Piyal Wijtunge, a top class spinner from Kandy | Daily News

Piyal Wijtunge, a top class spinner from Kandy

Piyal  Wijtunge
Piyal Wijtunge

One of the finest bowlers to come out of Kandy is Piyal Wijtunge, who is known as one of the most complete bowlers to come out of St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota.

He has won several games for the school and clubs he played. This former Antonian left arm spinner was elected one time president of the Old Antonian’s Cricket Wing.

He played for St. Anthony’s College under several captains - Damian Nadarajah, Ruwan Kalpage, Suresh de Alwis for four seasons.

He was a fine left-arm leg-spinner and middle order batsman. He toured with the Sri Lanka Schools under 18 team to England in 1988 and also was a member of the schools team which toured Bangladesh for the Youth Cup competition. After the tour, he came in for high praise from K.M.

Nelson who managed the Sri Lanka team. He also went on the Shajah tour as a schoolboy.

After his school cricket career, he played for Old Antonians SC, Kandy CC, Kandy District, and from 1990 to 94 for SSC, 195 to 96 Blomfield A CC, 1998 Moors SC.

He is a left arm slow bowler and batted right hand. He is a former Sri Lankan cricketer who played in one Test in 1993.

Though he was not successful in the international arena, he was an active member in the domestic arena, where he played 65 first class matches and took 161 wickets.

During his days three schoolboys from St Anthony's College played in the same team and then went on to represent Sri Lanka.

That is Piyal Wijetunge, a left-arm orthodox slow bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan who terrorized batsmen from other schools and the other member of the trio was Ruwan Kalpage.

He has served as a spin bowling coach for the Sri Lanka National team, where he trained international players and also worked as spin bowling coach at SLC for more than a decade.

Piyal who was born in Badulla ,grew up in Kandy, was also coached by famous Antoanin coach Sunil Fernando, whose prime lessons to his spin trainees were “concentration, hard work” and the dead cert that “if you want to be a good spinner, there are no shortcuts”.

Already spin-friendly, pitches all over Sri Lanka tend to wear down over a season into rank turners, giving average spinners bucketfuls of wickets and the selectors a headache as to how to separate quality from quantity. It is why curators at the national training centre are told to produce good batting wickets, to test the trainee spinner’s mind and skills.

It gives Wijetunge and his coaches the best chance to convert possible shortcuts into the long haul.

As a cricketer he gave his best with the ball to his school and clubs he played. He hails from a sporting family - father Douglas and uncles Lionel and Oscar Wijetunge have played football for Kandy and last named was one time Army and Defence Service’s goal keeper.