For eight rounds many within the Illawarra cricketing community have been waiting for Udara Jayasundara to single-handedly turn a game in his team’s favour.
On Saturday, he did exactly that.
Living in Wollongong and playing for Wests while his wife studies at the University of Wollongong, Jayasundara’s talent with the ball in hand proved far too good for a helpless Helensburgh side.
The former Sri Lankan Test representative spun through the Helensburgh batting lineup at Figtree Oval, claiming figures of 8-32 in a masterful display as the Tigers were bowled out for 111.
“It was a great bowling performance, he really did a job for us,” Wests captain Tylar Edwards said. “I was expecting that he would do something like that at some point in the season, he did it yesterday and it was very impressive.
“All our bowlers did their job at the other end, built pressure, and that allowed Udara to spin his web. At some points batsmen were looking to score off him, and that’s how he was able to take his wickets.”
Despite playing as a batting all-rounder, Jayasundara boasts the full repertoire of deliveries every top leg-spin bowler possesses, including the traditional leg-break, the wrong ‘un, and the flipper.
On Saturday, it was those variations the brought Helensburgh undone, with batsmen exposed to a variety of deliveries and quality-level rarely seen in Cricket Illawarra competition. Unsurprisingly, they were not up to the challenge.
“He’s a leg spinner, but it was the wrong ‘uns and flippers that got the wickets.
“He was only a part-time bowler in Sri Lanka, but you can tell he has experience. Coming from the subcontinent where spin’s the main weapon, he’s bowled a lot of it and he brought that experience to tear them apart.
“The wicket wasn’t turning too much, it was more the skill of Udara with his variations to set the batsmen up and bamboozle them.”
Saturday wasn’t all one-way traffic, however, with Helensburgh mounting a fightback late in the day.
Leading the charge was Luke Falkiner. Having recently returned from a stint in England, Falkiner continued his hot run of form to take three wickets and reduce Wests to 5-68 at stumps.
Edwards recognises his side still has a lot of work to do next Saturday to secure first-innings points, but he is confident there will be no further wobbles and they will finish off the job.
In other matches, a pair of brilliant individual performances has the Wollongong and University clash evenly poised. Dave Studholme (93) helped the side to 259, while Swapnil Bhatnagar did the damage with the ball for Uni, taking 7-67. Uni are 0-8 at stumps.
Balgownie’s batsmen stumbled for the second match in a row, falling for 140. In reply, Keira are 1-67.
Corrimal captain Xavier McDevitt led the way for his side, taking five wickets as Dapto were bowled out for 138. The Cougars are 3-40 in reply.
Port Kembla were bowled out for 81, with Northern Districts 3-62 at stumps.