Rumesh Ratnayake is an absolute legend. One of the players who put Sri Lanka on the map in the 1980s, he was renowned for his whole-hearted pace-bowling and big-hearted character. At his peak he was able to generate terrific bounce and pace and had the priceless ability to move the ball both ways in the air and off the pitch. His figures, good as they are, don’t do him justice because he was often playing with injuries and playing for a team that was only just beginning to find its feet at international level. If he was playing today he’d undoubtedly be one of the world’s leading all-rounders.

Since retiring as a player in 1993 he has been a national fast-bowling coach for Sri Lanka as well as coach of his old club Nondescripts in Colombo. He is a Level III certified coach and has been a Development Officer of the Asian Cricket Council since August 2001.

“It has been 16 years and I still can't make it back into the team!”

Since you first became an ACC Development Officer, what progress has there been in Asian cricket?

I can speak for my particular countries – Nepal, Hong Kong, Maldives, China, Bahrain, Malaysia and also Bhutan, which is no longer mine now. If you take these countries, they had a very basic talent and structure. Hong Kong, obviously had a structure over the past 100 years, much like Singapore. Nepal had talent but they did not know how to use that talent. But now they have a good structure and a good coach in Roy Dias and suddenly we saw them come through. What the ACC did was bring in the age-groups and so the schoolboys were involved and this is the actual development and now there are thousands playing in Nepal.

Four of the five ACC Development Officers (from l to r): Iqbal Sikander, Rumesh Ratnayake, Vece Paes and Roger Binny.

It is same with the likes of the Maldives. They have the minimal ground requirements, no grass and little land. All of these countries will be thankful to the ACC. China, was a country that hardly knew of the game. I was first there in 2003 and there was cricket being played only by the expatriates on a small scale in Shanghai and Beijing. If you take the Chinese team, most of us are impressed with them but we need to focus and plan as to what we should do for the future so that it will be enhanced further and faster. We also need to have patience and make careful decisions.

Coaching the coaches in Guangzhou

What is the development process?

It’s coaching, it’s motivating, it’s monitoring.  It’s done by all of us, Roger, Iqbal, Aminul and Doc Paes at  the ACC, along with the Development Manager and Chief Executive and ICC. We're just the public face of a very active process that goes on all over the countries, starting with a school-teacher or parent who takes some children for practices, to the umpires and groundsmen and coaches and administrators everywhere. Our job as development officers is to guide, monitor and improve cricket activity in our respective countries. We work with youngsters, seniors and national coaches.

“We need to focus and plan.”

I sometimes feel we should do a lot more, and the countries don’t always get the best out of us but we are all learning as we go along. The countries that are most serious and most dedicated will show the most improvement in the years to come. Now there is more money coming into development from the ICC and it is performance-related so the most successful countries will have more money to put into their cricket.

Running through batting, bowling and fielding techniques in Nepal

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