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Sudbury Cricket Club set to welcome Bloomfield’s Manelka De Silva and Central Hinds’ Emily Cunningham as overseas professionals for 2024 season





Sudbury Cricket Club are set to welcome a new and a familiar face as their overseas professional player-coaches across their men’s and women’s sections next month.

The 2023 campaign saw the Talbots bring in a female pro for the first time, and following the success of her stay last summer, New Zealand-based Central Hinds’ contracted player Emily Cunningham, who was born in Suffolk, will be returning to Friars Street.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan all-rounder Manelka De Silva will take over from South African Jordan Morris in leading the men’s first team in the East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) as well as coaching across the club and at sponsoring Gosfield School where he will be housed.

Sri Lankan all-rounder Manelka De Silva is joining Sudbury for the new season Picture: Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club
Sri Lankan all-rounder Manelka De Silva is joining Sudbury for the new season Picture: Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club

The 25-year-old seam bowling all-rounder, who bowls right arm but bats left handed, joins from Bloomfield Cricket & Athletic Club in Colombo and has 37 first-class matches and 39 List A to his name as well as being drafted for the Sri Lanka Premier League.

He is no stranger to England though, having had a summer based with a side in Lancashire as a 19-year-old and having toured the country in 2022 with Sri Lanka A.

And Sudbury chairman Louis Brooks revealed two of their former overseas professionals had given De Silva a glowing endorsement.

Emily Cunningham is returniung to play at Sudbury Cricket Club, where her father Steve Cunningham used to play in the 1980s and 90s Picture: Central Districts Cricket
Emily Cunningham is returniung to play at Sudbury Cricket Club, where her father Steve Cunningham used to play in the 1980s and 90s Picture: Central Districts Cricket

He said: "He’s a good regular first-class player who comes well recommended.

“Lasith (Lakshan) and Hasantha Fernando, who is a bit of a selector in Sri Lanka, both said Manelka is a really good guy.

"Also, we got good references from his other clubs who said he’s a nice person and really good guy to talk to and a keen coach and he’ll be doing a lot of coaching.

"He’s a tall guy so we’re excited about it and fingers crossed he should be with us April 13 or so in time for the start of the season.”

Sudbury Cricket Club chairman Louis Brooks as looking forward to the start of the 2024 season at Friars Street Picture: Mark Westley
Sudbury Cricket Club chairman Louis Brooks as looking forward to the start of the 2024 season at Friars Street Picture: Mark Westley

Cunningham, who will play for the women’s team on Fridays in the Beaumont Seymour Women’s T20 League as well as the men’s second team in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division Three and on Sundays for Woolpit’s women’s EAPL team again, is also expected to arrive at a similar time.

"She had a cracking year and was brilliant for the club and I think she had such a good time she wanted to come back,” Brooks said of the daughter of former Sudbury player Steve Cunningham.

De Silva is not the only player-coach signed to play in the EAPL side that will once again be captained by Paddy Sadler with Adam Jones, a top order batsmen, joining following a successful spell at East Bergholt.

“I think he got almost 1,000 runs in Division One of the Two Counties for East Bergholt last season and he’s Level 3 coach who will help the seniors with Manelka so we’re really excited about that,” said Brooks.

Jones is set to help fill the coaching void left by Adam Mansfield, who has been appointed head coach of Suffolk men’s team, as well as Ben Parker, whose work commitments means he is also concentrating on the playing side at the club this year.

Brooks is also looking forward to seeing the impact talented 16-year-old Bobby East, son of former Talbot Paul, after the Suffolk IIs player was brought over from Chippenham and been netting with the first team.

Only two of the club’s six captains have changed with Harmid Arshad set to lead the Sunday first team with Charlie Thomas taking over the T30 Sunday development side.

The season is set to get under way with the men’s first team’s friendly at Frinton-on-Sea on April 13 ahead of their EAPL opener at home to newly-promoted Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers on April 20.

Sadler’s side will be looking to improve on last season’s seventh-placed finish.

Meanwhile, the first match of 2024 at Friars Street is set to be the Sunday first team’s friendly with Colchester on April 14.