey Medalist Michael ‘Slick’ Davies from Heinz Southern Districts, with the all-rounder a long-time star of the association. The club has also welcomed back Hussain Ali after a stint with Kooweerup in the West Gippsland Cricket Association.
Chief recruiter and club secretary Chris Rattle said the club was delighted to welcome in so many quality cricketers.
“We’re really happy – Ian (Cockbain), we’ve been really confident for a while now of getting him, but to get it all done is great,” he said.
“He should do really well, and the main thing is he’s a really nice guy – he’s got a good record, I’ve spoken to a lot of people that he’s played with and they gave him a high recommendation.
“His highlights from YouTube look good, so he should suit our ground.
“And we needed another bowler too, so with Chanaka and Slick coming in we should be okay.
“(Chanaka) came out of the blue a little bit – Susa Pradeep sent me a message saying he was moving out this way, so Sonny De Silva (president) got onto it straight away – we needed another bowler, we can’t just rely on DJ (Watson).
“(Davies) is a champion of the league and he’s grown up with DJ and those guys, they won the Mitchell Shield all the way back in under-12s together, so we’re really pleased.”
At this stage, the Bucks are also desperately hoping star South African David White will be able to return, with Rattle confident that if the borders open he’ll be back this season. But the club all but ruled a line through fellow international Jerome Jones returning due to Covid-19, with the hope that the towering West Indian quick will return the following year.
Club stalwart Greg Todd will also depart the Turf 1 ranks due to work commitments, but could be available for Twenty20s at this stage.