Rising cricket star from Anuradhapura | Sunday Observer

Rising cricket star from Anuradhapura

14 August, 2022
Danidu with his family
Danidu with his family

In any form of cricket, scoring runs for a batsman is no easy task. Although cricket is a game between bat and ball, on the pitch one lone batsman has to score runs against 11 opposing players. Therefore, it is rare for a batsman to cross the 500-run mark let alone score a century or a double century. Only a handful of such incidents have been recorded in cricketing history.

The foremost among them is the record set by Pranav Dhanawade from Maharashtra in India. In 2016 he scored 1009 runs in a local match considered a remarkable feat to this day. He was 16-years-old at the time and broke a 116 old world record. The previous record of a whopping 628 runs had been set by British school cricketer A.E.J Collins in 1899 at a local match. Accordingly, Dhanawade was the first to cross the 100-run mark in any form of cricket. The record set by West Indies Cricketer Brian Lara is also mentionable where he scored 501 runs not out.

This story is about a similarly amazing feat by a 14-year-old school boy from Anuradhapura. His record will go down in the annals of Sri Lankan cricket as the highest number of runs scored by any batsman in an innings in any form of competition or under any age group in the history of Sri Lankan cricket.

He is Danidu Chirath Sellaperuma. The opening batsman of the Anuradhapura St. Joseph’s College under 15 cricket team. Danidu achieved this remarkable feat at a recent match held at the Salgado Stadium against the Lyceum International School.

His unbeaten 553 runs that day included 63 fours and 31 spectacular sixes.

According to Danidu, his coach had set a target of 150 runs for him. “But by lunch, I had already scored 216 runs from 94 balls. He informed me that the innings would be stopped by tea and asked me to hit the 300 runs mark if possible,” he says.

But Danidu was able to exceed even this target. “I was overjoyed. The opposing team’s bowling was top-notch. Especially the opening fast bowler and the spinner who bowled in the middle of the innings was a major challenge for me. I had to face both of them carefully. I observed them and batted carefully without taking any risks. My batting partner Gaviru supported me throughout. He also scored 75 runs. We both built a partnership of 448 runs till the first wicket. During the innings, we both discussed that we will play as long an innings as possible. Though I nearly got out on two occasions I managed to remain not out,” he added.

Recalling moments from his cricketing career, Danidu says he first played for the under-13 team. “I got out on the very first ball. But I did not let it dishearten me. I scored 137 runs in the next match. There were no matches during the Covid pandemic. When matches resumed I played one match against Lyceum. I only managed to score 48 runs in that.” he said.

Danidu says he had a reason to attempt to score as many boundaries as possible in this match. “During Covid, I would play cricket with my friends. A month before the match on one such occasion I cut my sole by mistake on a shard of glass. Even at the match, I played with some difficulty due to this. So I always tried to score boundaries with singles as I would not have to run as much,” he revealed.

“My only goal is to one day play for the national team. Following my recent performance, several schools have invited me to become enrolled with them and play for their teams. I have left that decision in the hands of my father” he said.

Danidu says he admires Sri Lankan cricketing legends Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara. “I also like Chris Gayle. I would like to bat like him. I believe I am also a good bowler but I prefer to play as a batting all-rounder.” he added.

According to Danidu, he had no inkling he would be able to score 500 runs on the day. “But I am happy I was able to. I only got to know much later that I had set a record.”

Danidu’s coach Athula Rohana says he identified the young boy’s talent in his first match itself. According to Rohana, the young cricketer was first chosen for the under 13 B team at the school. “He may have got out in the very first ball itself but watching that shot I realised he was talented. I decided to move him to the A team and proved myself correct by scoring a century at the next match,” Rohana said.

“The match in which he scored 500 runs was a one-day match of four innings. By the time we stopped the innings, he had been on the pitch for four hours. A coach is more than happy if a player scores 50 runs but I told him I expected 150 from him. He has a bright future ahead. He is a left-handed batsman like Sanath Jayasuriya and bats like him as well. I’m sure if he keeps playing he will succeed in life. He is a sporting asset for our country.

Danidu’s parents are ecstatic by his talents and performance on the field. His mother Gayani Kanchana Aluthgamage is a dance teacher at St. Joseph’s College in Anuradhapura. “I don’t know much about cricket. His journey in cricket began with his father who also has a talent for the game. He first began playing football and switched to cricket in Grade 6. But even as a child he would play cricket with his father at the nearby tank. The Covid pandemic however stalled his cricketing career for a short while” she said.

“Due to the cut on his foot, I did not want him to play in this match. But he insisted and tried to mask the pain even while playing. I am still amazed as to how he did it despite the severe pain,” she added.

His mother says Danidu has unusual interests for a young boy his age. According to her, he is a talented flute player and even sat for the Visharada examination. “I am sure he will get through,” she said. Speaking of his many more talents, his mother said Danidu is also a talented drummer, singer and an athlete. According to her on the day of the match, she watched Danidu play in awe. “I had never watched him play before. It amazed me. I will always support him to the best of my abilities” she added.

His father Ashan Koshala Sellaperuma has a similar story to tell. According to him, Danidu displayed signs of sporting talent even at the age of three. “I have played sports, especially football throughout my life as a student at St. Joseph’s College and even at the club level. I was confident therefore that he would also carry these talents,” he said.

According to Selleperuma, Danidu has shown talent in dancing, music, football and cricket. He says he is determined to guide his son to be successful in his career in cricket as it is also Danidu’s wish to join the national team.

“But he is also good in his studies. I believe he has a bright future in whichever path he chooses,” he said.

This article is an english translation of Fauz Mohamed.