Royal reject and Thomian gain Kalana Perera aims to be the next Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Royal reject and Thomian gain Kalana Perera aims to be the next Chaminda Vaas of Sri Lanka

Kalana Perera
Kalana Perera

Coincidence seems to have taken a liking with him and his Sri Lanka Emerging team coach, Chaminda Vaas. Be it the action or mode of delivery or the role for his first school Lyceum, Panadura and later St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia from where he booked a place in the Sri Lanka Emerging Team. The duo have much in common as Vaas first played for St. Anthony’s College in Wattala and later St. Joseph’s College in Colombo.

This year the champion Thomian cricket team’s vice-captain, Kalana Perera has been high-riding and performing exceptionally well. He enrolled at Royal College for one week, only to realize he was cold-shouldered and decided the school by the sea was waiting for him with open arms and he proved to be a humongous gift.

The Sunday Observer caught up with the star speedster, in uncovering his journey with growing awards and accolades.

Below are excerpts of an interview.

Q: How was it to take eight-wickets for just one-run, at the concluded inter-school season?

A: It was a good match (against St. Mary’s, Kegalle). I did not expect eight-wickets. But when I was bowling, I was in that hunger to take wickets when I got more than four wickets. I was aiming for ten-wickets so that it could be a record.

Q: Did it make you an improved bowler? What did you learn from it?

A: I learnt that if you have the hunger, you can achieve anything you want. You can’t do everything by yourself. You need the team support. Rather than taking eight-wickets for myself, I was really happy for my team because we bowled out a team for just six runs. That alone could have been impossible and that too is a record.

Q: Who was the most difficult batsman to bowl at?

A: Santhush Gunatilleke (from St. Peter’s College). He was always challenging and was the only batsman I never dismissed. We were always challenging each other, because he was always trying to hit me for sixes. So this year when I was batting, I just whacked him (says laughingly). We’re still good friends. He was the only batsman I could not dismiss.

Q: How was it to make a change from a schoolboy player to the Emerging Sri Lanka team? You become a semi-professional, don’t you?

A: Taking stuff from school cricket to Emerging, it is a different level. The game moves really fast. The game is kind of professional, too. It’s kind of close to a school game, but we have a lot to think, more mental side should be improved. We should be really stable and patient. It’s not easy to get a wicket. What we have to learn is maintain the fitness levels and improve on the thinking ability.

Q: What was it that you had to adjust and that you thought, you need not to?

A: I get that feeling, whenever I get a right-hander that I can get him out. But in the Emerging team, I can’t do the same thing, because they are also high-class batsmen. They know how to play against a left-arm fast bowler. So I should know how to adjust. It’s really difficult to get a batsman out. But depending on your mental thinking, variations and tactics, you can manage to.

Q: Have you decided on a club?

A: I am playing for the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC).

Q: You’re also a dependable batsman. Would you say that makes you a complete cricketer?

A: I should improve more on my batting, too. Rather than people calling me a fast bowler, I would like people to call me a perfect all-rounder. Should improve on batting and fielding more. My target is to be like my role model Chaminda Vaas. He was a good batsman too. I just want to play like him.

Q: Who has been your role model in the school team?

A: At school I was under three captains. Sithara Hapuhinna, Dellon Peiris and Romesh Nallapperuma. I wanted to be like Romesh Nallapperuma, because he was a good captain. In that year, we had only three coloursmen and he was balancing them well. I also did all what my coach wanted. Dellon was also a good captain for me. He gave me some tips. More than Dellon, Happa (Sithara Hapuhinna) inspired me a lot. To win this year’s big match, it was a good combination between the captain and the vice-captain. We were always talking and planning to get the correct team and somehow win the Big Match. So those three captains were my role models at school.

Q: What did you learn, when you toured South Africa with the Sri Lanka Emerging team and Australia with your school team?

A: In Australia, I was improving on my batting. In South Africa, I was learning how to get a batsman out. In South African it is really about taking out a batsman. I’m just learning about the art on how to dismiss a batsman. Emerging is the learning curve in cricket. If you learn there, you can progress to a very high level in cricket.

Q: In a nutshell, how would describe the standard of school cricket, during the last season?

A: Comparing with the other seasons, the concluded one was the best year. We became the one-day champions. I gave my heart out for the Big Match (against Royal) that we won after 12 years, but just could not win the Mustangs (limited over match) trophy. But I was never disappointed. I was the best bowler in the One-Day tournament with the most number of wickets and we were the runners-up in the two-day tournament. It was a great achievement. We were the best team for the second-consecutive year. I love STC and can’t forget my past school Lyceum, Panadura where I started my cricket.