Sydney Thunder has signed leg-spinner Jonathan Cook and wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Gilkes ahead of the upcoming KFC Big Bash League season, as the club extends its partnership with Raging Waters Sydney.
Cook and Gilkes both joined the club as Local Replacement Players in BBL|08 and their impressive performances have been recognised with two-year contracts.
Cook slotted well into the side’s spin attack, finishing with eight wickets from nine games, with best figures of 3/27.
The 29-year-old was first discovered through the NSW Premier Cricket competition, before impressing in Sydney Thunder’s development side during the pre-season Quin Series against the Hobart Hurricanes, Lahore Qalandars and Auckland Aces.
“I was hopeful of playing a small handful of games, but I didn’t really go into the competition with any expectations at all. I was happy enough to be there and be around the group, so to make my debut and to go on and have a season that I can be really happy with was a bonus,” Cook said.
“I can definitely get some confidence out of last season however I’m also aware there will be some new challenges. Most of the players I was playing against last season didn’t necessarily know me or know how I bowl but now they’re more aware of me.
“I didn’t expect to be in the Big Bash last year and certainly didn’t expect to be signing a two-year deal with Sydney Thunder now, but I couldn’t be happier.”
Gilkes played two games in BBL|08, including an outstanding debut where he scored a half century against the Perth Scorchers at Optus Stadium.
An impressive 12-months has also seen the 20-year-old score 508 runs at 46.00 in the Futures League competition, 604 runs at 50.33 in the NSW Premier League competition and earn a NSW Blues rookie contract.
“It’s very exciting for me, I’ve absolutely loved my time at the club. I got a bit of an opportunity to be around the squad last year but to be fully part of the squad this year is an amazing feeling,” Gilkes said.
“Last season gave me a taste of what it takes, and I think it’ll definitely hold me in good stead this season. More playing time is my goal, so I’ll be at training working as hard I can to put my hand up.”
Head Coach Shane Bond said the signing was reward for effort after the pair’s promising BBL|08 campaigns.
“Jono was the surprise packet of the season,” Bond said.
“He’s gone from full-time work and grade cricket, to a two-year contract with Sydney Thunder. He earnt his contract, he did an outstanding job and fitted in with our squad beautifully.
“He was very consistent, went for six runs an over and took wickets, and the beauty with this season is that he will carry that experience into this year.
“We always knew with Matt that he was a long-term prospect for us. He’s an incredibly exciting talent, and to have someone that can bat at the top of the order and keep makes a massive difference to your team.
“We’re most exciting about his batting. We knew he was a highly destructive player and he showed in his first game when he scored 50 against a very good attack in Perth, that showed how much talent he’s got.”
Raging Waters Sydney is Australia’s biggest waterpark, with over 30 rides, slides and attractions.
Sydney Thunder has partnered with Raging Waters Sydney to offer the first 3,000 Full Season Members a one-day single pass to the waterpark.
All 2-Game, Interstate and Supporter Members will receive a 20 per cent discount on single entry day tickets and season passes.
“Raging Waters Sydney are excited to offer Sydney Thunder Full Season Members the opportunity to experience all the fun and excitement of Australia’s biggest waterpark,” Tony Brancazio, General Manager, said.
Sydney Thunder is set to open its ninth KFC Big Bash League campaign against the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on 17 December, before playing its first game in Sydney on 2 January.
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