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Off-spinner makes sudden impact

Jeewan De Silva made an immediate impression on the Lennox Head cricket team after arriving from Sri Lanka, taking 6-42 against Murwillumbah last weekend.
Jeewan De Silva made an immediate impression on the Lennox Head cricket team after arriving from Sri Lanka, taking 6-42 against Murwillumbah last weekend. CATHY ADAMS

CULTURE class began last weekend with the addition of Sri Lankan spinner Jeewan De Silva to the Lennox Head team in Far North CoastLJ Hooker League cricket.

The 25-year-old will play the rest of the season with Lennox after having his arrival delayed by visa and immigration complications; it was originally intended he would play the entire season.

De Silva, from Kalutara in the country’s south-west, landed in Australia on Friday last week and within 24 hours had collected six Murwillumbah wickets with his deceptive off-breaks.

While wickets are welcome, Lennox Head club president Steve O’Neill said the benefits of having De Silva around were much greater than just an increase in success on the field.

“It really adds some interest to the competition and what we are looking to do is open doors for our cricketers in the future,” O’Neill said.

“Not everyone is going to play Test cricket but here we are building pathways for cricketers to see the world through the game.”

The flashy tweaker is making the most of his time on the Far North Coast by training for a Level 2 coaching certificate; his Level 1 already has him passing on tips to our would-be Warnies.

“It’s great for our youngsters, in a cultural and a cricket sense, to be able to interact with a Sri Lankan cricketer,” O’Neill said.

“It’s not every day they get to have a chat with a bloke who has bowled on those sub-continent wickets where spinners either sink or swim.”

The club is certainly getting its money’s worth out of the right-arm bowler who has also been delegated to prepare the wicket.

Opposition clubs may think that proves a sizeable benefit to an offie, but De Silva seems to take wickets no matter where he goes.

In a previous stint down under, the Murali clone – playing for Western Australian club side Redbacks – was leading wicket-taker for the club.

In his last season of first grade cricket in Sri Lanka he took more than 100 wickets in 12 matches for his club Seeduwa Raddoluwa.

While his hefty hauls are unlikely to be repeated in the remaining four Hooker League rounds, the spinner and the club are keen to see him return for a full season next campaign.

De Silva holds Test cricket’s greatest wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan as a mentor and has had plenty to do with him at Sri Lanka’s cricket academy.

“Murali is a great hero of mine, in cricket and in life,” De Silva said.

He admits to copying the action of the man who has tallied 792 Test wickets, but declines to respond when asked if he has had the same troubles with umpires as when Murali was famously called for chucking 13 times by umpire Darrell Hair in the Boxing Day Test of 1995.