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Topcroft's top new signing

PUBLISHED: 10:39 21 March 2008 | UPDATED: 07:17 01 August 2010

Topcroft Cricket Club have signed Sri Lankan professional Dammika Gunawardene as their overseas player/coach for the coming season.

It was originally planned for the popular South African Geoffrey Toyana to return this season, but an illness in his family put paid to that, as he announced last week that he would not be returning this year.

Topcroft Cricket Club have signed Sri Lankan professional Dammika Gunawardene as their overseas player/coach for the coming season.

It was originally planned for the popular South African Geoffrey Toyana to return this season, but an illness in his family put paid to that, as he announced last week that he would not be returning this year. Frantic negotiations then took place and Level Two coach Gunawardene was quickly signed up.

Last season the Sri Lankan played for Grimsby Cricket Club in the Lincolnshire Premier League, where he helped them finish runners-up.

Predominantly a batsman, he finished eighth-highest run scorer in the league with 600 runs.

The 28-year-old plays for Lankan Cricket Club back home and has played over 50 first-class games. The No 3 has been in good form recently and in his last match scored 111 runs, hitting 12 fours and three sixes.

Indoor net sessions are drawing to a close in a few weeks' time and things will then be moving outdoors.

The seniors will be training twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from April 15, while the juniors' sessions will be on Mondays, starting from April 21.

There is also a players' meeting on April 17 in the Topcroft pavilion, where representatives from the Umpires' Association will be in attendance, as will the membership secretary to collect subscriptions due.

Topcroft will be one of a record 1,180 clubs nationwide taking part in this year's NatWest Cricket Force on Saturday, April 5.

This encourages players, supporters, their friends and families to give something back to their local community cricket club by volunteering to undertake renovations to clubhouses and grounds.

Ground co-ordinator Chris Hancock is managing the event and is hopeful of a large turnout to get the ground ready for the new season.

The Topcroft Junior Festival dates have been announced and will run this year from Monday, August 25 to Thursday, August 28, with an U10 tournament on the Monday to start the week.

This will be one of the last events organised by the club's current junior co-ordinator Rodney Baldwin, who is stepping down from the role after a hugely successful five-year period.

Anyone interested in helping the club continue to be at the forefront of junior cricket in the county are asked to contact chairman Rod Warburton on 07711 640185.

For a third year in a row, Topcroft will be taking part in the Chance To Shine programme, again under the leadership of James Johnston.

Johnston and Gunawardene will deliver the coaching at Framlingham Earl High, Beccles and Bungay Middle and Poringland, Alpington, Ditchingham and Hempnall primary schools.

Chance To Shine is addressing the decline in competitive school cricket.

The single biggest sports development initiative ever undertaken in the UK, Chance To Shine will reach one-third of all schools in England and Wales over 10 years and engage two million young people.

The club have also arranged coaching days as part of the May half-term week on May 27, 28 and 29. Further details will be announced in mid-April.

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