ICC Elite Panel Umpire Dharmasena commends Lake House | Daily News

ICC Elite Panel Umpire Dharmasena commends Lake House

Kumar Dharmasena
Kumar Dharmasena

Ex-Sri Lanka all-rounder and present ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumara Dharmasena commended the role played by Lake House to promote school cricket and said that the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title he won in 1989 was an inspiration for him to become an international cricketer.

As a promising schoolboy cricketer from Nalanda, Dharmasena had three extraordinary seasons filled with runs and wickets to emerge runner up in the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests in 1988 and 1990, apart from the main title he won in between (1989). He was the runner up to Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988) and Marvan Ataoattu (1990) in the main Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.

Dharmasena said winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1989 was the turning point in his career when he was aiming to enter the national team after his school career. “I had three good final seasons for Nalanda first X1 team. That enabled me to win the main title once and emerge runner up on two other occasions. Winning the title was one of the greatest moments in my career as a cricketer. It was a big inspiration. That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka,” Dharmasena said.

Commending the role played by the Lake House to recognize the talents of schoolboy cricketers for almost four decades, Dharmasena said winning a top award at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest boosts the confidence of schoolboy cricketers to go places. The awards I won at the event were a big boost for my career and I was determined to reach the top of the ladder. Ultimately, I achieved that dream with dedication,” he said.

Dharmasena feels that outstanding cricketers with exceptional performances and milestones are less today, compared to his era. He said that could be the reason that hardly any schoolboy cricketers have directly stepped into the Sri Lanka team in recent times, compared to his playing days.

Dharmasena is better known as a member of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Champion team, led by Arjuna Ranatunga, another proud recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title.

Having retired from competitive cricket in November 2006, Dharmasena pursued a career in umpiring. Having faced all umpiring examinations well, Dharmasena went on to make his international debut as an umpire in 2009.

Two years later, he was included in an 18-member panel for the 2011 World Cup in India. In the same year (2011), he was elevated to the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. He went on to win the coveted Umpire of the Year title at the ICC awards ceremony.

Commenting on the present Sri Lanka cricket team, Dharmasena said there is no need to push the panic button as every team has its own ups and downs. “I don’t feel anything wrong with the team or the talent we have. We are in a team building process and are experiencing a bad patch. Every team could face such situation,” he said. Dharmasena added that Bangladesh has an experienced team with most of the players hanging around for the past three years or more. “In contrast, we have often tried young talent and we should bounce back soon. It is also the duty of former cricketers too to help the team. We are willing to do so, if invited,” he explained.

He is of the view that the present day challenge for schoolboy cricketers is greater in their future careers and as a result, only a few outstanding cricketers would remain in the game once they leave school.

“Luckily, when I left Nalanda, Hatton National Bank (HNB) offered me employment and gave all the support to pursue my career as a club cricketer and then as an international cricketer. But present day schoolboy cricketers hardly get that sort of support,” he added.

Dharmasena, who turns 46 in three weeks’ time, was born on April 24, 1971 in Colombo. He is one of the best all-rounders produced by Nalanda College, Colombo.

He had three memorable school seasons during his last couple of seasons for the Campbell Place School. Following his successful school career, Dharmasena became a permanent member of the Bloomfield in the domestic inter-club premier league season, performing regularly with both the bat and the ball.

As an ICC Elite Panel Umpire, Dharmasena is eagerly looking forward to officiate in his 50th Test. “I have so far officiated in 45 Test matches and looking forward to that milestone. I do not have too many future plans as we are getting older I take it year by year. The ICC recognizes my work and I am happy with it,” he said.

In less than three years after winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title, young Dharmasena made his Test debut in Sri Lanka’s second Test against South Africa at SSC grounds in September, 1993.

Dharmasena made his Sri Lanka ODI debut on August 24, 1994 in the fifth ODI against Pakistan at Premadasa Stadium capturing 2 for 34 off nine overs.

He has aggregated 868 runs in 31 Tests with three half centuries and captured 69 wickets with 6 for 72 as his best innings analysis. Dharmasena had represented Sri Lanka in 141 ODIs, aggregating 1,222 runs with four half centuries.

He has captured 138 wickets in ODIs. Dhamasena’s off breaks, delivered with a slightly unorthodox action, has been a blessing to the Lankan team in many ODIs.

He is better known for his inspiring acts as a team man, motivating his fellow players even at difficult times. Hence, he was nicknamed ‘unanduwa’ by his teammates.

“If you don’t enjoy the game and dedicate yourself towards it, you won’t be successful. Believe in yourself, work hard with dedication and you will find success,” was his advice to the emerging schoolboy cricketers who keep dreaming of the Sri Lanka cap. 


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