Geeth Kumara will be returning to Keswick Cricket Club as professional for the 2021 season, and for the popular Sri Lankan this will be his ninth year at the award-winning club.
His contract for 2020 had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and although the cricket season did not get under way until late July in an amended format, Keswick first XI, under the captaincy of James McGown, won the county title, topping their group and then defeating Furness in the T20 final in early September.
The club is now looking to build on that success and, in view of the announcement this week of a vaccine breakthrough, are optimistic that a full cricket season can begin in April, 2021, once the UK’s sporting and social life hopefully returns to normal, writes Keith Richardson.
Keswick are delighted to welcome Kumara, now 32, back to the Lakeland town where he is now considered part of the community.
He is also highly regarded throughout the Cumbria Cricket League (CCL) and its Premier Division in which Keswick compete.
It remains a club ambition to win the Premier Division of the CCL and McGown is confident Kumara can play a massive part in the attempt to achieve that goal.
“Geeth is an exceptional talent,” McGown said, “consistently scoring runs and taking wickets.
“But for me one of the biggest assets he brings to our club is his knowledge and experience of the game and what to do in specific scenarios.
“This has been invaluable and I have no doubt Geeth’s input, on and off the field, will be massive for our club in 2021.
“We are developing a young, talented squad, that was plain to see last season, and the addition of Geeth will put us in a really strong position to compete.”
This was a sentiment echoed by Keswick head coach, Mark Cameron, who added: “The signing of Geeth is a key factor in the development of the primarily young squad we have at Keswick.
“He brings many years of top-flight experience in Sri Lanka, a sound knowledge of the conditions here in Cumbria and is one of the most reliable of professionals.
“He has the ability to change a game on his own and my hope is he can use these attributes to take our young players to a position of challenging for silverware as well as developing their individual games.
“This, combined with the energy and enthusiasm of our captain James McGown and the input of older heads Glen Weightman, Dan Gaskell and Ben Sharp will, I believe, make Keswick CC highly competitive in 2021.
“The work that Geeth does with our three junior teams is vital to our effort as a club.”
Speaking from his home in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, Kumara said he was “extremely happy” to sign for the club, looking forward immensely to playing again at Fitz Park and to meeting up with his team-mates.
“I’m confident that if we can put our strongest team on the pitch we will achieve a lot,” he said. “We have a talented squad of young players and can definitely finish in the top three in the league.”
The professional has won the Premier Division batting averages five times, including three years in succession.
But he has yet to achieve a personal double of 1,000 league runs and 100 wickets in a season.
The signing of Kumara comes as the club is about to announce a new principal sponsor, the financial advice company O’Reilly Wealth Management, based in Penrith, which has entered a three-year deal.
After last season’s success, the club is on a high and, asked what he would like to see at Keswick during 2021, skipper McGown said: “I would just love to see the good work continue.
“The effort that everybody puts in around the club is outstanding and really makes for a fantastic environment both on and off the field.
“This was evident in the summer with the community support there was at home matches. The buzz around the place was exciting.”