Sports star with pedigree as a cricketer | Sunday Observer

Sports star with pedigree as a cricketer

Antonian Theeksha Gunasinghe is a talented rugby player but he is determined to pursue his cricket career inspired after bagging the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 award.

The 19-year-old left-handed wicket keeper/batsman from St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota was elated after receiving this prestigious award in addition to being Best Batsman (Division II) runner-up.

“I have not won any personal award earlier. I got the Best Batsman runner-up this year. That was unexpected. That was my first personal award. This (Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year) is the biggest award in my career,” said the diminutive cricketer who has pedigree as a sports star coming from a cricketing family.

“I’m coming from a cricketing background. My grandfather Sena Kalpage played for Nalanda. My two uncles Ruwan and Nuwan Kalpage both played at the top level. My elder brother Nimesha Gunasinghe captained St. Anthony’s in 2014 and plays for Nondescripts Cricket Club,” said Theeksha proudly.

But having the pedigree is one thing and achieving excellence on the field is different. He seems to have the Midas touch in the field of sports.

“I was about 10 years old when I started playing cricket for St. Anthony’s. I represented all age groups from under 13 and also captained all College junior teams,” said Theeksha who captained St. Anthony’s in his final season leading from the front by scoring 1,100 runs.

“My best performance was against St. Joseph’s College, Colombo for the Murali-Vaas Trophy which were able to win outright after 27 years. I scored 142 and we won by an innings. That was the standout performance for me,” said Theeksha who achieved his goal of seeing the Antonians gain promotion to Division I.

“That was my main focus because we were playing in Division II for about four years. Our main focus was promotion of College to Division I. Luckily I was able to lead my team to that goal after being runners-up this season,” he said.

“I am extremely happy and grateful to everyone who voted for me starting from my family. They put in a lot of effort. They made a huge contribution and then my school as well. As soon as they saw my name in the newspaper, the Principal, Vice Principal and teachers, they all got together and organized a huge campaign within the school to make sure I get votes, day in and day out. I also want to thank all my friends, well wishers and old boys from different parts of the world,” said Theeksha who also excelled in the field of rugby playing as scrum half and fly half.

“I captained all junior College rugby teams. I was in the 15 which was selected for the Youth Commonwealth Games in 2017 in Bahamas. I did not tour because I was a stand-by. So I got National schools rugby colours but my main focus was cricket at school,” said Theeksha who has been part of national development squads.

Among his idols is the 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2018 Hasitha Boyagoda of Trinity. “My favourite player is Virat Kohli. I love his aggression. Then Kumar Sangakkara and my own brother Nimesha and Hasitha who was from a rival school Trinity but we played together and against each other. He is one of my heroes too,” said Theeksha who is a bright student academically as well, awaiting his A/L results before deciding his future.

“If I get a chance to play cricket for a club or call-up for a squad or overseas, I’ll consider the opportunity. My current focus is studies,” said Theeksha, a level-headed cricketer who is not carried away by success.