Kumar Dharmasena two-in-one cricketer
CRICKET: Reaching the top in two different segments in Test cricket
is no easy task, but the former Sri Lankan all-rounder Kumar Dharmasena
achieved both, due to perseverance coupled with loads of self
confidence. Being in the company of his contemporary players like
Australian Ricky Ponting, India's Sachin Tendulkar to name just two who
are still actively participating in the game would have given Dharmasena
a lot of confidence in performing his duties as an umpire. He
represented the country in 31 Tests and 141 ODIs from 1993 to 2004 and
chose cricket umpiring, besides his career at the Hatton National Bank
due to the undying passion for the game he loves so much.
Kumar Dharmasena - Sri Lanka's leading umpire
The Sunday Observer Sports was able to get at Kumar Dharmasena who
was busy like a bee making final arrangement to leave for the United
Kingdom to officiate in the 3rd Test England- West Indies and the ODIs.
He said that he was somewhat a proud Sri Lankan to take up umpiring and
to be in the Elite Panel of Umpires. He rated umpiring as a more
difficult job than playing and being a Test cricketer he enjoyed every
moment while standing. He also said that the modern day technology is an
asset to any umpire in the changing world of cricket. Dharmasena made
his Test umpiring debut in November, 2010 in a match against India and
New Zealand in Ahmedabad. He has so far stood in 10 Tests and 350 ODIs
and is hoping to reach the top one day as an umpire.
Dharmasena was a vital 'cog' in Arjuna Ranatunga's World Cup winning
machinery in 1996. He had the uncanny ability to rescue the side in a
crisis while batting or bowling. It was Sanath Jayasuriya, Dharmasena
and wicket-keeper triggered an Indian collapse while chasing a gettable
target in a semi final match at Eden Gardens, Calcutta. While India was
cruising along with Sachin Tendulkar in full cry, Jayasuriya got
Tendulkar stumped on the leg side by 'Kalu' and thereafter skipper
Mohammed Azharuddin was caught and bowled by Dharmasena and that put
India under terrific pressure.
After a very successful school cricket career at Nalanda College
where he won the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1989, and also
had the Best All-Rounder's and Best Bowler's prizes two coming his way,
it was just a matter of time for the budding all-rounder to have
patience for a 'call' for the national team. Dharmasena's dream of
gaining his Test 'cap' became a reality when he performed extremely well
in a three-day 'warm match' against the touring South Africans at the
Welagedera Stadium in 1993. He made his Test debut against a strong
South African outfit led by Keppler Wessels in the same year.
Keppler Wessels captained the visiting side, while late Hansie
Cronje, Darryl Cullinan, Allan Donald, Bret Shultz, Jonty Rhodes,
Richard Snell, Pat Symcox, Dave Richardson and Brian Mcmillan were some
of the South African players who toured the Island to play their
first-ever Test against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka was led by Arjuna Ranatunga and had four more players who
had won the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title,
namely opening batsman Roshan Mahanama, Sanath Jayasuriya batting in the
middle order, (Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer from St. Servatius',
Matara), Kumar Dharmasena and Muttiah Muralitharan, but Sri Lanka lost
the match badly by an innings and 208 runs. South Africa awe their
victory to a fine spell of left-arm pace bowling by Brett Schultz who
took five and four wickets each in the two innings. That was the last
seen of Brett Schultz who injured his ankle while playing in Sri Lanka
and he never bowled again for his country.
Talking about the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, Dharmasena
said that there is no doubt that it is a great contest for the Colombo
and Outstation schools as well, because it brings out good talent and
helps built the future teams. The contest is much look forward to and
the boys get due recognition.