Rambukwella - from bowler to star batsman
How he fared this season:
72 v Richmond, 48 v Isipatana, 58 and 68 v St. Anthony's Kandy, 56
and 50 v Nalanda, 110 v St. Joseph's, 37 v Ananda, 65 v Dharmaraja, 103
v St. Peter's, 100 v Maliyadeva, 27 and 165 v S. Thomas' Mount Lavinia
The highest individual scorers in the Royal Thomian Big Match series
197 S. Warnakulasuriya (Royal) in 1980
184 D. Mendis (S. Thomas) in 1972
165 A. Polonowita (Royal) in 1996
165 F. Saleem (S. Thomas) in 2009
165 R. Rambukwella (Royal) in 2010
162 N. Mazahir (S. Thomas) in 2007
161 A. Peiris (S. Thomas) in 2007
160 n.o - C. J. Fernando (Royal) in 1971
158 n.o, - R. J. Reid (S. Thomas) in 1956
151 n.o, - N. Seibel (S. Thomas) in 1936
* Full name: Ramith Laksan Bandara Rambukwella
* Born: 1991 September 8, Kandy
* Current age: 19 years
* Parents: Keheliya Rambukwella and Kusum Rambukwella
* Batting style: Left hand opener
* Bowling style: Right arm of spinner
* Major teams: Royal College, SSC, Western Province, Colombo District
* First Eleven matches: 27
* Innings: 26
* Runs: 1102
* Highest score: 165
* 100s: 3, * 50s: 6 * Wickets: 26
* Best figures: 4 for 43
* Catches: 18
He launched his career as a promising fast bowler before switching to
off spinners following a serious illness that nearly shattered his
dreams of becoming a top schoolboy cricketer.
He made a comeback after a lapse of one year and then changed his
role to a bowling all rounder and made steady progress while
representing the Under 15, 17 and later on with the Second XI and the
First Eleven teams with a fare amount of success.
Big Match hero
After many years of pain and hard work Ramith Laksan Bandara
Rambukwella has finally come out of his age to emerge as a Big Match
hero with a magnificent knock of 165 for Royal College in the 131st
Battle of the Blues encounter at the SSC ground. This performance had a
great amount of significance as he joined a select band of cricketers to
have scored more than 150 runs and ended up as the joint third highest
individual scorer in the series.
And who knows if not for Royal intentions of an early declaration in
the second innings Rambukwella would have certainly entered the record
books as the first batsman to complete a double hundred in the Royal
Thomian Big Match series.
Nevertheless his brilliant knock of 165 is now part of history and it
was an innings that no doubt brought a new meaning to his career
prospects. Rambukwella was always Royal premier batsman this season but
his presence was somewhat overshadowed by two Sri Lanka youth caps
Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Kithruwan Vithanage.
However Rambukwella had the opportunity of playing the role as Royal
key batsman following the absence of skipper Rajapaksa and Vithanage who
were on national duty for most of the time.
Coach Gamini Perera was also more concerned with the absence of these
two senior players and decided to promote Rambukwella in the batting
order. The early days were really tough as the pair worked for extra
hours at the nets while getting use to the finer points of the game.
The results came almost immediately as Rambukwella struck twin half
centuries in successive matches against St. Anthony's College (58 and
68) and Nalanda College (56 and 50) respectively.
Thereafter he began to grow in confidence and realized the fact that
he need to convert these fifties into big hundreds.
He performed exactly that mid way during the season when he hammered
centuries against St. Joseph's College (110), St. Peter's College (103)
and Maliyadeva College Kurunegala (100).
He also fulfilled one of his childhood dreams of scoring a century
against St. Joseph's and St. Peter's during the same season. Even then
he went into the Big Match against S. Thomas College at the backdrop of
some uncertainty after having failed to make an impact in his last five
He went into bat while under tremendous pressure and was dismissed
for 27 in the first innings. But the situation was tailor made for
Rambukwella in the second innings with the hot and humid conditions
helping the stroke makers.
