Coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe retires on a high : Thomians cap productive season, rewarded with tour to England | Sunday Observer

Coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe retires on a high : Thomians cap productive season, rewarded with tour to England

S. Thomas’ College cricket squad comprising Sithara Hapuhinna (captain), Shalin de Mel, Delon Peiris, Kalana Perera, Deon Fernando, Kishan Munasinghe, Thevin Eriyagama, Maneesha Rupasinghe, Dilmin Ratnayake, Mohamed Ishaq, Yohan Perera, Umayanga Suwaris, Semal Samarawickrame, Tehan Schafter, Shannon Fernando, Shamilka Wickrematilleke and Ravindu de Silva along with the caching staff Dilshan Mendis (assistant coach) Lasith Randunu (batting coach) K Nadarajah (fielding) Laxman De Zoysa (trainer) Chanaka Sanjeewa (physio) Priyantha Lokuwellage (masio)Yoahn Mendis (assistant MIC)and Thushara Cooray (Analyst and Scorer)

For the cricket team of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia the 2018-19 season has been the most rewarding probably in their history under Dinesh Kumarasinghe who sadly will be quitting his post after six years as head coach.

During this period Kumarasinghe, a respected and renowned cricket coach has done wonders with the school to turn their first eleven cricket team into a truly professional unit so that they are performing more like a first-class club side.

“S Thomas’ play real professional cricket, actually they train and play like a club team,” said Kumarasinghe. “I have managed to get them into that frame of mind to play as professionals.”

Without doubt Kumarasinghe attributes the success of the college first eleven team during the season to their professional approach. Not only is he in charge of the first eleven side but he is also the head coach of the junior teams as well as the curator and sports facility manager for all sports played by the school.

Coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe   

“When I took over as head coach in 2013 their cricket structure was pretty bad. They didn’t have a structure for juniors. I had a short term plan and a long term plan to develop cricket at S. Thomas’. Overall it was a five-year plan to develop and we achieved that target this year,” said Kumarasinghe proudly.

“Since I came, in the past six years we could have easily won about 3-4 Royal-Thomian matches if not for the wet weather. So this year we were really hungry for victory,” he said.

Finally, blessed by good weather the Thomians won the 140th Battle of the Blues beating Royal by seven wickets to end a 12-year drought in the series. In addition the Thomians also emerged champions in the All-Island under 19 one-day tournament after 17 years beating Richmond in the final.

Further, the first eleven team registered seven outright wins for the season, a feat not achieved since 2016 and were runners-up to St Joseph’s College in the under 19 all-island 2-day league tournament.

To cap a fine all-round season their under 17 cricketers emerged winners of the B Division one-day tournament. Statistically against Mahinda College, Galle the Thomians topped the 500-run mark for the first time in their 140-year-old history making 514-8 declared and to prove that achievement was no fluke they improved on it in the next game against Nalanda College by amassing 551-9 declared which remains their highest total to-date.

The total was largely made up by a record breaking fifth wicket partnership of 338 between Ravindu de Silva who scored a brilliant double century (213) and Umayanga Suwaris who made 155.

“My way of thinking of cricket at S. Thomas’ is that I don’t judge the standard of cricket from the Royal-Thomian but the cricket from the all-island one-day championship, reaching the final in the two-day tournament and becoming the best team all-island,” said Kumarasinghe.

As a reward for capping an outstanding season and also winning the Royal-Thomian Big Match, S Thomas’ first eleven cricket team will be touring the UK from May 31 where they will play three matches against county teams and three matches against school sides. They will also watch some of the World Cup matches which will be played during that period.

The tour according to Kumarasinghe is financed by the old boys of the school from UK and Colombo. The last occasion S Thomas’ toured the UK was in 1997 also when Kumarasinghe was their coach. The stand out players for S Thomas’ this season were fast bowling all-rounder Kalana Perera, captain and opening bat Sithara Hapuhinna, and batsmen Ravindu de Silva, Umayanga Suwaris and Shalin de Mel – all of whom the coach said were highly talented and of national potential. Two of his products who have gone onto gain national caps are Kalana Perera who represented the Sri Lanka under 19 team and Jeevan Mendis who has been included in the Sri Lanka World Cup squad to England. To ensure the cricketers continue in the game once they finished school Kumarasinghe said that he had formed a club called Old Thomians Cricket Club.

“I formed this club last year and we played in division III and the first year we won the title. We were promoted to division II and we have won all the matches and have one more match to go, if we win it we will be promoted to play in the Sara trophy next season,” said Kumarasinghe.

“We’ve also won the Colombo District Western Province all-island division II tournament. We have all the facilities - ground, indoor nets, gym, side practice wickets, a physiotherapist and we are financed by the old boys,” he said. Being the curator Kumarasinghe said that S Thomas’ can boast of having one of the best school grounds in the country. Although Kumarasinghe is retiring as coach he won’t be parting with S Thomas’. He will retain his position as curator and sports facility manager and on top of it will get another post.

“I can’t put that down officially because I have not got that appointment and it will come in another 2-3 months time. I have been telling the college administration from last year that I would want to retire as coach but they have been asking me to stay on for another year. I have continued and performed and I think this is best time when you are at your peak to retire,” said Kumarasinghe who bows out with a proud record.

“With my experience as coach for the past 30 years (21 of them with S Thomas’ in two stints) , if you see my past record no coach in the country has that kind of record and brought results. I have coached schools, clubs and was the national junior coach in Malaysia,” he said.

Listed high among his achievements are S Thomas’ College winning the Chappell brothers trophy in Australia last year. “We played against the top schools in Australia and it was not easy playing in different conditions and wickets,”he revealed.