Pressure can make you a strong player - Bawantha Jayasinghe | Sunday Observer
Man of the Match in the Battle of the Brothers

Pressure can make you a strong player - Bawantha Jayasinghe

At the Thurstan-Isipathana match known as the Battle of the Brothers played at the SSC grounds Bawantha grabbed four wickets for Thurstan at Isipathana’s first innings. Bawantha Jayasinghe, the number five batsman in the Thurstan College team scored 137 for his team and collected the first century for the season. He also won the ‘Man of the Match title at the 57th encounter. Twenty-three years ago, in a big match between the two schools, his father achieved a similar milestone scoring 150 runs. Hence, this year Bawantha followed in his father’s footsteps. Winning the Man of the Match title was an emotional moment for Bawantha.

An elated Bawantha spoke to the Youth Observer on his success.

“At the inception we lost four wickets. It was a difficult time for us, as our opponents were taking control of the match. I could see the crowds cheering the victory of the rival group”. As an all-rounder, Bawantha understood that the team had placed their hopes on him and was prepared to face the challenge. But there were two major obstacles. First, he had to counter the formidable rival team who took the first four wickets for the lower scorecard. Second, the same fast bowler had bowled Bawantha’s wicket the last time, denying him the chance to score during their traditional clash ‌last year.

“It was a big challenge for me, but I made up my mind to take it up.

At the beginning, I didn’t think of scoring 100 points. I thought I would never give my wicket to the opponents,” Bawantha said.

His determination brought him success. He didn’t leave any chances to the opponent bowlers. As a very young cricketer, he had a strong will which stood him in good stead. “Even though I am young, pressure does not put me down. I can overcome any pressure. On several occasions I have done that,” he said.

Bawantha’s personal trainer is his father, a District Coach at Sri Lanka Cricket. He never fails to train with his father at least for an hour and a half, daily. Working with a personal trainer has been a big advantage to develop his ability. “I usually train daily, for more than an hour and a half.” His daily routine starts early in the morning, from his village, Navagamuwa, with his father. ‘ I leave for Colombo around 6 a.m. to practise with my Dad. Mostly I do exercises to build my strength. We also train with our Thurstan College coach. My dream is to join the national team one day, he says.

Bawantha hopes to complete his education, and participates in extra classes. He gets help from his fellow students. “I don’t want to give up my education. Cricket is my life. But education is useful for all human beings. Therefore, I will do my A/L examination as well as possible,” Bawanta says with pride.

He realises that as a cricketer he needs to be competent in the English language, for which he tries to read as much as possible. ‘I like to read the life stories of players. I go for books or newspapers that tell you how they built themselves as famous players. My father helps to develop my personality. ‘ he said. It is a good example for other sportsmen and women to follow.

It is no secret that many greats had their origins with their fathers. Stephen Smith, a well-known cricketer, received regular training and coaching from his father during his initial days. He continued his training with a tape ball, a golf ball, bouncing the ball on the cement floor and bowling a single stump. Many Sri Lankan players have entered the world of cricket with the help of their fathers. In the early days Kusal Mendis’ father was his coach.

“My coach too was my father. He said that I played cricket from a tender age, and had much talent. I look forward to the future, hoping to get into the national team, and fight for the Lion Flag. I like to do that with speed and batting. It means being an all-rounder,” Bawantha is optimistic about the future.

Talking about food Bawantha said he loved to eat simple home cooked food. He enjoyed village food such as, jak, coconut, sweet potatoes, meat, fish, milk and eggs. I do not take extra nutritious food which we cannot afford. But I have a strong will and my dream is to honour the country and my school too, ‘ he says.

Bawantha started to play cricket at the age of eight. “I started playing cricket when I was in grade four. I was a leader in the 13 -15 age group. This is my second year playing for the under-19 team. Now I am in the A/L class. For another two years, I will be representing the school’s under-19 team,” Bawantha said.

He has scored nearly 500 runs in this school cricket season and has taken more than 30 wickets as a fast bowler. ‘I want to be an all-round athlete. But I like batting more. I am a right-hander and a right-arm fast bowler. I like to bowl mostly left-handed batsmen, and bowl them out. I am more focused on bowling. My goal is to send a ball mix and make the opponents uncomfortable. But I try to swing the ball well,” he says.

‘It’s good if we can talk to international players and share their experiences. We don’t get such opportunities. I hope to do so in the near future. My favourite cricketer is Ben Stock. I’d like to become successful like him. He is a marvellous player. I will be happy to become the Sri Lankan Ben Stock. It is my distant dream. Do not laugh. I never give up.” That is how Bawanta declared his determination.

‘I mean don’t give up. Stick to your determination. If you have the talent, you can improve your skills. I train myself to avoid unnecessary injuries. I want to bring success to my school and my country. After I scored a century in the big match, the teachers and students loved me even more,” he said.