There was a time (161 BC) when the whole of Sri Lanka was in anarchy. Where most parts of the country was controlled by foreign invaders. At that time, there weren’t any Kings who tried to challenge these invaders. Generally, whenever Sri Lanka was in trouble, someone would come from Ruhuna (Down South) to protect the country. This time it was Prince Gemunu.
He defeated the invaders and protected the country. After the war, he served the country with great distinction. As an example, he created the Ruwanwelisaya, one of the stupas in Sri Lanka. The stupa is one of the world’s tallest monuments.
In my opinion, the current Sri Lankan batting is in a crisis. Yes, they have Sangakkara and Mahela, but they are 33 years old. After this World Cup they have to make a decision about their future (especially Mahela).
Sri Lanka don’t have many good batsmen between the age of 25-30. Herein lies the problem. If they did, these batsmen can take responsibility after Sangakkara & Mahela. But, Sri Lanka have good young prospects; Dinesh Chandimal is one of them.
I first saw him in 2008, when he played for Ananda College, in a school tournament which was organized by Wesley College. Initially, I was amazed by his keeping abilities. It was of professional quality at that time. Secondly, he attracted my mind with his glamorous batting. He was very attacking.
His team was under pressure. However, if my memory is correct, he lost partners and they duly lost the match. But Chandimal had won my heart. After this, I searched for him.
I found that he was the vice captain of Sri Lanka U-19 team and the captain of the Ananda College. His family was a victim of 2004 tsunami disaster. He was in the Dharmashoka College, Ambalangoda. His efforts to enter school Under-13 team as an off spinner fell tragically futile because of his action.
As he stated:
"My first experience trying to enter Dharmasoka Under-14 team was a bitter one. I was bowling spin and was ruled no balled for chucking in practice matches. Asoka Kumara was my coach then and he advised me to start keeping wickets for the team. That paid dividends and I was safe behind wickets. My school coach Viraj Chaminda also guided me and I was performing well soon.
"I also was fortunate to be coached by Kusum Nandasiri, the first-XI coach of Dharmasoka. I was playing first-XI from a very young age. But I was not a batsman then. It was Nandasiri who encourage me to play in the top of the order. The first-XI batting experience then helped me to do well in the Under-15 tournament later. I lost my fears and started scoring freely. I amassed nearly 500 runs in seven matches in the 2004/05 season." says Chandimal.
His outstanding performances that season in the Under-15 tournament helped him find a place in the Ananda College team. From the time he was included in the side, he has developed into a very fine cricketer. However, while Chandimal’s has grown from strength to strength, his family has undergone numerous hardships in the tsunami aftermath . Chandimal’s house was swept away by the tsunami and the disaster also affected his father’s livelihood. Chandimal is the eldest son in a family which has five children.
Thenceforth, I became a big fan of Dinesh Chandimal. After few months he appointed as the Sri Lanka under 19 captain. He was the school boy cricketer of the year – 2009.
In 2009, he had a debut against an International side in New Zealand during a tour match. He scored a fine 64 in that match. In next match he scored a century against Kiwi side which had a bowling attack with Vettori, Martin, Oram & Patel. At present he averages 54 in first class cricket. Recently he made his highest score 244, (a partnership of 369 with another young prospect Dimuth Karunarathna) in a game against South Africa – A.
He is playing for NCC in domestic cricket,which the Sri Lankan captain Sangakkara also plays. Rightly Sangakkara has given up his wicket keeping for this youngster. I believe this young boy from Ruhuna can solve the batting crisis of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka badly needed this guy. His aggressive batting and impressive wicket keeping can make him a Right Hand version of Gilly. And hope this guy can build a Ruwanwelisaya in cricket world.
- Special Thank to great Tim Holt who rectified my few mistakes.