A little-known Sri Lankan leg-spinner, Ruwantha Kellapotha, on Thursday became Big Bash League (BBL) side Melbourne Renegades’ first overseas replacement player signing for this season.
The 31-year-old, who has played 20 First-Class and 12 List A games, has signed up with the Renegades for BBL-12, capping a remarkable rise through Victorian cricket ranks. Kellapotha last played First-Class cricket in Sri Lanka in 2013.
Over the past decade he has played club cricket in Melbourne — primarily in the Dandenong District Cricket Association.
“Last summer, he made the jump to Premier Cricket with Casey-South Melbourne, claiming 46 wickets across First XI and Super Slam matches to be the competition’s leading wicket-taker. He also represented Victoria’s 2nd XI,” said a Renegades statement.
“Those efforts earned him selection in the Melbourne Renegades Academy squad for last month’s Top End T20 Series in Darwin — with his performances there securing him a spot in the Renegades’ squad for BBL-12.”
“I’m really excited to be joining the Renegades,” Kellapotha said. “My journey to here has been a bit different. I played first-class cricket back in Sri Lanka, came to Melbourne in 2013 to play local cricket and then last year went to Premier Cricket.
“I’d achieved what I wanted to achieve in local cricket, so I wanted to see what I could do in Premier Cricket. Now I want to see what I can do at the highest level,” he added.
“I really appreciate this opportunity the Renegades have given me to be involved this year. It is a huge privilege and something I do not take lightly. This is going to be a great experience for me, playing with and against some of the best players in the world. I want to be a team player and whatever my team needs, I’ll give it 100 per cent.”
Kellapotha first came over to play club cricket in the 2013-14 season and has since made Melbourne his home. He has also featured in two seasons of the Melbourne Renegades Champions League tournament — including last summer — and represented the Melbourne Renegades in a multicultural T20 tournament in New South Wales in 2019, said the statement.
“We were impressed by what we saw from Ruwantha up in Darwin as part of the Renegades Academy and his performances in Premier Cricket last year showed he can match it with Victoria’s best,” Melbourne Renegades General Manager, James Rosengarten, said.
“He’s had a unique cricketing journey to get to this level. We’re confident he can come in and have an impact for us this season. We’ve got multiple overseas replacement player spots to work with to complement the players we selected in the Draft and their availability, and will announce some more additions in the lead-up to BBL-12.”
BBL-12 squad so far: Nic Maddinson (C), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Mackenzie Harvey, Akeal Hosein, Ruwantha Kellapotha, Liam Livingstone, Shaun Marsh, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Tom Rogers, Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Jon Wells.