Tallangatta’s hopes of regaining the premiership have been dealt an enormous blow with star recruit Dilhara Lokuhettige unlikely to play again this season.
The Sri Lankan international dislocated and fractured his right ankle in three places in last Sunday’s US Open grand final.
The 36-year-old and Tallangatta coach Matt Armstrong remain in the US.
“The surgery was successful from what the doctors say and we hope to be back in Australia next week,” Armstrong said.
Lokuhettige was the star of the tournament, which is the US version of Australia’s Big Bash.
He had blasted 54 from 26 balls for the US All Stars against Al-Masafi, which had a number of Afghanistan’s World Cup players.
However when the All Stars were fielding, Lokuhettige attempted to take a catch on the boundary, jumping in the air, only to land in a hole where a sprinkler-head had been.
“It is disappointing for Dilhara, as he had some irons in the fire for the Caribbean Premier League and the Bangladesh Premier League and is now unlikely to get these contracts,” Armstrong said.
“Overall though, he is very pragmatic as his main aim was to play for his country and he’s achieved that.”
Lokuhettige’s medical expenses are covered by the tournament organisers, Cricket Council USA.
The loss of the all-rounder is naturally a major loss for Tallangatta, but it’s also a blow for CAW.
Lokuhettige was the headline act of the pre-season, leading a stack of overseas recruits.
Admittedly, he hasn’t performed as well as some of the recruits, taking 10 wickets at 16.8 with a best haul of 3-11.
He also sits 56th on the run-scorer’s list with 67 at 33.5, but he’s had few innings due to the success of the Bushies’ top order.
Lokuhettige proved his class though at the higher level in the US, which had a host of internationals, including Pakistan pairing Hasan Raza and Saeed Ajmal.
The best-case scenario is a three-month recovery, which would see him return for the finals.
However, it could be a career-ending injury, if the bones don’t knit properly.
Tallangatta snapped a premiership drought when English county all-rounder James Weighell starred in the 2014-15 decider, but lost the crown when Belvoir toppled Wodonga last season
The second-placed Tallangatta faces the winless New City on Saturday and the Phoenix will never have a better opportunity.