RUMESH RATNAYAKE: SRI LANKAN GEM

What has been a personal highlight for you as an ACC Development Officer?

This entire job has been a highlight and I don’t really know how I can best shorten the description. A personal highlight would be the fact that it has given me confidence in the development area, in the educational area by doing courses. It has also taught me to be very patient as we come across a lot of challenges in this job.

At China’s inaugural Level I coaching course, October 2005

China in itself is a huge task. I have not only been involved in the coaching side but the educational as well having worked on courses with Cricket Australia and it not only taught me about running the courses but preparing them as well. It has been an amazing experience and I am very fortunate it has happened to me.

How long do you think it will be before the less-developed nations can compete against the ODI-playing nations?

We work on a day-to-day basis and we obviously would love to see it happening in the near future. But there are certain things we need to look at as well as the challenges of the task. If we take the UAE, the question would be what we would do to further improve their cricket. Do we need to improve their structure? They do have a good structure but they need to be playing at a higher level. We would like to have at least two teams in the 2011 World Cup and so we need to be doing things very specifically. The most probable teams up for the challenge would be the UAE, Afghanistan and Nepal. The UAE because they possess the strongest overall team, Afghanistan and Nepal simply because they border Pakistan and India respectively and are exposed to a lot more cricket. Therefore due to this there is a lot of interest and cricket is in their blood.

Over the years, what do you feel has changed most in the game?

There have been huge changes. If I were to say, “This is how I played and all of you should play like I did”, it would be a very old-fashioned way of approaching today’s game. Even at my time, we knew the game had changed. I stopped in 1993, 15 years ago, and the game has grown in all aspects; batting, bowling and fielding. Some people would not agree about the batting but at that time we had only a certain number of people who could hit and some players only had selected shots. Now physiologically we have gotten to learn that anybody can be taught to enhance a skill he has. There are so many skill drills that can be done now to enhance a player’s ability.

Coach of Asia at the 2005 Afro-Asia Cup

Today, if a fielder dives and stops a ball but there is a run, it is now a mis-field but in my time people would say ‘well stopped’. The mentality of the game plus the experts’ scrutiny has helped push the game to a higher level. Even the free-hit rule is a fabulous idea. I was not a supporter of it at first but now we can see its results. It has stopped the no-ball and has made the game more interesting. Bowling no-balls is not done deliberately, it is a mindset and this rule has shown that it can be eradicated.

“At least two teams in the 2011 World Cup.”

Science, too, has made a huge difference. The biomechanical side, the scientific side, the body movement of a player – this inclusion of sports medicine has improved the game and taken it to the next level.

Another thing of course is the media attention. There are hardly any still pictures of me from my playing days around and I never thought to ask anybody to take any and save them for me. It would be so nice if my young daughters now could see me from then. Thanks to some fans there is a little YouTube footage of me bowling. Even on the ACC website, everyone of our non-Test playing members - schoolboys to seniors - who play for their country have a permanent record of their achievements. It’s a great thing to have because any player can now appreciate the place they have in international cricket and show their friends and families and employers. With the world watching you, you try just that bit harder!

Next Page | “The mindset can be sorted out.”