In South Africa, Sri Lanka has created history by becoming the first even Asian team to conquer the frontier! Not even termed as under dogs, Sri Lanka’s relatively inexperienced side pulled off a miracle and outplayed mighty South Africa on their own soil.
As entire cricket fraternity is showering praise on the historical achievement, Cricket Age focused on those individuals, who transformed the team with their vision, commitment and courageous decisions.
Harin Fernando : In just two months, he has become the most popular and most visionary Sports Minister in Sri Lanka’s history! A young and dynamic Sports Minister, he has transformed Sri Lanka Cricket and has given a hope for many good things to come! Sri Lanka National Team was down and out, was divided in factions, as allrounder Thisara Perera’s leaked letter suggested. But, instead of being passive, as his predecessor used to do in though times, he took immediate action. He flied to Australia at his own expenses and sorted out differences. In Sri Lanka, he met all the senior players and iron out their clashes. He created an environment for the players to focus on their game and play as a team, for their country! When Chief selector Asantha De Mel and his colleagues dropped non-performing Dinesh Chandimal and appointed Dimuth Karunaratne as captain, he backed them! Most importantly, he took a courageous decision to remove Chandika Hathurusingha as one of the selector and it immediately paid off as Kusal Perera, whom the millions paid coach never considered a test batsman, played the greatest innings of all time! Mind you, he did all these single handedly, as there was no functioning cricket board at that moment!
Asantha De Mel : He is bold and courageous as chairman of selectors! A no-nonsense person, he immediately cut the wings of Dinesh Chandimal by removing him and appointed Dimuth Karunaratne as test captain, that too in most difficult overseas tour. Not only this, he brought as many as four debutants for the South Africa tests and gave preference to those fringe players, who were dominating domestic cricket. The courageous decision paid off big time, as those debutants Lasith Embuldenia and Oshada Fernando turned out as match winners on South African soil! For upcoming ODI series as well, he has selected young prodigies like Avishka Fernando, Kamindu Mendis! Before Asantha De Mel, Millions paid coach Chandika Hathurasingha was selecting only his preferred tried and tested players, but the chairman of selectors has now completely changed the scenario.
Michael De Zoysa : The Selectors were recommended by the cricket committee headed by Michael de Zoysa, who also recommended to remove coach Chandika Hathurasingha from selecting duties. Moreover, Michael De Zoysa Committee recommended Steve Rixon as fielding Coach and after a long time Sri Lanka’s fielding was as per with international standard against South Africa. It’s unfortunate that he and his committee was removed, but Sports Minister need to keep Michael De Zoysa in his scheme of things, as he could be a good edition in his mission to bring Sri Lanka Cricket back on track.
Samantha Dodanwela and Shane Fernando : Under the tournament committee, they organized the best domestic season in Sri Lanka cricket history. Starting with U23 tournament, they successfully conducted four day tournament and right now the t20 tournament is currently underway successfully. All the players, who have been included for the South Africa tour in all three formats : Oshada Fernando, Mohammed Shiraz, Lasith Embuldenia, Kamindu Mendis, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Perera have shone big time in these tournaments.
Avishka Gunawardene : The man who has given youngsters like Kusal Mendis, Dananjaya De Silva, Vishwa Fernando, Lasith Embuldenia, Kasun Rajitha to the national side. As A Team Coach, Avishka’s contribution is nothing less than a miracle. He is constantly feeding young talents to Sri Lanka National side. He has worked closely with Lasith Embuldenia since his school day’s at Royal College against South Africa entire cricket world witnessed the result! For the ODI series too, his young brigade of Avishka Fernando and Kamindu Mendis is ready to shine at global stage!
Chaminda Vaas : The most iconic fast bowler in Sri Lanka cricket history, Chaminda Vaas was instrumental in shaping Vishwa Fernando. When he was with the national team as bowling coach between 2013 to 2015, he took Vishwa Fernando to Dubai and trained. Later, in emerging fast bowling squad, he once again fast tracked Vishwa’s talent and brought him to the next level. After the South Africa series, Now Vishwa has become the talk of the town.