HASANTHA Fernando is returning to coach Sudbury Cricket Club next season.
The Sri Lankan, who played in 14 East Anglian Premier League matches this summer, agreed to come back to the Friars Street club before returning home at the end of the season.
Fernando, who has had five different clubs over the past five seasons, wanted continuity and indicated a strong desire to return, and the club were delighted to sign him for another season.
That will mean an easier winter for club vice-chairman Louis Brooks, who over the past few years has spent much off-season time negotiating the coaching post with overseas players.
“He has done a good job for us,” said Brooks.
“He’s a good player and he bats well and bowls well. Last season was interrupted by his Twenty20 call-up for Sri Lanka, but next season he should have a clear run.”
Fernando scored 550 runs in the EAPL, and took 35 wickets, with his knock of 139 at local rivals Halstead proving the most memorable. He also played a number of Sunday games and scored a crucial century for the Seconds at Bury.
“He got better as he went on, and next year should be even better,” said Brooks.
“He also did an excellent coaching job, and his one-to-one coaching had rave reviews from the players.”
Reflecting on the 2011 season Brooks, a former club captain, said he felt it was one of the best in Sudbury’s history.
“We didn’t win any silverware, but the whole club had to step up to play at the highest level of cricket in the ECB pyramid.”
The club, in its first season in EAPL, won six games, drew seven and lost seven, with two fixtures lost to the weather, finishing seventh in the table.
“After week one (when Sudbury lost to Halstead) people thought we wouldn’t win a game, but it just goes to show what you can do with home-grown talent, great application, some great captaincy and good coaching,” said Brooks.
Sudbury fielded one of the youngest sides in the league.
“As the season went on they just improved,” said Brooks.
“The league improved them and they rose to the challenge.”
Darren Batch is expected to captain the side again next season, but there will be changes at the annual meeting with treasurer Michelle Jennings stepping down after 10 years service to the club. Also stepping down on November 14 are club secretary Al Younger and membership secretary Matt Pears.
The club’s annual dinner, at Sudbury’s Masonic Hall, is on February 18 when Robert Croft will be the guest speaker.
Glamorgan all-rounder Croft played 21 Tests and 50 ODIs for England.