Dimitri Mascarenhas at Prahran's Toorak Park. He has also played for England, King's XI Punja, Rajasthan Royals, Hampshire and Otago. Photo: Ari Hatzis
One minute, you’re in sunny Melbourne, revelling in the off-season warmth, and conspiring on Twitter to catch up for a beer with former England teammate Matt Prior on Twitter. The next minute? You’re playing for the Melbourne Stars against Prior’s Sydney Thunder in a must-win match at the MCG. As replacement for the Big Bash’s best fast bowler.
Dimitri Mascarenhas, 35, captain of Hampshire’s successful T20 squad, an IPL regular, and a veteran of 20 one-day internationals and 14 T20s for England, is the Stars’ last-minute replacement for Sri Lankan spearhead Lasith Malinga, pulled from tonight’s crucial fixture to prepare for Sri Lanka’s first 50-over clash with Australia at the same venue on Friday night.
The Stars need to win to assure themselves of a semi-final berth, which would enable controversial suspended captain Shane Warne another chance to play.
Mascarenhas had been playing his wares for Prahran in Premier League club cricket since the beginning of December, scoring 142 runs at 47.33, and taking six wickets at 16.33, but already well known to the Stars squad via star batsman David Hussey, a teammate at IPL side King's XI Punjab. He will be returning to that franchise in April, but Hussey will be hoping a Test call-up means he is needed for international duties.
The strongly-built all-rounder was born in Middlesex, to Sri Lankan parents, but raised in Perth, where he played alongside Hussey and Thunder captain Chris Rogers. Tonight, Rogers is an opponent. Next weekend, he could again be a teammate - they both play for Prahran. Such realignments are now the norm for cricketers playing high-level T20.
Dimitri's cricketing odyssey took him back to England in 1996, where he began a successful domestic career with Hampshire. His international debut was considered overdue when he finally played for England in June 2007. He made an impression with five sixes in an over from Indian spinner Yuvraj Singh at the Oval, and a ten-over spell of 3-23 at Lords.
A semi-regular in the England squad until late 2009, when he captained Hampshire to a one-day title and was called up to the IPL, he was curtailed by injury in 2010/11. One of cricket’s true journeymen, Mascarenhas has won titles with Hampshire, Otago, and Rajasthan Royals.
His journey looks likely to end in Melbourne – the Borrondara Review reports that he was married here last year and is expected to settle locally with his wife.
His unusual call-up is becoming typical of a breed of capable cricketers who are extending their careers by travelling the world plying their wares in T20 tournaments, and, unsurprisingly, Mascarenhas is keen to play on for at least another couple of years.