Ashen Bandara: Sri Lanka’s new kid on the block | Sunday Observer

Ashen Bandara: Sri Lanka’s new kid on the block

14 March, 2021
Ashen Bandara
Ashen Bandara

Ashen Bandara the promising cricketer is the latest addition to the Sri Lanka team as a brilliant fielder at any position and a useful middle order batsman who also bowls right arm leg spinners.

The 22-year old player from St. Aloysius’ College in Galle has already proved his ability during the current West Indies tour and made 44 in the second T20 match that Sri Lanka won and then become the fifth batsman from the island to make a half century on debut in an ODI when he achieved the feat in the first match against the same opposition last Wednesday.

Bandara was at home playing the sweep shot like a seasoned pro and scored most of his runs on the leg side in reaching his half century in 60 balls as Sri Lanka were all out for 232.

“Ashen Bandara was always a very active player from school level and his dedication was very high”, said Malaka de Silva the coach of St. Aloysius’ College.

“When I saw him playing in the under 17 College team I realized his talent as a useful batting all-rounder. He has a good technique as a batsman especially against spinners and has good footwork. He plays the sweep well and can handle pressure situations well”, added De Silva who captained the school team in 1993-94.

De Silva recalled that Bandara was never satisfied at fielding practices and wanted more that made him into a specialist fielder.

He was the under 19 captain in the 2016-17 season and was also adjudged best fielder and runner-up best batsman.

“It was no surprise then that Bandara found a place in the Sri Lanka team for the Youth World Cup in New Zealand with Kamindu Mendis as captain and that was the turning point of his cricket career,” said De Silva. Bandara caught the eye of the Selectors in 2017 when during a home Test series against India the Sri Lankan team management wanted some potential ‘replacements’ in case of emergency from the nearest school close to the Galle International Stadium.

Bandara was one of them sent by St. Aloysius’ College and went on to the field as a fielding replacement for an injured Asela Gunaratne and one opposing player impressed by the teenager’s exploits on the field was none other than the India captain Virat Kohli.

“Bandara was full of confidence and never looked back. He has the potential to make it to the Test team as well,” said De Silva.

Bandara also had a godfather in a former old boy of St. Aloysius’ College, Harry Solomons who is based in Australia and took care of his cricketing needs.

“Ashen is very exciting young talent. He hits the ball well and he is very athletic. He has a good technique and he is electrifying on the field,” said Sri Lanka head coach Mickey Arthur.