But more importantly he prefers to be in an attacking position and he
justified it by smashing the Thomian bowlers to all parts of the SSC
during his epic innings. After conceding a surprise first innings lead
Royal needed to bounce back and Rambukwella was the ideal person to
launch a counter attack.
No doubt there was a great amount of risk involved in this effort but
the dashing left hander was prepared to take up the challenge at a time
when his team-mates were somewhat reluctant to fire their cylinders.
Ramith Rambukwella waving his bat to the crowd
Pictures by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi
His complete dominance and authority was quite clear considering the
fact that more than one hundred runs came through boundaries in the form
of five sixes and 21 fours. He also had the credit of completing one
thousand runs for the current season during that innings. This could
also be one of the most entertaining innings in the Big Match history
where he faced only 148 deliveries.
This has been a tremendous turn of events for Rambukwella from last
year where he was considered as an off spinner and a dependable lower
order batsman. No doubt he was vying for honours with a star studded
line up and had to be content while playing the supporting role.
But once he gained the much needed experience and mastered the art of
shot selection he fell into a class of his own as runs begun to flow
from his blazing bat. The sweep shot against the spinners is one of his
favourite that has earned him a lot of runs in that area although he
prefers to drive through the cover region for the fast bowlers.
Rambukwella has been a consistent run getter even in junior cricket
and while representing the Provincial team. He made a sensational start
to his school cricket career when he returned amazing figures of seven
wickets for five runs in an Under 11 fixture against Trinity College
Kandy as a budding fast bowler.
He went on to become the vice captain of the College Under-14 team
having first learnt his basics under the guidance of veteran coach
Lionel Mendis at the NCC. Thereafter he came under the supervision of
several other reputed coaches in the fame of W. A. N. Silva, U. S. C.
Perera, Badra Seneviratne, Nalliah Devarajan, Chulaka Amarasinghe,
Nelson Mendis, Hemal Mendis and Gamini Perera.
However tragedy struck for Rambukwella as he was forced to rest for
one full year following an illness that almost ruined his career. But he
came back through sheer determination and regained his form by scoring
heavily in the Under 15 and Under 17 limited over tournaments.
He batted at number three and scored one century and seven fifties in
the Under 15 tournament and then scored over 400 runs from eight matches
in the Under 17 tournament as an opening batsman.
He also had a fantastic average of 89 in the Under 15 Provincial
tournament where he scored two centuries and two fifties. Meanwhile
Royal coach Gamini Perera showered full of praises on Rambukwella's
batting heroics that brought them closer towards forcing a result, from
where we were on the second day at tea time we needed a batting
performance like he did for us to put pressure back on S. Thomas.
To me this is one of the most destructive innings I have ever seen in
a Royal Thomian Big Match. He batted with authority, batted according to
the situation and he not only got us back into the game he also put us
in a winning position with that knock.
Perera stated that he is not surprised with the performances of
Rambukwella this season having seen him perform well even during junior
cricket. In his junior cricket he had opened batting and so he always
had the technique and the talent to do what he did.
But unfortunately last year because so much of batsmen in the side he
probably did not get enough chances to prove himself because he batted
at number nine or ten.
This year obviously without Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Kithruwan Vithanage
someone had to put their hand up to score runs during the season.
So we thought with Ramith's capabilities it is better off him going
in the top of the order and take up the responsibility and show the
The Royal coach also predicted a bright future for Rambukwella who in
fact will be captaining the First Eleven team during the next season. He
has got all the attacking shots and he also has a good defence and
that's what you need as an opening batsman.
More importantly he knows where the runs are and so he knows how to
vary his shots and he knows where the fielders are. That's a good
quality of a solid batsman.
Gamini Perera also noted that the team comes first and not the
individual brilliance after Rambukwella came closer of becoming the
highest individual scorer in the Royal Thomian Big Match series.
We never play for individual performances. I think he was not
thinking of the record when he was batting at the middle either. We were
setting ourselves a target to give S. Thomas and once we achieved that
whether the batsman is on 199 or 99 it does not matter and the team