Deshabandu Roshan Mahanama – a gentleman to his finger tips | Daily News

Deshabandu Roshan Mahanama – a gentleman to his finger tips

Roshan Mahanama

It is interesting to delve briefly into Roshan Mahanama’s childhood in the late sixties at Ratmalana, playing street cricket with his brother Devaka and the neighborhood kids. As it happens, these kids, annoyed the neighborhood because their windows were smashed now and then and Roshan”s father Dr Upali Mahanama with his tact and diplomacy was the peacemaker, many a time. Roshan’s elder brother was also a very talented cricketer who shone for Nalanda and his father also represented Nalanda in the late fifties. As a result cricket was in the family blood.

Nobody in his wildest dreams would have thought that this kid would rule the roost in school cricket, world cricket and after a premature retirement, from the playing fields to become an ICC Elite Panel Match Referee. One thing in Roshan shines like a beacon, and that is his modesty. It is truly great since he has achieved so much in such a short time. There is no better role model than Roshan Mahanama for the young cricketers not only from Ananda and Nalanda but islandwide, to emulate.

It is worth taking the readers to where he started after street cricket. In 1976, Roshan was picked to bat at no.3 for the Nalanda under 12 side. As a nine year old, during a match against Ananda, Roshan the star bat of the side was going well scoring 30 runs when he was struck under the eye by a fast rising delivery from an Anandian pace bowler. Blood started pouring from the injury. He had to come back to the pavilion to attend to his severe injury. He showed his guts when he went into bat after two more wickets fell, and won the match for Nalanda.

In 1984, Roshan broke the big match record by scoring a mammoth 145 not out in five and a half hours. He was selected “The Schoolboy Cricketer,” “The Most Popular Schoolboy cricketer,” and “The Best Fielder” for 2 consecutive years.

The obvious talent he portrayed at school level at Nalanda was soon rewarded immediately afterwards when he was selected at the highest level for Test Cricket in 1986. Sri Lanka at that time was struggling to find an opening partner to Sidath Wettimuny. Although Roshan had never opened, debuting against Pakistan, he continued as an opener fitting the bill perfectly for 12 long years. Apart from been a top notch batsman, he was a world class fieldsman and he was an automatic choice in the Test team. Due to various reasons, he had his ups and downs and later on, being the gentlemen that he is, he bade farewell to his blossoming cricket career at only 32 years, with many years still left in the bag. These reasons are best described in his book “Retired Hurt.” Most of our star cricketers retired well past their prime, depriving youngsters from entering the Test arena and gaining invaluable experience.

Roshan Mahanama then became an ICC Elite Panel Match Referee. He was subsequently selected to the elite panel 1 of 8 match referees; he was the Match Referee for the inaugural “Pink Ball” Test Match between Australia and New Zealand, at Adelaide in December 2015.

Roshan is a thorough gent, who never had an ego problem and he put the country before self. He was tough enough, not to toe the line and he stood by his principles.

This again shows that his priorities were well in place and knew very well that a harmonious family life was more important than anything else. For all the budding young cricketers from both Ananda and Nalanda, Roshan Mahanama is the perfect example to emulate. I also admire him because; whenever he comes across a teacher or a coach of his, he never hesitates to worship. We are certain that Roshan Mahanama will never enter politics to sully his name.

Another great quality of Roshan, is his penchant for helping the poor. He has built a pre-school and a primary school in a remote village called Weheratenne where the people live below the poverty line. 

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