THE last Englishman to wear Warrnambool colours at Melbourne Country Week is etched in association folklore.
Durham-born Karl Turner set the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association alight in 2014-15 with 874 runs and 21 wickets, which earned the opening batsmen a ticket to Melbourne.
Jack Sunderland, a West Warrnambool import like Turner, has bucked every trend to earn selection – just like his countryman three seasons prior.
The 24-year-old’s form at club level was irresistible for selectors, who overrode a policy of picking only south-west talent to include the Sussex native in the 14-strong squad.
He’s such an aggressive, hard-hitting player.Jack Sunderland
“It’s definitely something I’m proud of,” Sunderland, a star basketballer, said.
“From what I’ve been told, Karl (Turner) was just in another league. But it’s an absolute privilege to be picked as an import and to represent West.”
Sunderland revealed he was relishing the test of bowling on some of the state’s most time-honoured grounds.
“I’ve been asking around and the thing I’ve been told is to not fall in love with the short ball too much,” he said.
“I want to predominantly keep the ball pitched up. I’ll need to make sure I’m disciplined and execute the plans we put in place correctly.
“It’s definitely been a different experience training and playing with the people you compete against and week-in, week-out. But it’s been great, and I feel like I’ve been welcomed into the team.
“I can’t wait to get started.”
Warrnambool captain Nathan Murphy said Sunderland’s aggressive bowling style forced selectors to take notice.
He revealed the all-rounder would bowl early in the piece and would add steel to Warrnambool’s lower order with the bat.
“He’ll have a big role with us,” Murphy said.
“He’s such an aggressive, hard-hitting player.”