Albury import Aaron Gillespie will represent Ireland A against Sri Lanka A in an upcoming series.
The 21-year-old all-rounder had previously played at the level below Test cricket against Scotland A but, given Sri Lanka’s international standing, he feels this is his greatest honour.
And it’s another step on his path to the ultimate honour, representing Ireland at Test level.
“Ever since we got Test match status, it made everyone’s dreams come true (for top Irish players), playing at the elite level,” he said
Gillespie played with CAW outfit Belvoir two years ago, but made the move to Albury when he returned at the end of October.
He started with a blistering 75 from only 39 balls in a last-over win against Wodonga Raiders in the round three T20 match.
“It was a great start, then I made a couple of low scores, but I’m striking the ball well,” he said.
Team-mates have been stunned by his timing of the ball at training, but he was only able to replicate the dynamic start with a superb 99 from 96 deliveries against East Albury last weekend.
He was run out, but took it philosophically.
“That’s just cricket, these things happen,” he said.
“At the end of the day we got the win, which was our main priority.
“It’s always nice to contribute, but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture.”
His team-mates will be delighted to hear that as they immediately know Gillespie is a team-first player.
The sweet-timing right-hander has hit seven centuries at open-age level.
Gillespie has been the catalyst for the club’s form surge after a winless first five rounds at 50-over level.
He top-scored with 32 and also claimed the most wickets (4-31) in the stunning upset of grand finalists North Albury and complemented leg-spinner Kade Brown’s 5-17 against the Crows with another four scalps.
Albury’s hopes of a hat-trick of wins, and possibly forcing its way into the top six, will rest on snaring another upset over the other grand finalists in Lavington on Saturday.
The Panthers have just the one loss and while Albury is at home, it would take a monumental effort to claim another top scalp.
Ironically the other team which has resurrected its season – New City – faces the association’s second toughest assignment in Wodonga.
The Phoenix had a winless opening month, but then beat non-finalists in Albury, Belvoir and Wodonga Raiders.
Another positive is that two of their guns – all-rounders Saurabh Bandekar and Liam Fitzsimmons – haven’t passed 25 in those games, so if Indian first-class player Bandekar, in particular, can regain his early touch, New City’s hopes will improve markedly.
Elsewhere, St Patrick’s and Tallangatta will both look to bounce back after losses to Wodonga and North Albury respectively.
North is home to a battling Belvoir, while East Albury, boasting only one win, desperately needs to find some form at home to Raiders.
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