Aravinda the greatest Sri Lankan batsman – Sanath Kaluperuma | Sunday Observer

Aravinda the greatest Sri Lankan batsman – Sanath Kaluperuma

I had the good fortune to get around Sanath Kaluperuma the burly six foot test cricketer who is domiciled in Melbourne Australia, he has been there for the last 29 years.The venue of our meeting was at Austin Road,Seaford, Victoria, the residence of Prasanna de Silva who represented Ananda College during my era in the mid-sixties.Prasanna was a swing bowler, specialising with the one that finds the gap between the bat and the pad.

Sanath Mohan Silva Kaluperuma (born October 22, 1961, Colombo), was a former Sri Lankan cricketer who played in 4 Tests and 2 ODIs from 1984 to 1988.I can still recall Sanath as the 12th man of the Sri Lankan side against the New Zealenders, where Brendon Kuruppu stamped his class scoring a double hundred on his Test debut and creating many world records at the CCC grounds. His counterpart in that match was non other than Danny Morisson the famous cricket commentator (with a lot of gusto), at present commentating in the Sri Lanka Pakistan Test Series in the UAE.

Lionel and Nelson Mendis instilled discipline

Although Sanath was a good Test cricketer he was slightly overshadowed by his more illustrious brother Lalith,( off spin) who together with Ajith de Silva ( left arm leg spin) shone as spin twins in Sri Lanka’s formative years in International cricket.

Sanath’s under16 coaches were Nelson and late Lionel Mendis. When inquired about Nelson Mendis’ coaching , Sanath was emphatic that his guru, was a strict disciplinarian and was well versed in the rudiments of the game.

Sanath also believed that Nelson Mendis’ Army background has instilled these traits in him as a coach, and the foundation is essential for a budding cricketer to become a decent cricketer. The fundamental points are as follows;

1, How to greet the opposition.

2 How to be courteous to the umpires even if the decision was wrong.

3 How to dress neat and smart.

4 Table manners

5 Etiquettes

6 How to be punctual

As far as the punctuality was concerned Sanath recalls an interesting incident where he was late for practice at under 17 level and the usual form was to run two rounds as a punishment, and Sanath “no worries” started ambling along reaching half around when he was stopped on his tracks by a stentorian voice, the voice of Nelson Mendis, poor Sanath was dumbstruck and retreated towards his coach where he was ordered to stand behind the sight screen and he had to spend the rest of the day without moving a muscle.Sanath notes that this piece of severe punishment has stood him in good stead for the rest of his life.

Another trait in Lional Mendis was that the boys should learn how to use the fork and spoon while eating , so that they do not feel like “fish out of water” when they sit with other teams and dine. Etiquette was another aspect which drew Mendis’ attention adds Sanath.

According to Sanath, Nelson Mendis was not only a cricket coach but a life time coach, this was Sanath’s very own words. The only hitch in the armour of Nelson Mendis was that at times it was one way traffic, in the sense that orders were coming thick and fast from his gravel voice that the kids were very scared to talk to him, this was not because Mendis was not willing to offer a kind ear but due to his inborn overwhelming personality.

Talking about Lasith Malinga’s recent performance, Sanath pointed out that Malinga in his “hay days” used to bowl about 5 overs and give away only about 5 runs, but since of late he has dropped about 10 kilometers an hour in pace and under such circumstances, for people to expect him to perform at the same level as before is unfair because he still gives 100% concluded Sanath on Malinga’s ability.

Aravinda the greatest Sri Lankan batsman

Aravinda de Silva gets high plaudits from Sanath,because according to Sanath none, including Mahela or Sanga can master the rising ball which has been a bane to the present Test batsmen.Aravinda de Silva has a knack in facing “chin music”, he could either duck, or weave or get to a side and pull or hook with gay abandon and, not only those two leg side shots which enabled Aravinda to get a harvest of runs in his “hay days” but also his drives,and the cuts with savage ferocity which stamped him as the greatest Sri Lankan batsman ever to grace a local cricket field thus far.

Sanath insists that the recent debacles we had in the cricketing arena are not purely due to the players, he states that behind these players, there were layers and layers of back up staff to cater for all the needs of the players and he notes that they too should share the blame equally and should think back and find out where they went wrong without lamenting about below par performances which occurred in the recent past.

During the recent debacles we faced against India, the planning of an innings has gone awry and Sanath had some useful suggestions to make, he was of the view that our batsmen got carried away when they had a good opening partnership, say 100 for 1 in 8 overs, and the next man in trying to maintain that momentum goes “hell for leather” and gets out and the next man and the next follows the same pattern and finally ends up with something like 110 for 5 in 15 overs, this is a situation which is really uncalled for and Sanath says that there is something wrong somewhere, and planning an innings, for example how to play the next 10 overs and how many runs to get in that 10 overs and first and foremost not to lose wickets, thereafter when you reach that milestone without losing a wicket, one sees that the target which was out of reach at the start seems getable and in the end it looks like a piece of cake.

This type of planning was performed during a partnership Sanath had with Mahela Jayawardena during an old boys match, SanathKaluperuma who had no false airs about him sounded well during the interview.