Airtel’s fastest bowlers down to best 14 hopefuls | Sunday Observer

Airtel’s fastest bowlers down to best 14 hopefuls

The next generation of fast bowlers have been finalized to the last 14 through the Airtel Fastest bowling program that was able to unearth the talented. These speedsters are now waiting to be picked by clubs where they can begin their cricketing careers until they are enrolled to the national team some day.

Former Sri Lanka fast bowler Anusha Samaranayake who was with the program throughout said that these final set of bowlers have gone through a training stint too that enabled them to improve on their speed, technique and other aspects in bowling.

“The important thing that we looked at is their speed and whether this can be improved by 20 per cent with proper training. Most of them have not played hard ball cricket and it is a different game altogether. They will have to learn to adjust to the hard ball and along with their rhythm in the run-up and physical improvement they should be able to improve. All these aspects were looked into before reducing the numbers to just 14 that began with about 10,000 turning up for the selections,” said Samaranayake.

“It will be a long journey for them to become professional players. They will have to improve in their fitness, muscle strength, body structure and balance before moving on to play club cricket in A division, then enter the emerging national team and finally the national team,” added Samaranayake.

Overall, a fast bowler has to improve in all aspects by about 60 per cent to become a fully fledged national bowler.

Samaranayake who is in charge of the coaching of the aspiring bowlers said that these lads from the country side have not even played school cricket. He has watched closely the actions of each bowler before offering advice on the aspects that needed to be improved.

Samaranayake said that there was one boy and one girl who had the square arm action, similar to that of Lasith Malinga. He said that such bowlers can bowl the yorkers very well because of the low trajectory of the arm swing.

The Sunday Observer spoke to the girl with the square arm action, Shayeni Senaratne, who hails from Mattegamuwa and then moved over to Theldeniya Central College and even captained its cricket team. During schooldays they played only one match per year and had developed this action from her young days.

She now plays for Chilaw Marians against teams like Navy, Army, Air Force and Police and her best performances came in the women’s Super Provincial tournament where she captured ten wickets from only three matches. Unfortunately, like others, she is still unemployed and will need some sponsors to pursue with her cricketing career and make their dreams come true.

The other females in the final squad are Vishmi Dewmini, Malsha Dadushani and Methma Hettiarachchi.

The fastest male bowler whom the Sunday Observer caught up with was Malindu Shehan who hails from Tangalle. He is 5’ 7” tall and is 24 years old but never played cricket at Weerakatiya Rajapaksa Central College where he was educated.

He only played with the soft ball and started playing hard ball cricket only two years ago.

However, after going for the Airtel fastest bowlers talent search, he learnt the basic art of bowling with the hard ball and has improved in his speed from 120 to 134 kmph. Fortunately for Shehan he is able to join BRC during practice sessions with intentions of going on to play for the club.

His father is a small time businessman and even Shehan used to look after a small shop. But now with a cricket career in the making, he has to live in Colombo sharing a lodge with his brother who is a campus student.

All these male fast bowlers are given the opportunity to bowl at the Sri Lanka team during practices and are able to learn more finer points in their quest to become potential players for leading club teams.

The other male speeders are Eshan Malinga, Mohammed Akil, Maleesha Duran, Janith Madushanka, Chiran Theekshana, Mohammed Faheem, Rasanjana Aravindu, Chandula Sudampathi and Arun Prakash.