NORTH EAST BOUND: Sri Lankan cricketer Dilhara Lokuhettige is expected to play for Tallangatta this season. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Nanjing Night Net

AN ALL-ROUNDERwho has represented Sri Lanka will play for Tallangatta this season, two years after the club first tried to recruit him.

Dilhara Lokuhettige, 36, played nine one-day internationals and two T20 games for his country in a career that includes 146 first class matches.

A right-handed batsman and fast-mediumbowler, Lokuhettige is due to arrive in Australia on September 26.

Tallangatta club captain Matt Armstrong said the situationcame about through the recruit’s friendship withMount Beauty player Ashan Ranaweera after an earlier import had pulled out.

“It’s been a two-yearjourney to get him out here,” Armstrong said.

“We attempted to get him out for last season but there were difficulties around migration and the visas.

“We overcame those concerns this year.We had to get letters from Cricket Australia, had to get letters from the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, we had to do sponsorship arrangements, so it’s been sixmonths of pretty hard work to get that through.”

Lokuhettige made his one-day international debut against India in 2005 and also played his most recentODI against that country eight years later.

His international T20 matches took place in October 2008.

According to the cricinfo website, the cricketer began first class cricket in the 2000-01 season and has amassed 5464 runs at an average of 25.89, scoring seven centuries and 20 half centuries, with a highest score of 211.

In bowling, he has claimed 354 wickets at 24.44, with best figures of 7/64.

“Dilhara Lokuhettige is one of the first Sri Lankan cricketers to be labelled a Twenty20 specialist,” cricinfo said.

Armstrong felt the recruit would fit well into the Tallangatta side.

“We’ve had experience of bringing guys in from overseas consistently for a decade now,” he said.“All of our guys will have a lot to learn from him, having played international cricket alongside some pretty good players.”

The clubheld an informal gathering on Sunday ahead of pre-season training starting next week.

Armstrong said Tallangatta’s line-up would be similar to last season’s team.

“We’ll have Dilhara obviously and looking like another player from England coming out to join us for the year and then all of the players that we had last year have re-signed to go around again,” he said.“It’s just a really good culture out there, so people come on one or two-year deals and end up staying for a decade.”

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