Now that former Sri Lanka captain and stylish right hand batsman Dinesh Chandimal has decided rightly to join the Army as a Major it will give him the impetus to restart his promising career, that had been insensibly stalled at the moment.
He served notice of his immense talent in a school from down south Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda who later threw in his cricketing talent with Ananda College. Overrated there he was inspired to bloom and blossom and finally earn his spurs as a national cricketer. It must be recalled that from the same school emerged former left arm spin wizard Ajit de Silva.
Playing competitive cricket after joining Nondescript Cricket Club which club has given to the country champions such as the then known as Prince of captains Vernon Prins, Michael Tissera, H.I.K. and Ranjit and Sunil Fernando, Annesley de Silva, Aravinda de Silva, Russel Arnold, Ranjan Madugalle and Kumar Sangakkara to name a few, with apologies to those whose names I have left out not willfully, Chandimal broke out with great success to earn his national cap.
Not only did he proudly earn his national cap, he went on to realize a dream of every cricketer and that is to lead the country in the elite game showing a clever, intelligent cricket brain, that not all cricketers are blessed with.
Those who watched his progress closely at Ananda and NCC saw in him rare talent that some of our celebrated cricketers, especially batsmen did not posses. That he had the cricket world at his feet was predicted.
Two innings that are etched in my memory because I had the good fortune of being present at those venues was when he made a hundred at Lord’s and a fifty plus at Wellington in a World Cup game against Australia.
Those two knocks were absolute beauties and came in for high praise from the aficionados who reveled in watching those rare batting gems and still recall and talk about them.
Then when the cricketing world was at his feet, misfortune struck when injuries which are dreaded by sportsmen struck which stunted and halted his career, which was a great loss to him the game and the country.
There are also stories told that he has been penalized and sidelined for no fault of his by those who have ganged up to stage a cricketing coup and manacle his progress which if true is a great loss to the game. We don’t believe these stories but, it is said that there is no smoke without fire.
Having said that, the present selectors did well in recalling him and including him in the squad that played against New Zealand recently. But he would have been dejected and disappointed not being given a game. But those are the vicissitudes of the game and Chandimal must learn to ride them and learn from them.
Now that he has decided to join the Army, he will have the opportunities to kick start his career again which Sri Lanka cricket can’t afford to lose and get back to playing in the big league and making waves with the bat.
Apparently his troubles started and he ran into a road block when he was appointed captain of the country at a very early age. This apparently angered the seniors who ganged up to rebel against him and with injuries besetting him and sudden loss of form, his antagonists scored and won the day.
But it is not the end of his career as yet. He has more years of cricket ahead of him and he needs to hit hard at his detractors by scoring heavily and forcing his way into the national team and probably as captain again and we wish him well.
The Army, especially the cricketers will have a special guard of honour for him and salute him as Major as they endeavour to become a major force in big time cricket in the country. In the past it must be recalled that the Army had some top class cricketers in Dr. H.I.K. Fernando, Cecil Waidyaratne, who was my team mate at St. Benedict’s College who ended up as Commander, K.M.S. Perera, Nalin Ahangamana, who unfortunately fell victim during the dreaded war, T.D. Rajapaksa, Nihal Marambe, Lalith Gooneratne and several others whose names that don’t come to mind.
Although he did not play cricket for the Army the best all round sportsman they had who excelled in many sports was the genial Dr. Chelliah Thurairaja whose exploits in many sports had been chronicled over the years and the writer had the good fortune to feature him in the ‘SPORTS LEGENDS’ column in the ‘DAILY NEWS’.
Michael de Zoysa passes away
It was sad to hear about the passing away of Michael de Zoysa one who could be described as a man of many parts.
Michael was a top ranker in the tea trade, held many posts at Sri Lanka Cricket, SSC cricketer, TV and Radio commentator and above all was a fine gentleman and a friend in need and a friend indeed and helper to many a budding cricketer.
Michael did a lot for his club the SSC and with his rare knowledge was its curator at one time and produced pitches that played fair for both teams.
He played cricket for the SSC and was a fair all rounder. He was the son of that former famed leg spinner Lucian de Zoysa. Michael was proud to be a Thomian. He was one time manager of the national cricket team and did a magnificent job and I can vouch for it because I was one on some of those tours as a correspondent.
Ranjit Fernando, the former Sri Lanka wicket keeper batsman was all praise for Michael and said his loss is immeasurable and that there would never be another Michael de Zoysa. The Sri Lankan cricketers playing in Pakistan sported black arm bands as a mark of respect for M.de Z.
May the turf lie lightly on this cricketing gentleman.