Rex Clementine, in The Island, 24 May 2023, where the title reads: “Matheesha: Cricket’s Latest Sensation” ….…. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
We’ve heard it from cricket’s supremo M.S. Dhoni that young fast bowling sensation Matheesha Pathirana should get nowhere near red ball cricket. There would have been quite a furore had Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene said it. Remember the reaction when they echoed similar sentiments in the case of Lasith Malinga all those years ago. But with talents like Matheesha and Malinga it seems a sensible move. After all, Sanga and MJ rarely get their facts wrong.
As with Matheesha, already he has had his share of injuries and missed quite a few campaigns for Sri Lanka. He has featured in just one T-20 International so far in Sri Lankan colours which was against Afghanistan last year during the Asia Cup.
Matheesha was set to play the T-20 series in New Zealand in March, but he tested positive for COVID and had to be isolated. Matheesha was sold for the base price of US$ 25,000 in the IPL. He will fetch the same amount next season. But here’s the trick. The season after, when there’s an auction, he could fetch a princely sum. If Chennai Super Kings opt to retain him, which they will most probably do, he will get as much as US$ 1 million. But if he is third in the list of retained players then that amount goes up to US$ 1.2 million. Not bad for a 20-year-old.
The story from Madras is that CSK are quite thrilled with their young fast bowling sensation. The franchise is owned by India Cements boss N. Srinivasan, one time President of the International Cricket Council.
Isn’t that a strange world we live in. Not so long ago, Sri Lankans were persona non grata in Madras. Sri Lankan players couldn’t feature for their IPL teams if the games were in Madras. Since 2005, the Sri Lankan team hasn’t played a game in Madras. Time was when a game in Madras for Sri Lanka was a must.
But that’s the beauty of sports. No matter how hard politicians try, when young sensations like Matheesha come, fans embrace them and politicians are watchful to go against the public opinion. Matheesha has become a household name from Madras to Madurai.
There was a generation of youngsters who emulated Wasim Akram as their hero. Even right-arm seamers used to carry the ball in their left-hand and change it to right-hand as they leaped up to deliver. The only problem was most of us never had the pace or the accuracy of Sultan of Swing. Cricketing gods have been extra kind to Pakistan gifting them with so many fast bowling talents.
The modern generation tried to copy Malinga. It is one thing copying Malinga but quite a tough one to generate that pace. Matheesha was able to do it. He was at the little heard Ranabima Royal when Trinity College in Kandy sent word to district coaches to recommend them a good fast bowler. They were feeling the pinch since Lahiru Kumara had left school.
Trinity coach Kavinda Jayasuriya was quite excited by what he saw and former Trinity captain Bilal Fassy facilitated the move. By then, Chaminda Vaas, that excellent spotter of fast bowling talent, had invited Matheesha to Colombo, but his parents were reluctant to part ways with their child. Trinity in their hometown sounded like a sensible move.
In his first game for Trinity, Matheesha picked up five for 11 against St. Servatius, Matara. Someone recorded Matheesha’s action and the video went viral. It went so viral that it ended up in M.S. Dhoni’s phone.
Impressed by what he saw, Dhoni wanted Matheesha at the CSK camp as a net bowler. There was a problem in getting him to UAE where the IPL was played that season as the COVID vaccine that UAE was accepting wasn’t available in Sri Lanka at that time. But Professor Arjuna de Silva’s expertise came in handy and soon the vaccine was administered to Matheesha. But there was another hurdle.
Trinity was unwilling to send Matheesha to CSK ranks as he was still a school kid. However, after much convincing he was given permission. After all, you don’t turn down Dhoni.
Harsha Bhogle, the popular Indian commentator is trying to give Dhoni all the credit for grooming Matheesha. Yes, no doubt that the fast bowler is in safe hands, but the grooming of this talent happened in Sri Lanka and not in Madras. Vaas, Fassy, Chris Silverwood, the coaches at Trinity and SLC’s District and Provincial coaches need to be given much credit for unearthing and developing another rare talent.
“Death bowling masterclass.” … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXF7c2LyGDo
“Lasith Malinga Best Bowling- Yorker King,” ………………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ
“Fact Check: Did Sri Lankan Bowler Matheesha Pathirana Bowl 175 Kph Delivery In U-19 WC?” …………………………………………………………… https://english.newsnationtv.com/sports/cricket/fact-check-did-sri-lankan-bowler-matheesha-pathirana-bowl-175-kph-delivery-in-u-19-wc-251612.html