Will Thisara Perera's promise as an all-rounder be fulfilled?
Perera needs to combat the short ball more effectively
By Rex Clementine | June 3, 2012
On Friday, at Hambantota, the burly Thisara Perera made his comeback to the national side having missed the Asia Cup due to injury and there were runs, wickets and an outstanding catch to his credit, as Sri Lanka defended a modest target of 133 to go one-up in the two-match series.
Just as Perera did on his debut, at the age of 20 in Kolkata, smashing 31 runs off 14 balls, he has come up with some memorable cameos over the last three years. His unbeaten 21 off nine balls, with three fours and a six, in the World Cup final last year in Mumbai and the whirlwind 44 ball unbeaten 69 in Kimberley, where he hit five massive sixes to help Sri Lanka win the fourth ODI against South Africa are particularly noteworthy. Consistency, however, has been a problem for Perera.
Others in the same calibre, such as Suresh Perera and Nuwan Zoysa, were tipped to impress when they emerged in the international scene but they soon faded away, having not fulfilled their early promise.
Perera’s family hail from Ekala and his mother is a science teacher at St. Anthony’s Convent in Mutwal. Like Zoysa and Suresh Perera, Thisara Perera is more of a bowler than a batsman but a better batsman.
With Angelo Mathews prone to injuries and the question of whether he can take up the challenge of bowling 10 overs in an ODI hovering, Perera has an opportunity to fill in those shoes which Sri Lanka have been desperately trying to fill.
When Chaminda Vaas started his cricket career, the batting technique he possessed made many believe he will be the player who will shoulder the burdens of Sri Lankan cricket like an Ian Botham or an Imran Khan. While he performed his duties as a bowler to perfection, he hardly made the impact that was expected of him as a batsman. Although he ended up with a Test century, 13 fifties and an average touching 25; by his own admission he underachieved as a batsman.
Perera cannot currently be compared to Vaas, who is Sri Lanka's greatest fast bowler, but if he can achieve half of what Vaas did with the ball he would finish with a successful career.
Having started young, you can only expect Perera, currently 23, to get better. His forte is not grafting an innings, but coming in during the death overs and smashing some meaty blows to give the team an extra 25 to 30 runs, which would make the difference in the end in the limited-over formats.
Obviously, there is still a lot Perera needs to work on and high on that list will be combating the short ball. It only took a couple of overs for James Anderson to work out Perera had a serious problem in facing the short ball last summer in his Test debut in Cardiff. From there on, England peppered him with short balls and eventually Perera was dropped. One year on, he seems to be better prepared for the shorter ball but there still remains work to be done.
© Rex Clementine/The Island