TERRY Beks was plying his trade in England when the prospect of Dennington featuring a travelling Sri Lankan cricketer became a possibility.
Such was the informal nature in which the idea was raised, Beks was skeptical Sammy Kandage would ever make it to Australian shores.
“I met Sammy while playing cricket in England,” Beks recalled yesterday. “He lived with two Sri Lankans in my team.
“He said to me ‘I’m going to come and play with you’ and I thought ‘sure’ and didn’t hear from him.” But Kandage made it Down Under and made his debut for Dennington in 1991-92, playing again in 1995-96.
In doing so, he became the first Sri Lankan to feature in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association.
His presence paved the way for others such as Jayaweera Bandara, Tharanga Fernando, Visura Chinthaka and Shashan Silva to follow suit.
Their presence has lifted the standard of the competition and helped build the profile of the WDCA overseas.
“If you go through a few of the ones that have been here, they’ve won cricketer of the year awards and performed well,” Beks said.
“Shash, last year he got 350 runs and just under 20 wickets and probably did it the year before (as well).
“They fit in well with the club. They’ve all been really good people.”
The latest sub-continent import to don the red cap of Dennington is batsman/wicketkeeper Daminda Ranaweera.
Ranaweera, 33, debuted for the club last weekend, scoring 31 and 5 in two Twenty20 matches. He arrives in Warrnambool with a cricket resume including first class experience in Sri Lanka and England.
Like those before him, there is a sense of expectation about what Ranaweera, from Kandy, can deliver.
But his captain Dustin Drew simply hopes his recruit can be a role-player as the Dogs attempt to avenge their grand final defeat.
“Bandara is the best Sri Lankan to come here and play,” Drew said.
“They will never come here and dominate. I have never seen one who has and I will never see one who will.
“As long as he can play his role for the side, I’ll be happy. As the season goes on, he’ll be better and better.”
As for Ranaweera, he just wants to make runs and take catches.
“I’m trying to play some better cricket in Australia,” he said.
“I don’t know the standard. I’m just trying to better my performance and show how much I can do.
“I haven’t played much for Dennington, only a couple of games in Twenty20.
“I want to have a look at how the 50-over and two-day matches go.”