Asitha Fernando; from beach boy to history maker
by Rex Clementine
Arjuna Ranatunga’s mantra for turning the fortunes of a cricket team was backing outstation talents. Colombo ceased to own the exclusive rights for cricket and as a result, the game thrived. Three decades on the outstations are still producing match winners. There are still unearthed and untapped talents in far-off areas. One such created history last week by bowling Sri Lanka to a series win in Dhaka. From a beach boy of far off Katuneriya, Asitha Fernando went on to become the first Sri Lankan right-arm quick to claim a match bag of ten wickets.
A fishing village on the northwest coast, Katuneriya is situated between the towns of Chilaw and Negobmo. Asitha is the youngest in a family of three. His father is a fisherman and life as a child had many challenges for young Asitha with his parents unable to make ends meet.
Like for Australian all-rounder Keith Miller pressure in cricket was child’s play compared to the Japanese enemies whom he was fighting in World War II. Similarly, plenty of trips to rough seas with his dad had toughened up Asitha. The Bangladeshi batsmen trying to unsettle him by being aggressive weren’t scaring him up as he had seen scarier things.
Asitha was into football initially. Anton Costa, the cricket coach of St. Sebastian’s College, Katuneriya saw him playing softball cricket one day and called him up for training. What impressed him was Asitha’s smooth action.
The school was not playing in the top division but yet, when Sri Lanka Under-17, under the captaincy of Chamika Karunaratne toured England, Asitha was picked in the squad. He could bowl fast and he was a skidy type of bowler.
Soon, other schools were coming up with scholarships. S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia offered him a full scholarship whereby Asitha didn’t even have to pay for the lodging at the hostel. But he politely denied the offer as he loved his beach life. Moving to the city would be good for his cricket but would certainly put an end to fun-filled evenings and fishing trips to the sea.
Continuing his cricket in the rural Katuneriya without accepting the scholarship was a tough choice, but thankfully the school’s principal Mohan Wickremesinghe was also a cricket umpire and he found ways to support Asitha.
Asitha was part of the Sri Lanka Under-19 squad that played the Youth World Cup under the captaincy of Charith Asalanka and finished as the team’s highest wicket-taker. Former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was Chairman of Selectors at that point and soon brought him to the senior side and he was part of the squad as Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3-0.
One of Asitha’s specialties is his ability to bowl with the older ball and pick up wickets. Why he is able to do this cleverly is because, at school, new cricket balls were a luxury. All training sessions and practice games were played with older balls and Asitha has learned the art of bowling with old balls. He has mastered the art and now he’s lethal.
In the second Test when play stopped for lunch, Litton Das and Shakib Al Hasan had been involved in a 100-run partnership for the sixth wicket and the game heading for a draw. Then Asitha came up with a couple of quick wickets. Liton was brilliantly caught off his own bowling while Shakib gloved a short ball as Asitha exhibited his skill set in a session where Sri Lanka won the game.
The departure of Suranga Lakmal had caused some concern but Asitha with that performance where he created history has ensured that the future of Sri Lankan fast bowling is in safe hands. It’s been a remarkable journey from beach boy to history maker.
Sri Lanka confident World Cup qualifiers will go well
Having failed to qualify automatically for the World Cup later this year, Sri Lanka will be flying shortly to Zimbabwe to secure one of the two remaining slots for the sport’s showpiece event. But before that they have got to finish off the ODI series against Afghanistan and the former champions will be hoping that they will be able to clinch the series prior to flying off to Harare.
After losing the first ODI by six wickets, Sri Lanka bounced back to square the series with a 132-run win on Sunday. That was a match where they basically produced the perfect game and ticked all the boxes.
The top order gave a solid start before the middle order capitalized on it and the lower middle order finished things off in style scoring 109 runs from the last ten overs. Sri Lanka piled up 323 for six and Afghanistan were never in the hunt as they were shot out for 191.
“The last game was a perfect exhibition of our plans. Everything was executed well. Since we had wickets in hand we could take risks. We could double the score and that was the plan. That’s what we want to do,” Sri Lanka’s Batting Coach Naveed Nawaz told journalists.
