Wasantha, a Sri Lankan talent retired hurt

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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and the pure arithmetic says it was just not possible for me to support my family. So it was end of all roads,'' he told UNI.

''Still I could have continued but there was simply no prospect in the horizon and even at SSC, my hard work wasn't getting recognised. So I decided to call it quits. Being the only child means you have to sacrifice a lot and think beyond your dream.,'' he recalled.

After snapping his ties with the game, Wasantha, however, maintains he is the victim of the star system in SSC.

''The SSC team was teeming with names like Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Avishka Gunawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Nuwan Zoysa, Dilhara Fernandoa. I mean it was who's who of Lankan cricket. Whenever they were touring abroad, I would be played and records will vouch for me that I did quite well. In fact, Marvan was always there, encouraging me, while Dilhara and Nuwan helped me master swing and yorker. I was the first change bowler when Dilhara and Nuwan played.

''But things were not going the way I would have liked. Once they returned home, I would be the first casualty. And you couldn't leave the club because you know SSC has lot of say in the national team selection. It was a catch 22 situation for me. I couldn't thrive in their company and still can't leave the club. In the end, I quit it all,'' he explained. Wasantha, however, cherishes some happy memories of the game and that includes the Under-19 World Cup which India, led by Mohammad Kaif, won beating the Lankans. ''I was bowling well in the tournament but we lost to India in the final. I did not bowl that badly in the match even though I went wicketless. I remember I conceded 30 runs in eight overs.

Yuvraj Singh snatched the match from us,'' he reminisced.

Wasantha had a rather weird wrong-foot action, despite which he managed to hurl the cherry at a decent 130 kmph pace.

''I was not the only bowler on earth with a wrong-foot action.

You must have seen Chris Harris of New Zealand. But his stock bowl was the slow cutter, while mine was faster. It was more like Venkatesh Prasad's cutter. I don't know how I picked up my action but I clung on to it and never felt hamstrung,'' he elaborated.

Wasantha refuses to divulge but gives the impression that he never had a good relation with Jayawardene, the SSC skipper, even though he is full of admiration for Atapattu.

''Marvan was always cool and composed, while Mahela was just the reverse. Of course things didn't go well there,'' he revealed.

He may have quit the game but Wasantha keenly follows cricket and has his view on a few things.

''This Lankan team is doing well and Mahela, I may not like the person, is closest to a Sri Lankan Sachin Tendulkar. They stand good chance in the World Cup,'' he said.

On Team India, Wasantha said Tendulkar is just cut above the rest, while it's next to impossible to breach Rahul Dravid's concentration.

''But the bat I like most is Yuvraj. I remember the U-19 World Cup final. He is an awesome hitter of the ball and it was just incredible the way he played. And mark my words, Kaif would make a good captain for India. He proved it in the U-19 World Cup and is a good thinker of the game,'' said the cricketer who is in touch with former colleagues like Ruchira Perera.

And like any other follower of the game, he is also intrigued by the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell episode.

''What happened to Ganguly? Why wasn't he brought here? I guess he was bit too aggressive in the field. But there are similarities between him and Arjuna Ranatunga. Both are men of strong likings and dislikings. They always had great trust in their comrades.

Ganguly will be missed, definitely. He is a character,'' added the youngster.

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