First import for Blackheath cricket club

Richie Shehan Nanayakkara explains some finer points of batting to young members of the Blackheath Cricket Club.
Richie Shehan Nanayakkara explains some finer points of batting to young members of the Blackheath Cricket Club.

It's a lot colder in Blackheath than in his home town of Negombo in Sri Lanka but Richie Shehan Nanayakkara is learning to cope.

He was particularly pleased when temperatures soared this week, after he had arrived in the Mountains to a much cooler than anticipated spring.

The 24-year-old is the Blackheath Cricket Club's first overseas player, signing on for the six-month season while he takes a short break from his business studies degree at home.

The club decided to invest in bringing Nanayakkara here, both to boost its own ranks and to give someone from the sub-continent the opportunity to experience life in Australia.

Club vice-president, Adrian Laing, said the club believed Nanayakkara is the the first overseas cricketer to play in the Blue Mountains competition.

"We had some money in the bank from our sponsors, including local business. We haven't spent a lot in the past so with that, and the generosity of some of our club members, we were able to offer Richie this position," he said.

"We figured we live in a world heritage area. It's a beautiful spot and we thought it would be good to give an opportunity to someone from the subcontinent."

The club put the word out on an international cricket exchange website and, after navigating some bureaucratic issues, got their man earlier this month.

Nanayakkara has played representative cricket for his province in under-17s and under-19s, the equivalent of playing for NSW youth teams.

While the Blue Mountains cricket competition is perhaps not as fierce as the standard he is used to, Nanayakkara will get other benefits from his sojourn here - club members include canyoners, rock climbers, paragliders and bushwalkers, said club secretary, Mark McGrath.

"We can certainly offer him some adventure experiences here," he said.

Nanayakkara played his first match last weekend, scoring 37 and getting the wicket of one Leura's top order batsmen.

He was at the Blackheath oval nets on Tuesday afternoon, helping to coach the younger players.

"Some of them don't have a good technique so I am happy to help them out," he said.

Nanayakkara is an all-rounder with a career top score of 140 and many five wicket hauls. He has been clocked at bowling 130 km/h, which is likely to make opposition teams sit up and take notice.

For Nanayakkara, the most difficult adjustment has been the weather: "I came out her and it was freezing," he said.

Thankfully, summer is just around the corner.