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Unknown Perera stars for North

Shamal Perera put his hand up for representative selection with a stunning all-round effort for Wairarapa North in their 111-run victory over Wairarapa South in the inaugural ‘Seth Rance Bat’ game on Saturday.

The relative unknown has previously played for Lansdowne, but little was known about him otherwise. That was until Saturday when he rescued his side from a position of peril with a brilliant 92 and then backed it up by grabbing two wickets for 22 runs with his tidy off-spin.

North were teetering on the brink of posting a below-par score on the Hadlow artificial pitch, having lost 6-86 when Perera strode to the crease.

Perera and Hugo Wakeling [16] added some respectability with 37 for the seventh wicket, but it wasn’t until Perera was joined by George Deans that the complexity of the game changed.

The pair put on 111 before Perera fell eight runs short of what would have been a deserved century. Deans was undefeated on 34 when captain Robbie Anderson declared at 236–9.

Perera was a mixture of patience and aggression in his innings of 103 balls, hitting eight fours and four sixes. However, it was the partnership with Deans that most impressed Post Office Hotel Wairarapa coach Mark Childs.

“It was just really intelligent batting, good running between the wickets, hitting the bad ball and putting pressure on the South’s field,” said Childs, who knew nothing about Perera until the all-rounder fronted for representative training.

“He’s played for Lansdowne previously, and he turned up with a mate for rep training when I put the open invitation out to everyone.

“He’s a very useful cricketer, he’s also an off-spinner – he has an arm ball he bowls at about 110k – and he’s put his hand up [for rep selection].”

Left-arm spinner Quinn Childs was the best of the South bowlers, taking 2–17 from nine tight overs, while former Central Stag Seth Rance took another step up in his recovery from major shoulder surgery, bowling four overs for the cost of only 10 runs.

The South made a promising start to their innings, but once opener Quinn Childs was dismissed for 19 with the total at 28–1, they struggled for momentum and were dismissed for 145.

Wairarapa College all-rounder Samuel Payne was the pick of the North bowlers, claiming 3–30 with his lively medium pacers, while fellow seam bowler Patrick Wootton and off-spinner Perera both snared two wickets.

Mark Childs was satisfied with the hit out, saying the players
will take plenty out of the game.

“South were in the field for 60 plus overs, and the bowlers got some mileage under their belts, which was good.

“There are some encouraging signs. There was some average cricket, but there was some very good cricket throughout the day, and the guys are keen.”

The attention will now turn to the start of the premier club competition, the Bidwill Cup, on Saturday, before the first round of the Furlong Cup [zone two Hawke Cup elimination series] the after weekend away to Taranaki.

Mark Childs also confirmed that experienced top-order batter Robbie Anderson will captain Wairarapa over the season.

Brief Scores
Wairarapa North 236-9 decl. [Shamal Perera 92, George Deans 34no; James Church 2-55, Robbie Speers 2-72, Quinn Childs 2-17] beat Wairarapa South 145 [Samuel Payne 3-30, Patrick Wootton 2-27, Perera 2-22] by 111 runs.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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