By Nick Creely
Narre South is looking to quickly move on from the pain of last year’s semi-final loss to Buckley Ridges with some sharp recruiting moves to kick-start the off-season signing frenzy.
The rising Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) Turf 1 club – based out of Strathaird Reserve – has added some serious quality to its playing stocks, with seamer Josh Dowling crossing over after a successful stint with Victorian Premier Cricket outfit, CaseySouth Melbourne.
The right-armer adds a tremendous amount to a talented bowling group, with Dowling only recently taking out Casey’s bowling average after a solid season in an otherwise tough season for the club.
Dowling has played most of his local cricket with rival Narre North, and was part of the Turf 2 premiership side that defeated the Lions in 2017/18. The Lions have also added some vital experience, with the renowned Kaushalya Weeraratne signing on with the club after a superb stint with Heinz Southern Districts (HSD).
Across 75 games for the Cobras, Weeraratne struck 2701 runs at 38.04 with six centuries, while with the ball the right arm quick snared 104 wickets at 16.61.
An ex-Sri Lankan international who played 15 ODIs and five Twenty20s for his country, he played in the Vic Super Slam with Frankston Peninsula last season, and also played three seasons with Narre Warren.
The major recruitment announcement comes after champion skipper Scott Phillips elected to play on for another season after initially announcing his retirement from the game after a storied career locally.
One of the greatest players in Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association (MPCA) history, Phillips’ stint at Narre South so far has included 2227 runs at 48.41 and 148 wickets at 11.97 across 58 matches, and he will be back to help the Lions push for the ultimate glory next season.
The formidable Buckley Ridges has also landed a major coup, with Michael ‘Slick’ Davies also leaving HSD after an incredible career with the club.
The champion all-rounder and Wookey Medal winner has been one of the constants for the club for well over a decade, but has decided to join the Bucks as the club chases more Turf 1 glory. The club has also confirmed that West Indian Jerome Jones has re-committed, while the Bucks are still on the hunt for one or two more recruits.
Hallam Kalora Park has welcomed back one of its favourite sons, with all-rounder Jordan Hammond returning after a stint with Casey-South Melbourne in Premier Cricket.
After breaking into the Swans’ first XI in Round 7, Hammond was impressive, taking eight wickets and scoring 86 runs. His return strengthens a Hawks side that was on the brink of Turf 1 finals.
Turf 2 club Narre Warren has also made a key announcement, with Brett Lewis signing on as head coach for the next two seasons. Lewis – a renowned coach with successful stints at Cranbourne and Narre North to his name, as well as work with Casey-South Melbourne – adds a tremendous amount of experience to the club.
In Turf 3, Fountain Gate has brought in experienced batsman Rumesh Rangana as a playing assistant coach after striking 260 Turf 1 runs for Narre South in 2019/20.