For Tharindu Perera, Newtown’s Sri Lankan-born off-season recruit, the biggest thing he’s noticed in Dubbo is the facilities and possibilities available to all aspiring players.
Perera was born and raised in Sri Lanka before moving to England, where he gained British citizenship.
He played at high levels in both countries but an urge to travel and experience life in Australia led him to Dubbo and the all-rounder said he’s been amazed by the options available to young cricketers.
“That’s what I love about this sport, when I see these kids it makes me remember my childhood, we didn’t have these facilities but we never gave up and tried improve everyday,” he said.
“Whenever we had free time, even in the class room, we’d use a pencil box as a bat and roll a few papers to make a ball because we just love the game.”
An online advertisement from Newtown player Dan French was noticed by Perera when he was looking for a club to join in Australia and it wasn’t long before the left-arm spinner was moving in with the Skinner family on their dairy.
“I’m really enjoying it, the Skinners are looking after me really well,” he said. “Everyone has been really nice and welcoming but I haven’t seen the town much yet but I’m looking forward to exploring Dubbo and Australia.”
As a youngster Perera, now 30, played with the Sinhalese Sports Club in Sri Lanka, where he rubbed shoulders with internationals such as Mahela Jayawardene, Marvan Atapattu, Thilan Samaraweera and Avishka Gunawardene.
“I played there for three years, mainly in their top 15, I played one first class game and there was nine or 10 guys who played for Sri Lanka so it was a really, really strong side,” he said.
“I was 18 or 19 and in the Sri Lankan spinners academy at that time and had been in the under-17 national pool so it was a really good experience and I was on the bench when Atapattu hit a few double hundreds so it was unforgettable memories.”
From there he moved to England, to study and to play cricket, and after gaining British citizenship Perera lived in London for six years and played for the Nottinghamshire county second eleven.
Since moving Dubbo Perera has impressed for Newtown in their first match and despite losing to Macquarie he was called up for Dubbo’s Western Premier League match on Sunday against Bathurst, where he played a starring role.
“It was not bad a start, it was a good game,” he said.
“I didn’t know anything about the rep cricket I just came to play at Newtown but Matt Skinner organised for me to go to training and I went and did my bit and they asked me to play and we did well and I came on and did a bit of damage, I took 4-29.”
As well as playing at Dubbo, Perera will also coach an under-16s side and assist the Greater Western Cricket Academy is sessions at Dubbo Sports World.
“I’m working with youngsters so I’m looking forward to taking them to the next level,” he said.
“I’ve grown up in Sri Lanka and moved to England and those experiences have really helped me to become a good coach.”
Perera admitted this would be his only season at Dubbo, with his visa valid until next April, but said there was a lot he wanted to do before then, with trips to the Gold Coast and possibly Melbourne planned before continuing his dream of playing cricket all over the world.
“I’m here to April next year and then I’m going back to Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks to visit family,” he said.
“Then I want to keep travelling so I’ve applied for a couple of clubs in the Netherlands and also in Florida.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.