By Nick Creely
Whether with the bat through the middle order or spinning a web through the opposition, Berwick star Ruwantha Kellepotha has lit up the Dandenong District Cricket Association in 2020/21.
And now he’s an Alan Wookey Medal winner for champion Turf 1 player of the season.
The Berwick premiership all-rounder entered Sunday’s vote count as comfortable favourite to snare the association’s top individual award and was never threatened, becoming the first player at the club since Brad Francis in 2009/10 to snare the award.
Kellepotha finished the day on a whopping 45 votes, with Hallam Kalora Park star Leigh Booth (28), Narre South seamer Josh Dowling (22), and spinners Jarryd Straker (20) and Sachith Jayasingha (19) rounding out the top five.
In a golden season, Kellepotha struck 353 runs at 44.1, while taking 34 wickets at 11.2, with a phenomenal strike rate of 20.2 with the ball.
Some of the all-rounder’s most electric performances of the season included 37 not out and 4/36 in Round 1, 4/31 in Round 3, 4/34 in Round 4, 82 not out and 3/21 in Round 6, 63 and 6/31 in Round 10, 4/38 in Round 12 and 64 in Round 14, and with a finals campaign on the horizon is every chance to break past 400 runs and 40 wickets for the season.
Kellepotha will be a major key for the Bears as Matt Chasemore’s group look for back-to-back Turf 1 flags, with his ability to turn matches in a matter of moments with bat and ball a major feature of his game.
Hallam Kalora Park’s Leigh Booth was another strong poller after a superb season for the minor premiers, striking 431 runs at 39.2 and taking 15 wickets at 17.4.
Josh Dowling also enjoyed a cracking first season with Narre South, with the ex-Casey-South Melbourne quick a menace with the ball to take 31 wickets at 12.7, which included four four-wicket hauls and a five-wicket haul. He took 23 wickets after Christmas alone.
The DDCA also announced its Turf 1 Team of the Year: Daniel Watson (Buckley Ridges), Leigh Booth (Hallam Kalora Park), Ryan Quirk (Springvale South), Matthew Chasemore (Berwick), Ruwantha Kellepotha (Berwick), Clayton McCartney (North Dandenong), Kusan Niranjana (St Mary’s), Jordan Hammond (Hallam Kalora Park), Ciaron Connolly (wk, Hallam Kalora Park), Josh Dowling (Narre South), Jarryd Straker (Springvale South), Will Whyte (Hallam Kalora Park)
Dandenong West’s Gurpreet Singh, meanwhile, snared Turf 2’s Charles Gartside Medal as champion player of the grade after a strong all-rounder season for the Westers.
The all-rounder polled 26 votes, narrowly edging out Beaconsfield pair Michael Vandort and Tyler Clark on 23 votes, while Parkfield’s Dishan Malalasekera and Parkmore Pirates’ Madhawa Fonseka both finished on 22 votes.
Singh produced some standout performances with both bat and ball throughout 2020/21, crunching 208 runs at 23.1 and snaring 23 wickets at 12.2.
He scored two half-centuries for the season to go along with a four wicket-haul and a five-wicket haul.
Here’s the Turf 2 Team of the Year: Michael Vandort (Beaconsfield), Zach Allen (Narre Warren), Tyler Clark (Beaconsfield), Mick Sweeney (Cranbourne), Pete Sweeney (Cranbourne), Tanil Dehigaspitiya (Parkfield), Dishan Malalasekera (Parkfield), Ben Swift (wk, Narre Warren), Josh Dinger (Narre Warren), Shaun Weir (Dandenong West), Callan Tout (Beaconsfield), Nicholas Jeffrey (Parkfield)