Chanaka Welagedera - successor to Vaas
Chanaka Welagedera is the latest
arrival in Sri Lanka’s pace bowling lane. It is after a 1 1/2-year-long
lay off that the left-arm pace with strong likeness to former Sri Lanka
paceman Chaminda Vaas that young Welagedera aged 28 has at last arrived
with some impressive performances in the December 2009 Test and the ODI
series against India.
In fact, Welagedera would have made his presence felt long before
this, but for an ankle injury that kept him out of cricket for 1 1/2
years since his Test debut against England in a home series at Galle
during 2007-08. He impressed with a telling action and brisk pace with a
handful of wickets prising out some top order England batsmen. It
singled him out immediately as the successor to Chaminda Vaas whom
Welagedera was then quick to appreciate. He had imparted to him some
finer points in the pace bowling lane.
But the 2009 Indian tour was to be Welagedera’s platform to step back
into contention when he was selected from the sidelines to play in a
Test match replacing regular bowler Dhammika Prasad. He was quickly into
his rhythm once again accounting for some key Indian wickets including
that of master batsman Sachin Tendulkar. From there onwards Welagedera,
a product of St.
Thomas’ College, Matale, shouldering an injury hit Sri Lanka pace
bowling department performed remarkably being among the wickets in the
Test matches and ODI’s. Interestingly, Uda Walawwe Mahim Bandaralage
Chanaka Welagedera born on March 20, 1981 in Matale and representing
Moors SC and Wayamba, was a late starter to cricket. He learned to play
the game for his college at the age of 17, but made quick progress
performing in provincial matches.
When fine combed and brought to Colombo he was selected by Australian
fast bowling coach Daryl Foster to the Sri Lanka Academy headed by
former Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake in 2000. Not long
after Welagedera was sent to the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai to further
develop his skills.
Representing Moors SC in 2002 he bowled his club to the Premier
League title in 2002-03 claiming 34 wickets at an average of 24.14 in 13
matches. But his career best performance came the following season when
he claimed an outstanding nine wicket match haul to anchor his club to a
comprehensive 10-wicket win.
His strong point has been his penetrative inswing bowling that has
often trapped batsmen plumb leg before wicket. Welagedera toured Sharjah
with the Sri Lanka Academy and claimed seven wickets against the UAE
which earned him a place in the Sri Lanka A XI.
Having played in four Test matches he has claimed 10 wickets with
career best figures of 4 for 87 at an average of 47.30 and economy rate
of 3.90 and strike rate of 72.6.