Cricket: Spofforth spell the making of Mallorca ace Sascha

AIMING HIGH: Spanish youngster Sascha Goonesekera has targeted a place in the Sri Lankan national team after a month-long spell playing for Nidderdale League side Spofforth.

AIMING HIGH: Spanish youngster Sascha Goonesekera has targeted a place in the Sri Lankan national team after a month-long spell playing for Nidderdale League side Spofforth.

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Picture perfect Yorkshire village Spofforth, the Sri Lankan national cricket team and the sunny holiday island of Mallorca – difficult to imagine any scenario linking all three.

Step forward Spanish cricketing ace Sascha Goonesekera – the Mallorca Cricket Club ace having relished his one-month spell with Spofforth CC and now hoping to be the next cricket sensation for Sri Lanka – the country of his dad Roshan’s birth.

The Spanish island of Mallorca is famed for its sunny beaches and popularity with the Brits and when it comes to sport think football – Real Mallorca – currently managed by Michael Laudrup.

The country’s second most famous sport is trotting – a form of horse-racing – and cricket would be well down the list but in 12-year-old bowling ace Goonesekera the Balearic island may have just found a cricketing star.

Hooked

The youngster with a Sri Lankan father has been hooked on the game ever since first watching the sport aged three but with only one established cricket club in Mallorca, opportunities to develop his game have been few and far between.

Until now, and Spofforth Cricket Club of the Nidderdale League – a club who have just finished a four-week association with Goonesekera initiated when ex-pat journalist Wendy Peters, herself formerly of Yorkshire, used her contacts to gain the youngster the cricketing experience he yearned for.

Goonesekera flew back home on Thursday but it was an experience he thrived on and an experience the youngster hopes can one day propel him into the Sri Lankan national team.

The only trouble with his stay has been the weather!

Speaking before his final game for Spofforth this week, the remarkably articulate Goonesekera enthused: “I have been here for three weeks and it has been fun although the weather hasn’t been according to plan!

“I was hoping it would be like our weather which is brilliant in summer but it’s been okay and the weather has not been too horrible.

“But I wasn’t here for the weather or on holiday, I was just here to play some cricket and the weather has been okay for that.

“You get what you get.”

And what Spofforth got was a hugely popular and likeable young cricketer – who has big ambitions to match his personality.

Asked what he would like to achieve in the game, Goonesekera replied: “What I’d love to do is come back here and if I could maybe play for Sri Lanka when I get older – maybe even captain them.

“That would be the biggest thing for me but I’m happy, I’m still young and I still have my life in front of me so I don’t have to think just about cricket.

“But it would be nice if that happens, if I could play for Sri Lanka!”

How that would put the tiny village of Spofforth on the world map – not to mention Harrogate Grammar School where Goonesekera has been attending for the past month, the youngster having stayed with Spofforth’s chairman of junior cricket Simon Giddings whose son attends the same school. Away from the cricket field, Goonesekera admits attending an English school has been a memorable experience in its own right – the only drawback being the requirement to wear a uniform!

“The school have been very nice and the teachers and everybody have all been very helpful,” he said. “The school is of course very different to my school and we don’t have uniforms so I had to get used to them!

“We have a lot of things different, we have different class hours, different lunch times and they have a much bigger school than we do.

“It has been a bit weird walking around a huge school like Harrogate Grammar and I don’t know how they don’t all get lost!”

Still, now he’s back home, yet the youngster admitted to having mixed feelings about returning to his Mallorcan town of Arta.

“I’m going to miss everybody here but I am looking forward to be being back home,” he said.

“I’ll also be happy to be back in the sun and to go to the beach and relax with my mates – basically doing what I do in the summer holidays.

“We get three months summer holidays back home.”

Three months’ holiday but one month with Spofforth that he’ll never forget.

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