Romesh Kaluwitharana, 37, was Sri Lanka’s wicket-keeper batsman the year they won the World Cup. He played 49 Tests and 189 ODIs from 1992 to 2004. Renowned for the audacity of his shot-making, together with opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya, he revolutionised one-day batting at the start of an innings. Since retirement he has coached Colts C.C. in Sri Lanka while conducting a career as an insurance executive. He was appointed by Sri Lanka Cricket to be a member of the 2006 ACC Committee to Evaluate China.
“Some people are born with that talent and if these few are coached well they will definitely represent their country.”
Why and how did you start playing cricket?
My father passed away when I was just five, unfortunately and my mother let me play sports to make up for that loss, I think. The game came naturally to me early on and even with a tough practise system at school, I always enjoyed playing. I loved batting, with wicket-keeping almost as much.
How would you rate schools coaching in Sri Lanka?
Well, the emphasis is on being correct and we turn out some fabulous players. It really helps now also that cricket is spreading outside of Colombo and into all social areas. One thing that stops a lot of talent progressing though, is that the mental toughness is not always there.
It’s quite likely because the overall level of competition isn’t that high. When I started playing cricket was mainly a social game, then there came a stronger league and cup system but the overall talent wasn’t there everywhere so playing domestic cricket didn’t really bring out the best in you.
And yet the system created you, Roy Dias, Duleep Mendis, Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva.
They were special players who would have done well anywhere, anytime. Like Sanath,
Mahela, Murali and Sanga now but you never know when the next one may turn up and the thing we have to do in Sri Lanka is find that talent and after we find it, make sure it becomes the best it can be.
Australia does that and they have a small population like ours but no one is born a great cricketer. Maybe they have the potential but then it is up to the coaches and environment to make everyone play great cricket. Once you reach international level it’s very tough. Everyone plays hard and tries to win. And you have to be tough in mind and body. Plus you have to be able to watch and listen and learn
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