Welegedara signs with VTCA North A1 club Westmeadows

216440-7bad9c42-f6c5-11e4-8fc5-657045979d79In the hours after Westmeadows announced the signing of Sri Lankan test paceman Chanaka Welegedara, the enormity of the task facing batsmen this summer in Turf Cricket North A1 became apparent.

One rival captain suggested he hoped the Warriors were moved to West A1, while others expressed their fortune at not playing in North A1 — the third tier of the VTCA.

Welegedara, who played his most recent test against Pakistan in August last year, has inked a one-year deal with Westmeadows for 2015-16.

Warriors president Paul Lloyd said he hoped the 34-year-old, who is still ranked in the top 40 test bowlers in the world, would be a long-term player for the club.

“When we first started chatting, it was a bit of a long shot for us that has come off,” Lloyd said.

Westmeadows held discussions with Welegedara for about four weeks before sealing his the stunning recruiting coup.

“We got him through a contact of our coach Danny (Law),” he said.

“Unbeknownst to us, he’s actually good friends with our other fast bowler Sathpath (Kamburugamuwa).”

Merlynston Hadfield captain Michael Pell admitted he was caught by surprise when he first heard the Warriors had snared Welegedara.

“I was a bit taken aback to be honest,” Pell said.

“You probably don’t get many teams in that lower standard of cricket picking up that quality of player.

“Once the initial shock wore off and the disbelief that we’d be playing against a former test cricketer just out of the game (sunk in), there was a bit of excitement about it.”

Aberfeldie captain Kieren Gray said his team’s batsmen would embrace the challenge of taking on a player who snared 55 wickets in 21 tests.

“I think we’ll have to crank the bowling machine up and get a bit more practice,” Gray said.

“We’ll crank it up, shorten the pitches at training and do our best to prepare for it.”

The signing comes after Westmeadows was relegated from North Division following an “embarrassing” 2014-15 campaign.

“We were embarrassed and disappointed from last season and we want to bounce straight back up,” Lloyd said.

“What better way to do it than to get someone in like that to help us bowl sides out.

“I’m hoping he’ll be a handy bat as well.”

Welegedara is expected to arrive in Australia in July and take part in Westmeadows’ pre-season.

FACT FILE

Chanaka Welegedara

Age: 34

Tests: 21

Test wickets: 55

Best bowling: 5-52

Did you know? Welegedara holds the world record for the most economical spell in Twenty20 cricket. Playing in Sri Lanka’s domestic league, he took 4-2 from four overs.

(Courtesy Herald Sun)

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