By Nick Creely
There was a local flavour to the recent Victorian Second XI match, with Dandenong District Cricket Association champion Ruwantha Kellepotha and rising youngster Ashley Chandrasinghe making their debuts on the MCG.
Kellepotha – who clinched the DDCA’s highest individual honour, the Alan Wookey Medal last season with Berwick but has had incredible stints with Springvale South, Keysborough and St Mary’s – broke through to higher honours after just one game at Premier Cricket level with the Swans.
He is one of the association’s finest players of the last decade.
The 30-year-old played 20 First Class matches in Sri Lanka, averaging 38.56 with the bat and 29.41 with the ball, before moving to Australia where he settled in as one of the biggest stars of the south-east suburbs.
In the four-day game against ACT/NSW Country, the pair – both playing their Premier Cricket at Casey-South Melbourne – were extremely impressive as they pushed for potential state selection this season and beyond.
Kellepotha’s experience proved vital with the bat in the first innings, scoring a handy 26 not out, including two sixes.
But it was his leggies that impressed most, sending down 26 overs for the return of 2/71, bouncing back brilliantly from a shaky start.
However, it was 19-year-old Ashley Chandrasinghe – a Buckley Ridges junior – that shone on the wide expanses of the ‘G.
The talented young left-handed opening batter top-scored in both innings for the Victorian side, scoring a patient 56 off 151 balls in the first dig, hitting five boundaries before he was eventually bowled.
In the second innings, with the wickets tumbling, Chandrasinghe stood tall and helped salvage the Victorians into a winning position, scoring a gutsy 68 from 178 balls, with his side just mustering up 162.
He spent a total of almost eight hours at the crease, showcasing his impenetrable technique and patience.
Victoria and ACT/NSW Country eventually drew the game with rain intervening late in the fourth day, with Fergus O’Neill (3/43), skipper Xavier Crone (51) and opener Jack Rudd (50) other Victorians to impress across the four day match.