The immensely talented Chamara Kapugedera shares his views on recent criticism over his selection and discusses the possibility of him moving up the batting order
April 6, 2012
Chamara Kapugedera wants a chance to move up the batting order. © AFP/Lakruwan WANNIARACHCHI
In recent times, you have been drafted into the squad as last-minute cover for injured players but the selectors fail to regularly include you in the ODI squad. On occasions, you have even been flown in from Sri Lanka on short notice to play crucial matches in tournaments overseas and you’re expected to perform immediately. How has this impacted you?
CK: Good question. I guess successive selectors, coaches and more importantly captains possibly considered me a team man thats perhaps why they call on me when they need me. That’s my job like any other professional one.
As for not being in the squad as a regular, it’s important that the balance of the side remains the priority. If my inclusion does not fit the bill, then for the sake of Sri Lankan cricket that should be the call taken by the management. In my book, no player is bigger than the national cause and I am quite happy with that.
Age is on my side and with all these experienced, brilliant players in the ODI squad you need to play the waiting game with regards to your future.
Let me also remind you that playing Test cricket is every player’s dream, just as it’s my dream too. For your information, I do possess a decent Test average of close to 35.00.
Your critics claim you have been afforded many opportunities but you have failed to make use of them. What would you say in response to your critics?
CK: Critics are an absolute necessity to add colour and value to the game and they keep us on our toes. I will accept that analysis. But in my defence, I have had good days with the bat as well. Unfortunately, with so much of cricket being played there are many moments where good performances get lost in the midst of it all. This is another beauty of this lovely game. You could almost get a big hundred in an ODI, under trying circumstances, and believe you have done enough to take your team home. But later in the game a six in the last ball of an innings, when your opponents are batting second, can ruin that glory.
I once did it in a T20 against India in the West Indies and should I remind you it happened to us before that in the West Indies in an ODI. But you know, as much as I do, in cricket people forget your successes and good deeds much sooner than they forget your failures and bad deeds.
Having said that, I do understand that age-old adage “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Let me assure you that I am working hard on being that good chef who will churn out great cakes or puddings with less cholesterol and headaches. [He laughs.]
You made your international debut in 2006 when you were just 18. In hindsight, do you feel the policy of selecting players at such an early age, with very little first-class experience under their belts, is wise?
CK: Yes, why not? Look at all the brilliant young players in the Sri Lankan circuit today. What about Pakistan and Australia? How about the one-and-only Sachin Tendulkar or my idols Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva? That’s not to say that all 18 year-olds will end up like them. But if you can get 25-percent of such youngsters to do well that will be good for any cricket playing nation.
Which position in the Sri Lankan limited-over batting line-up do you think you are best suited to bat at?
CK: Number four or five is preferred but it depends on the team’s needs. I have batted between number four and number nine. Be that as it may, if the need is there to open the innings I will gladly do it. Sri Lanka’s needs are always my priority.
You opened batting and batted at number three for your alma mater Dharmaraja College in Kandy; there is a school of thought that you should be allowed to open batting in T20s and ODIs for Sri Lanka. How do you feel about that?
CK: The thought has crossed my mind for sure. If the need be, why not open for Sri Lanka?
How would you like to see the selectors approach your career? In countries like Australia, it is not uncommon for selectors to discuss with players about their future. Have our selectors spoken to you about their plans for you?
CK: Yes. The selectors, coaches, captains and all my teammates have been very supportive. The senior players are more like older brothers. How many players can say they have shared a dressing room with legends like Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and that unbelievable player Sanath Jayasuriya? Together with the management, the seniors also work with young players to help us achieve our goals.
You scored a half-century in your last ODI and you were the third highest run-scorer in the premier T20 tournament. In addition, you made two hundreds in the domestic first-class tournament. Do you feel confident that you will be selected in the ODI and T20 squads for Sri Lanka’s next assignment?
CK: No. Yesterday’s performances are forgotten the following morning. The next day is a new day, a new challenge and will be so until you hang up your boots. If you don’t keep yourself in good nick you can be out of favour quickly. You have got to keep working at your game.
Chamara Kapugedera was talking to Island Cricket’s Hilal Suhaib.
© Island Cricket