Upul Chandana lightning quick fielder | Daily News


Upul Chandana lightning quick fielder

Upul Chandana
Upul Chandana

He was like greased lightning on the cricket field during the period 1993-2007, be it charging up field to cut a single, or swooping in from cover point to get a run out, he could even gauge the relevant speeds of the two runners and pick the end where the runner was more gullible so that he could effect a run out, every time on the field his anticipation was so good on either side whether to his rightside or left, his eagle eye would spot the ball and catch it clean as a whistle. I met the man himself Upul Chandana at his solid looking residence at Kohuwela. He still looked thin and wiry and his trade mark cheeky grin was also in evidence.

Chandana in no uncertain terms mentioned to me that he was mustard keen on fielding and once inside the ropes he always thought about attacking the ball rather than let the ball come to him. Be that as it may, when he was the 12th man in that golden era where we won the 1996 World Cup, he was itching to get to the field and was waiting for someone to get into the pavilion so that he could join the fray.

At the moment Sri Lanka Cricket has reached a nadir in all aspects of cricket. A guy like Chandana who had been hibernating coaching the youngsters for 10 long years which has been the base for youth cricketers should be propped up the ladder so that our fielders could learn a thing or two.

Chandana was born in Galle and schooled at Mahinda. He was the 9th in a family of many brothers one of them was a highly successful businessman excelling in wood carving and had a thriving business. He was the only member of his family to play cricket. Starting at Mahinda College Galle, under13 he went up to the under19 side, thereafter he joined Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club as most of the young budding cricketers did then, Champaka Ramanayake, Dileepa Wickremasinghe and a few others helped him to gain entry to the Wanathamulla club where he played with the likes of Muthiah Muralitharan, Niroshan Bandaratillake and Chandika Hathurusingha who captained their under 23 side which won the Yellow Pages Champions Trophy.

Now that our cricket has reached a setback, there is hardly any time to do major changes at the up and coming World Cup lamented Chandana, however he hoped that at least they will pull their socks up to do well in the end.

Even though the top team has not done well Chandana wished the backup teams such as the Emerging team and the “A” team who were doing well and advised the players to forget the past results and to play for the country. When he entered the playing arena he was determined to win for the sake of the team. He was of the opinion that if someone was reluctant to toe the line he should be shown the door even if that person was the best player and he stated that once a decision was made to take disciplinary action against a certain player they should not reverse it but carry it out without wavering so that the player knew that they meant business.

Chandana was of the view that SLC had a good set of coaches qualified at level 3 judging by the performance of the Emerging and the Under 19 teams guided by home made coaches. We have a local coaching set up which is highly effective where they do the levels 0, 1 and 2.

Chandana at present is in charge of the Sri Lanka under 19 team as the unsung fielding coach and Hashan Tillakaratne and Chaminda Vaas are the others in the set up.

Chandana has been the under 19 fielding coach for the last 10 years and has shown good results. A classic example was Kusal Mendis. When Chandana took Kusal under his wing he was a ’keeper but then he became a brilliant fielder anywhere in the park. He had other charges as well in Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella and several others who play at national level now. In just a short period Chandana has done wonders to them.

He stated that for the whole system to function smoothly the coaches had to do a good job not only in fielding but in batting and bowling as well. Chandana said by being the No. 1 under 19 team in Asia was not enough but we should aim even higher to become the No. 1 under 19 side in the world. His present job is hard he pointed out because in a short period of time say one and a half years he cannot produce the real article. Another tough issue for the fielding coach was that he had to deal with the whole squad of 15 players. Another case in point was that school cricket should pay more attention to fielding. The modern game has many unorthodox shots such as the reverse sweep and Dilscoop and hence we needed all round fielders to block all the large variety of shots. Therefore fielding is of utmost importance.

Chandana was a cricketer who never rested on his comfort zone and who always raised his bar by trying to do the impossible.

2018 – India’s under 19 tour to Sri Lanka - The two 4day games - 9 catches and 4 run outs and in 5 ODI’s - 12 catches, 3 stumpings and 2 run outs.

2018 - Asia Cup in Bangladesh -23 catches and 5 run outs.

2018 - Bangladesh under19 tour to Sri Lanka- 14 catches, 1 stumping.

2019- Australia under 19 tour to Sri Lanka -3 day game -10 catches, 3 ODI’s - 9 catches, 3 stumpings, 3 run outs.

This is only a summary of what he has performed over the last 10 years, although he has done much more which has not been highlighted.

Chandana stated that we have good talent in our country if guided in the correct way we can reach the glory of the 1996 team of which team he was a member. He is the ideal example for budding young cricketers.

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