can often go unrewarded
'A genuine wicket-keeper will always be an asset' -
By S.R. Pathiravithana
During his prime Gamini Dayanath Wickremasinghe was hailed as (arguably)the
best wicket-keeper in the island, but he still believes that the
job of a genuine wicket keeper is an unrewarding one. The rest of
this story goes on to explain why he maintains this view .
" It was
the 1989-90 season and the third and final trial game in preparation
for the forthcoming Benson and Hedges Series in Australia. I was
playing in Ravi Ratnayake's team and the other side was captained
by Arjuna Ranatunge. Opening batting for the Ranatunge Xl was young
Sanath Jayasuriya facing Ravi Ratnayake and he was all at sea with
the swinging across his body. I noticed that he was batting yards
away from the popping crease and then I walked upto my captain and
explained my observations and requested for permission to move up
to the wicket. Ravi was rather amused and asked me 'are you sure
that you can move up and do what you intend doing,' I said yes and
he asked me to go ahead. A few balls later I had Sanath stumped
off the Sri Lankan opening bowler.
feel that this deed opened the doors for me in the national squad"
said the now busy banker. Wickremasinghe continued-" A few
days later the Sri Lankan squad for the tour lasting almost three
and a half months was announced and I was selected as the only specialist
tour I played more than thirty matches including one of the two
Test matches which were played. I played in the first Test match
and had five victims, but I had to make way for Hashan Tillekeratne
to don gloves for the first time in his international career as
the system had the feeling that it was better to have a batsman
who could keep wickets rather than a specialist wicket-keeper so
that they would have a sense of security."
Nalanda wicket-keeper added: " I played two more Test matches
for the country that was against New Zealand in Sri Lanka and that
was thus far I went where Test cricket was concerned. I am not blaming
any individual. This is a fault of the system. I am not the only
one who faced this situation. Prior to me, I remember Mahesh Gunatilleke
faced a similar fate while there were quite a few even after me.
Even now we are groping in the dark in search of the best man to
stand behind the stumps. What I feel is that it should be a genuine
wicket-keeper who must do the job out there, rather than a batsman
who could also keep wickets. A genuine wicket-keeper can be an asset
to the side. A difficult chance that he could convert into a wicket
can turn the fate of a game.
I must further
add that especially in Test Cricket pressure is very much greater
than in any other form of cricket and a person even if he is a genuine
wicket-keeper may make mistakes that he may not do in a normal game.
This is because Test Cricket is different. Let him go on for a few
games so that it would help him to gain the much needed confidence
that he needs at this level of the game.
is not confined only to Sri Lanka. There are also other countries
who are riddled with this problem. I do not know how they are going
to get out of this situation, but, I know this happens when the
top order batting fails to live up to expectations and the system
has to look for other cures for the ailment".
school captain was Kushan Weerasinghe with Thilanga Sumathipala
as vice-captain. This side also had batsmen of the calibre of Roshan
Mahanama and Asanka Gurusinghe. So, performing as a batsman was
not my job and at the end of that season I was selected to tour
with the Sri Lanka under- 19 team under Aravinda de Silva.
This team also
comprised Mahanama, Gurusinghe, Don Anurasiri, Marlon Von Hagt,
Jerome Jayaratne who later went on to represent Sri Lanka. The Australian
under 19 team also had some players who went on to perform greater
deeds later in their careers. They were, Steve and Mark Waugh, Mark
Taylor, Craig McDermott, as I recall. Thereafter I toured Zimbabwe
which was not a Test playing nation at that time with the Sri Lanka
'A' team under Roy Dias during this tour in one of the unofficial
Test matches Hashan and I both got hundreds."
drawn towards wicket-keeping after seeing the Australian legend
Rodney Marsh in action on television. After this he worked towards
his goal until his school coach Nelson Mendis discovered and drafted
him into the junior team at Nalanda. At present Gamini Wickremasinghe
is involved with cricket as a member of the 'Sri Lanka Cricket'