Prior to this series, we had a free period and we worked a lot on players’ fitness at the High-Performance Center. During this series we brought in a dietician and planned our food patterns. There is also a psychologist around. This is all done in a bid to establish whatever we have lost in the last few years,” Nawaz added.
While Sri Lanka are fretting over World Cup qualifications, there’s no such trouble for Afghanistan. Their captain Hashmatullah Shahidi told journalists that they will be one of the dark horses during the World Cup.
“Our ratings are improving day by day and match by match. We believe that we can do something special in this World Cup. We will be one of the best teams in the World Cup. We are the dark horses. The Asian conditions will suit our spin bowlers and we are excited,” Hashmatullah Shahidi said.
For today’s series decider leg-spinner Rashid Khan is expected to make a comeback having missed the first two ODIs due to a back injury.
“He is obviously our star performer. We didn’t want to take any risks with him as we have the Asia Cup and the World Cup. We will assess his situation during training and make a call whether he is ready to feature in the final game. It will mean a lot to us to come here to Sri Lanka and beat them in their own backyard,” the Afghan captain said.
Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh reject PCB’s hybrid model?
Have Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh formally rejected the hybrid model proposed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the Asia Cup? That seems to be the latest on the imbroglio that has led to prolonged uncertainty over staging of the six-national continental championship. Sri Lanka is set to be the host.
According to the news coming in from Pakistan, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have written to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) formally rejecting the host PCB’s formula of conducting four games in Pakistan and rest of the matches in the UAE, thereby upholding the position of the BCCI which has been opposed to the model.
The development was revealed by Rashid Latif. “India and 3 countries, except Pakistan, rejected Hybrid model for Asia cup, All agreed on one venue due to logistics and financial issues. Might be a Zoom meeting soon or a general meeting in Dubai in a few days to finalise the matter (Sic),” the former Pakistan captain said in a Twitter post. When contacted by Cricbuzz, Latif confirmed the news and also guaranteed the authenticity of this update.
“I have information from independent sources that four countries have rejected the model and it is now a formality that the Asia Cup will be moved out of Pakistan,” Latif, a highly respected former captain, told cricbuzz on Tuesday morning. Asked if Pakistan would participate in the tournament, he said it should. “I feel Pakistan should and will.”
However, there was no official clarity on the topic until late in the evening yesterday.
Previously cricbuzz had reported, quoting an SLC official, that Sri Lanka were prepared to host the championship if allotted by the ACC.
The six-team Asia Cup, tentatively scheduled to start in the second week of September, is seen as a significant precursor to the World Cup in October-November. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Nepal are to take part in the 17-game championship.
Under 13 All Island Inter Schools Badminton from June 10
Under 13 All Island Inter Schools Badminton Tournament 2023 conducted by Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association with the support of Sri Chandananda Buddhist College Kandy will be held from June 10 to 12 at Municipal Indoor Stadium Kandy.
The championship will see ten events for both girls and boys being conducted in five Divisions namely, A, B, C, D, and E.
According to Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association, hundred school teams have confirmed their participation in the event.
Further details of the championship can be obtained from Malika Waduge (077-7494478), Secretary, Sri Lanka Schools Badminton Association.
March 12 Movement, MP Rajakaruna ask Prez to sack gold-smuggling MP
FAO to support Health Ministry to enhance food safety policy through EU-funded project
An indictment of SLPP leaders
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
#Sundayisland Sunday Island- 31 January- Headlines
Business6 days ago
‘ඇය සුරකින AIA’ celebrates one year of empowering half a million women to rise together
News6 days ago
AI demands immediate release of Natasha
Business6 days ago
DFCC Bank provides exclusive free access to DOC 990 for DFCC Aloka accountholders
Opinion7 days ago
Features5 days ago
Religious cauldron being stirred; filthy rich in abjectly poor country
Opinion5 days ago
Demystifying Buddhism: Need of the hour?
News3 days ago
Ayodhya Iddawela Perera poised to lead Sampath Bank as its next MD
Sports3 days ago
Time is running out for Sri Lanka