Sri Lankan star eyes return to Papplewick

PAPPLEWICK COMEBACK? -- Sri Lankan all-rounder Kosala Kulasekara.
PAPPLEWICK COMEBACK? -- Sri Lankan all-rounder Kosala Kulasekara.

Relegated PAPPLEWICK AND LINBY are hoping to lure a Sri Lankan international back to the club to boost their hopes of an immediate return to the Notts Premier League (NPL).

All-rounder Kosala Kulasekara, who made a big impact with Papplewick in 2008, has been lined up as their star overseas signing.

A 28-year-old who has played in one Test and four one-day internationals for Sri Lanka, Kulasekara is a big-hitting batsman and a lively bowler.

He only just failed to make his country’s squad for the Twenty20 World Cup earlier this year. And he helped Papplewick into fourth place in the NPL on his last visit to the UK, scoring an 83-minute century in one match.

However, the club’s new chairman Neil South says his chances of re-signing hinge on the Home Office agreeing to grant Kulasekara a visa.

“He is a fantastic player, and he wants to come, “ said South this week. “But I’d say the chances are 50-50.”

Papplewick opened their new campaign in the Championship of the Bassetlaw League last Saturday with a losing draw at home to Clipstone Wellfare, who finished fourth last term.

They did well to bowl out Clipstone for 184 after the visitors’ openers, Justin Braithwaite (46, four fours and four sixes) and Matt Milns (29, four fours), had put on 63 for the first wicket.

Ross Fitz-John (two for 34 in 11 overs) made the breakthrough before further wickets fell to Jonathan Thrower (three for 31 in ten overs), Gareth Blinkhorn (three for 65 in nine) and captain Jim Rhodes (two for 32 in ten).

Thrower’s victims included Clipstone skipper Lee Wilson, caught by Blinkhorn for 18, while Rhodes’s victims included Josh Flowers, trapped lbw for 18.

In reply, Papplewick came up against seasoned former NPL bowler Jason Gorman, who followed up his valuable runs with the bat (29) by taking two for 28 in 15 fine overs and dislodging dangerman Fitz-John (25, four fours).

The locals recovered to a promising 90 for two before their run-chase was transformed by experienced Clipstone spinner Ian Woodall.

Taking six for 30 in 15 overs, Woodall ripped through the Papplewick batsmen, including top scorer Tom Bowers for 38 (four fours).

He also bowled dangerman Mark Nelson for 17 and Papplewick’s only other double-figures contributor, Blinkhorn, for a patient 15.

Bowers was sixth man out on 155, and despite the bonus of 34 extras, including 23 wides, the home side were left hanging on to a draw on 166 for nine at the death.

Tailenders Sam Stewart and Callum Birkin had to negotiate nine balls and five balls respectively in a nervy finale.

This Saturday, Papplewick make the difficult trip to South Yorkshire to face Anston, who were runners-up last season.

IN DIVISION Two of the Bassetlaw League, PAPPLEWICK AND LINBY’S scheduled first match of the 2014 season, away to Milton, was cancelled because the ground was unfit after a spell of heavy rain.

Both sides collect six points, which is a welcome bonus for Papplewick, who failed to win in a single match last season.

In a disastrous campaign, Papplewick lost 17 of their 20 fixtures and finished rock-bottom with a tally of only 83 points, condemning them to relegation.

They finished fully88 points behind their closest rivals in the table.