Fans came in their numbers, while millions were glued to their TV sets when Romesh Kaluwitharana opened the innings with Sanath Jayasuriya in the mid 90’s. Little Kalu as he is fondly known in the commentary box brought about a new dimension to one day cricket. Kalu and Sanath played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s World Cup triumph in 1996. Behind the stumps he was a live wire, excellent hand-eye coordination, with an inborn talent to hit the ball out of the park is Kalu’s trade mark.
Q: – Kalu, since the World Cup is just 5 months away, and you played such a pivotal role in 1996, what is the advice that you would give our team who are in pursuit for the forthcoming big event?
A:-Take advantage of the home conditions and the support. We in 1996 had a great opportunity, playing against the Australians in their back yard, prior to the World Cup. It was a tough tour, but we took all the positives, and made it count. The current team has the talent and the potential to win the World Cup. They must enjoy each other’s company, play in unison, and instill the 3 “D” Dedication, Discipline, Determination. Incidentally I am happy our team has a similar opportunity that we had back in 1996, because they too will tour Australia. The Aussie series is testing, but the experience is priceless.
Q: – They say partnerships are made in heaven. Here on earth you and Sanath enjoyed a great partnership, what memories do carry with you of the good old days?
A: – It was a pleasure batting with Sanath. We had a great understanding, both on and off the field. I am proud that we brought in a new dimension to one day Cricket. I suppose many teams were taken on the back foot, initially because hitting over the top in the first 15 overs with the field restriction was new to the game. Yes Sanath and I took advantage and enjoyed while it lasted.
Q: – From a World class player to a “A” team national coach, how do you rate your new role?
A:-It is very different, I played competitive Cricket for over 2 decades, I got impatient I recon, when my bat didn’t meet the ball, but in my new role you need to be patient. Thank God by nature I have time for people, and this has helped me immensely as a coach. The “A” team is very different to a national outfit, man management is of paramount importance, and every single player is precious they have to be handled with great diplomacy, so I love what I am doing now.
Q: – Whom did you emulate as a player?
A: – To be honest you cannot emulate the greats. They are unique. I loved Vivian Richards; his hand-eye coordination was far beyond compare. I love the way the West Indians played their cricket in the yester year, I suppose psychologically their style played a big part in my Cricket.
Q: – You have a son does he posses the same passion and talent as you?
A:- When he was a kid, I think he got bored watching me play so much Cricket. I as a parent will not force him to emulate me that’s unfair by the child, well things have changed now, the passion is growing in him. Hopefully he will cotton onto the game, but I like to see him grow in stature in terms of education, and family values.
Q:- How do you rate our “A” team ?
A:- We are not short of talent. Many of the youngsters will reach the top. We have some very good batsmen second to none, but in modern day cricket, producing genuine all rounder’s is the norm. I also concentrate on their fielding. To be competitive in the international arena, fielding does play a big role.
Q:- As the “A” team coach it is unfair for me to ask you to single out an individual or individual’s as future hopefuls, but can you tell me the potential on the whole?
A:- I am sure that the back bench for the national team is strong. We have replacements, so that’s good news, what these boys need is the experience in playing against the big boys. I am thankful to the current administration; they have given us a great gateway, with plenty of international exposure, so from view point the future looks bright.
Q:- Do you as a coach put emphasis on sound technique ?
A:- Basics are very important. Once you have your basics right, improvisation will come with experience. I as a coach will never interfere with a young man’s natural ability, because the stroke or the delivery stride for that matter can be un-orthodox, if it is result oriented why not.
Q:- I hear that you have invested in hospitality trade, what made you take that decision?
A:- Brian, I have travelled round the World. To me I have never seen a country as beautiful in nature as Sri Lanka. I want to give an opportunity for the tourist to not only enjoy our inborn hospitality but also our scenic beauty. We have so much of potential in tourism; I want to play a small role in terms of development, so that Sri Lanka will be in the World map as a premier tourist destination.
Q:- Tell me about Kalu’s hide out ?
A:- It is unique. The hideout is situated at Udawalawe, its eco friendly, with all the luxuries. It is a great concept, because it resembles a boutique hotel, with an excellent swimming pool, comfortable rooms, healthy food, natural beauty, fresh air and freedom to walk and enjoy God’s gift to man, in other words away from our busy city life.
Q:- Finally what are you views of our new stadium coming up in Sooriyawewa ?
A:- I love the venue. It is a unique concept. The ground will grow in stature, with all the development taking shape at Hambantota. We have an airport, a port, the roads are fantastic, mark my word Sooriyawewa will be a Cricket hub. The ground will be amongst the best in the subcontinent. Also remember, most of our Cricketers hail from rural areas, hence this concept will add a lot of value to outstation Cricketers.
Interviewed by Brian Thomas – Media Manager SLC