A LEFT-hander with a Sri Lankan first-class century this year is among the recruits to reigning Bendigo District Cricket Association premiers Sandhurst for the upcoming season.
The Dragons have lost three players from their drought-breaking premiership team of last season, but have secured a trio of key recruits to cover the losses.
Departures from the Dragons’ team that won the club’s first flag since 1979 are their two Sri Lankan top-order batsmen, Nayana Palamandadige and Sam De Silva, and young gun Todd Murphy, an under-17 Cricket Australia XI representative last season.
Keeper-opening batsman Palamandadige, who has returned to Sri Lanka, was the BDCA’s leading run-scorer last season, ending his summer at the Dragons with 787 runs at an average of 52.4 that included three centuries.
No.3 batsman De Silva, who has moved back to Western Australia, scored 388 runs for the Dragons, while all-rounder Murphy, who has joined Premier Cricket club St Kilda, combined 284 runs with 19 wickets.
However, just like last year, the Dragons have again recruited strongly during the off-season.
While they have lost two of their Sri Lankan batsmen from last season, they have another on the way in 24-year-old Shasheen Fernando.
Fernando has played first class cricket in Sri Lanka with Pandura Sports Club and Lankan Cricket Club.
The opening batsman made 122 for Lankan against Kalutara Town in January this year in Sri Lanka’s Premier League Tier B Tournament.
Fernando – who has played 22 first-class games in Sri Lanka – is also an off-spin bowler.
As well as Fernando, the Dragons have added 2016 Victoria Country representative Matt Combe from Horsham Saints.
All-rounder Combe is a top-order batsman and medium-pace bowler.
And while Murphy has left the Dragons, his older brother, Joel, who has previously played at St Kilda, is joining the club as another top-order batsman.
“We’re really happy with all the recruits we’ve picked up and believe we’ve filled what we lost,” said Dragons coach Taylor Beard, who is a former Victoria Country team-mate of Combe.
We’re really happy with all the recruits we’ve picked up and believe we’ve filled what we lostTaylor Beard, Sandhurst coach
“We’ve lost three of our top-four batsmen of last season, but brought in three who can bat in the top four, and we’ll also be hoping for more improvement from within.
“We have a lot of talented young players at the club… out of our first and second XI teams that made grand finals last season we had 10 under the age of 20 and they were all playing important roles.
“We’ll have young players like Kayde Howard and Nahid Hossain from the second XI team putting their hand up in the first XI and really putting the pressure on, which will be good for the club.”
The Dragons began their pre-season training last week.
The 2018-19 BDCA season begins on October 6.
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