Gunathilaka’s is a stubborn, even defiant, streak of individuality that he insists on maintaining in the face of what he calls “unnecessarily negative media coverage that focuses on personal life” in Sri Lanka.
“Some people are really jealous, I think. My lifestyle is different to some other Sri Lankan cricketers. But that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. A lot of people just report on what they see on social media, and the impression they give is not at all true.
“Some people think I’m cocky, but I’m not. If someone talks to me, they will understand. A lot of people in Sri Lanka think you should be in your room and go to bed early to be a good player. Even cultural things – like they expect you to get married, and if you’re not, they make assumptions about your character. What does that have to do with my career?
“If I’m at a bar, and I’m with my friends, I’m just there to relax. If people see me there, they’ll think I’m drinking and partying and I can’t play cricket. But look at the yo-yo test – I’m always in the top three in terms of fitness in the team. My lifestyle helps me relax.
“I don’t have a private life. They’re always saying I’m going clubbing and what not. I haven’t been out in Colombo for the last three months. When I want to go out, I go to Galle, to this specific bar to have a drink. It’s full of tourists, so I’m not going to be recognised. If I’m out in Colombo, everyone knows me, and at some point it gets annoying too. I can’t be myself then.”