Starring role at Rother Valley club for ex-Sri Lanka youth international cricketer Anuk Fernando
An overseas professional is hoping his summer in South Yorkshire can propel him into Sri Lanka’s cricket team after bowling locals away with his talents.
Anuk Fernando, who represented The Lions at the 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, is currently starring for Anston Cricket Club’s first team, who play in the Bassetlaw and District Cricket League Championship.
The 25-year-old all-rounder played first-class cricket in his home country last season and has endeared himself to his new team-mates by scoring runs at a rate of knots and skittling opposition batsmen for single figures with his fast bowling.
"He's been an absolute storm," said first team captain Josh Littlewood, aged 24.
"Apart from being the best player in the league he's pretty much just glued us all together.
"He's five-star to watch, he's brilliant. He's a great lad, his English is great and he's down for a beer after games."
Anuk took more wickets than any other player at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in 2014 and played alongside Binura Fernando and good friend Kusal Mendis, who were both recently part of the Sri Lanka team that took on England in a T20 and ODI series.
South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada also featured in the tournament along with Kuldeep Yadav of India.
His current cricketing surroundings and temporary home in Dinnington are a million miles away in comparison but the experience, like his favourite British meal of fish and chips, is one to savour.
“It’s really good, I am enjoying it,” Anuk said. “This is my third time in the UK, I played for Mansfield Hosiery Mills for a couple of years [2018 and 2019].
"I like the way they play and the wickets. As a fast bowler I think it’s more useful for me to bowl and take wickets on this kind of wicket and also I can learn a lot about batting.”
Life in South Yorkshire isn’t too bad, either.
"The people who live here, they are really nice and the club members are really good and I like the food,” he said.
"The house I’m staying in, he’s really looking after me. I’m enjoying living here.”
Anston welcome an overseas player every year and had been due to host a professional from South Africa this summer but 'bit the bullet' on that arrangement due to concerns over the coronavirus variant there.
Anuk was a late replacement and missed the opening two games of the season, but has quickly made up for lost time. In seven innings he has hit no fewer than 62 fours and 36 sixes, with a high score of 283. Not bad for a player who sees himself as a middle-order batsman.
He also took four for 15 with the ball as Anston dismissed one team for just 58 runs.
The club are keen to retain Anuk for next summer and he hasn’t ruled out returning, unless a bigger opportunity presented itself.
"My ambition is to play for the Sri Lankan team,” he said.
"There’s good players but I think it’s just one good season away at the moment. If I can play a good season over there, I think I can make it.
"If I don’t get a chance to play for Sri Lanka or be in a squad, hopefully I’ll come back again.”