Rex Clementine in The Island, 4 September 2022
When Sri Lanka under-19 landed in UK for a month long tour, they were the underdogs as the hosts had named quite a few players who had represented their counties in First Class cricket, one-day competition on the Hundred. Despite a strong opposition, the tourists won the Test series.
Ranudu Somaratne of Trinity
The first Test in Chelmsford turned out to be a nail biting contest where after being set 273 runs in 59 overs, Sri Lanka slumped to 48 for four before Trinity’s Ranuda Somaratne played a blinder to help his team win by three wickets with 11 deliveries to spare. The second Test, it looked Sri Lanka had it in the bag heading into the final session as England had lost five wickets and had only a lead of 28 runs. There was some stubborn resistance by the lower order to ensure a draw but Raveen de Silva’s side won the series.
Apart from captain de Silva (Nalanda), Somaratne (Trinity), opening batsman Asitha Wanninayake (St. Anthony’s), top order batter Shevon Daniel (St. Joseph’s), fast bowler Duvindu Ranatunga (Mahanama) were some of the players to impress.
Raveen De Silva of Nalanda (captain)
“They are all very different batters. Ranuda Somaratne was very impressive with the way he controlled the chase in the first Test. He rotated the strike, ran well between the wicket and has got a lot of potential. Asitha Wanniarachchi played a grinding innings, typical innings you would like to see in England. He pulled us out of a tricky situation. Same with Shevon in the second Test. Everyone got hit on the head and gloves and they fought well. Asitha maybe is a long format player, Shevon and Ranuda can switch into both formats. With Raveen the runs he scored and the way he bowled, he is good all-round potential.”
The youngest in the team is Duvindu Ranatunga. Hailing from Ratnapura, he landed at Mahanama College after passing the Grade Five Scholarship. While studies took him from Ratnapura to Colombo, cricket has taken him to UK. “Duvindu has been very impressive. He’s not been under pressure at all whether it’s the opposition, or the batsmen, language or the pitch. He has been very confident. He will always give you 110 percent. He was willing to go as night watchman in the second Test. He is only 17. We had got the AL results yesterday and hopefully we will get his OL results soon and I hope he has done well.”
Although England players were physically intimidating, young Duvindu didn’t mind firing them up by using the short ball to good effect.
“We were prepared to give as much as we got. We knew that we were going to get a lot of short balls. We said look our bowlers have got to help our batters out.”
“It was a fantastic effort by the boys. We played together as a team that was the difference I thought. In difficult times on and off the field we helped each other and I thought that was the hallmark of the success of the team.”
After winning the first Test, it was somewhat surprising to see Sri Lanka making two changes. Mubarak explained why. “The plan is to make sure that everyone gets a game. We believe that they are all good to play at this level. We expect everyone to maintain standards. Everyone who has come on tour will get a game.”
Several players on tour have come out of Sri Lanka for the first time and it’s no easy task to look after as they struggle with food and weather. “With the food, we have had a lot of help and support from the Sri Lankan community wherever we go. In Loughborough, Essex and in Derby as well the Sri Lankan community has been able to get Sri Lankan food from restaurants or home cooked meals. That has helped us to look after the boys.”
A Thuppahi PS: Young Ranatunga is more than a handful even beyond the cricket field –especially for official documentation: his full name runs thus … “Ranathunga Arachchillage Duvindu Sendiv Imanjith Ranathunga”