Karunaratne gets best birthday gift as Sri Lanka hides coach | Sunday Observer

Karunaratne gets best birthday gift as Sri Lanka hides coach

21 April, 2019

Sri Lankans breathed a sigh of relief as good-guy Dimuth Karunaratne was named their captain for next month’s World Cup in England bringing to an end speculation that any other player for the top job at a crucial juncture would have spelt further disaster for a team reeling from recent humiliation.

But as Karunaratne, who celebrates his 30th birthday today, spends the next few weeks pondering team strategy Sri Lanka Cricket chiefs decided against exposing its re-organised or scaled down coach Chandika Hathurusinha either fearing the repair work could be brought down or the wrong signals sent.

With little World Cup experience Karunaratne is being looked at as the best bet in a nation of 21 million people who could give the country a cultured leadership with the courage to be the first on the field and the last to leave.

“We were not playing as a team but Dimuth (Karunaratne) has shown it in South Africa that he is able to get the team playing together as a unit. The players are with him,” declared chief selector Ashantha de Del.

De Mel described the squad given to Karunaratne in three words, “form, experience and balance” with utility players Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeewan Mendis and Milinda Siriwardena giving the team what he called a “three dimensional option”.

Karunaratne shot to overwhelming fame almost overnight when he revived a crestfallen team from thrashings in Australia and New Zealand to a band of warriors on the last-leg tour of South Africa in February where for the first time a Test series win was posted.

Until then not much was known about Karunaratne who first learnt his cricket at a little known school called Susamayawardena College in Borella, Colombo and moved on to graduate at St. Joseph’s College to eventually become a fully fledged Sri Lankan ambassador.

He replaces Lasith Malinga who at one time was a solid spearhead fast bowler but never meant for the role of leadership or heart-mender.

Karunaratne said he saw himself as a “friend of the players” who understands their needs and problems by constantly interacting and bonding with them on tour.

He will have the guidance of his former captain Angelo Mathews who after burning his fingers not once but twice declined to lead the team over purported differences with Hathurusinha that made him the fall-guy last year.

But as all eyes will be on Karunaratne and a team with several recalled faces, so will the attention be or questions asked about coach Hathurusinha whom Sri Lanka Cricket wants hidden just in case team plans are revealed according to Sri Lanka Cricket President Shammi Silva.

“We are hiding the coach (Hathurusinha),” said Silva. “It’s the World Cup and we do not want to give out our plans to outsiders. Hathurusinha will do a good job and the difference will be seen.”

Sri Lanka World Cup squad:

Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Avishka Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Jeffrey Vandersay, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep Fernando, Jeewan Mendis and Milinda Siriwardena