From The ALOYSIAN, April 2021, edit. by Johnny De Silva
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.
ASHEN in the West Indies.
T20I vs West Indies played from 4 to 8 March. 1st match run out in the last over. Score 10. In the 2nd match was out in the last over. Score 21. In the 3rd match he was 44 not out. His strike rate was always over 100.
ODI’s vs West Indies played from 11 to 15 March. 1st match 50 in his first ODI representing Sri Lanka! 2nd match out for 18. 3rd match he was 55 not out.
After the 1st ODI Danyal Rasool, sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo in his report had this to say. “Ashen Bandara on ODI debut, showed great maturity, regularly rotating the strike and punishing loose deliveries – uncommon though they were – to steer Sri Lanka past 200 and bring up his half-century.”
After the 3rd ODI Madushka Balasuriya of ESPNcricinfo in his report said that…“Bandara did his claims for a permanent role in the Sri Lanka first XI no harm at all, providing the ideal foil to Hasaranga’s stand-and-deliver approach. In comparison to his partner’s seven fours and three sixes, Bandara only managed four boundaries. However, most of them, including a smoked straight six off Fabian Allen, came after the 45th over just as Sri Lanka would have been hoping to up the scoring.
Together, the pair plundered 63 runs off the final five overs to take Sri Lanka to their highest total of the series. When they came together, at 151 for 6 at the end of the 32nd, a score in that region would have been beyond even the most optimistic observer.
But it could have been much worse for them if not for a magnificent counterattack from Hasaranga and Ashen Bandara earlier in the day. The pair put on unbeaten 123-run seventh-wicket stand to rocket-charge the Sri Lanka innings, after the outstanding Akeal Hosein had again exposed the fault lines running through their batting.”
Ashen was not selected in the Test Team.
Our heartiest congratulations go out to this talented young cricketer who was a star at SAC. May you go on to bigger and better things.
Harold Solomons of Kingsgrove Sports also helped with materials for the College and The Foundation of Goodness at Seenigama.