RUSSELLS Creek veteran Jayaweera ‘Bundy’ Bandara defied interrupted preparation to be crowned Warrnambool and District Cricket Association’s division one cricketer of the year last night.
A chef, Bandara rushes to and from work to play each weekend.
“I normally work until about 1pm and one-day games start at 12.30pm so I rush there and sometimes they have already started the game,” he said.
Occasionally Bandara is thrown into the action, arriving just in time to take his place at the crease after Creek has lost quick wickets early.
“It happened a few times and it’s just put on your pads as soon as you get there,” he said.
“But this year it’s been very good and sometimes I have 15 or 20 minutes to practice before I go out there.”
The Sri Lankan’s win followed his 2006-07 success, when he was part of a four-way tie for the J. A Brebner Cup.
Bandara, 43, credited a move to the middle order for his strong season and his first outright WDCA win.
He shone batting at number six, moving down from his regular number four spot to win the batting aggregate with 485 runs and the batting average with 69.29.
The right-hand bat made five half-centuries and had a top score of 95, proving a model of consistency in a Creek side which failed to make the division one finals.
Bandara polled in six of his 11 games.
He had a blistering start to the season, polling seven votes in his first four games.
A lean voting patch followed, before he finished with two best-on-ground performances in rounds nine and 10.
It was the three in round 19 that clinched the win.
Merrivale’s Will Chapples and West Warrnambool skipper Ben Dobson were tied for second on 14 votes.
Chapples needed a two in the final round to tie and polled one vote, while Dobson needed a three to draw level and received two votes.
Chapples polled in seven matches and Dobson in six, including the final three rounds of the season.
Panther Simon Johnson was third with 11 votes.
Bandara said he wanted to be a strong cricketing role model for his son Dominic.
“My son is only 11 and I want to play a division one game with him so hopefully if I keep this level up I can play with him,” Bandara said.
“He is playing under 11, under 13 and under 15 and played a division three game this year too.”
Bandara last night said Russells Creek had a bright future.
“I think we did really good this year but we have heaps of kids so hopefully they will come up next year,” Bandara said.
“The last two years we’ve encouraged kids to play so now is the time.”
In a sign of Woodford’s bright future, Jacob McKinnon was named rookie of the year and Nick Butters collected the Glenn Denning award for best player under 21.