Romesh Kaluwitharana was an aggressive opening batsman | Daily News


Romesh Kaluwitharana was an aggressive opening batsman

At short notice I had to rush to catch up with Romesh Kaluwitharane, it was an arduous journey by tuk tuk bus and then again tuk tuk,I guess it’s the travails of a free lance journalist which is hard to stomach at the best of times.

Romesh’s house was adjacent to St Sebastian’s College Moratuwa, where he learnt his rudiments of cricket.He was a notable son of Moratuwa where cricket, Baila and furniture is still famous.The people are unique in character because they are by and large industrious.

Moratuwa is famous for its notable cricket players, such as Duleep Mendis, Susil Fernando Roger Wijesuriya Ajantha Mendis, Amal Silva, , Lahiru Thirimanne, Prasanna Jayawardene, Angelo Perera, Kusal Mendis, Vishwa Fernando Amila Aponso and Sadeera Samarawickrama.

Romeshe’s father was from Devundara who died when Romesh was young and his mother was the person who paved the way for Kalu to become famous and unfortunately she suffered from Parkinson’s disease and finally succumbed to it. After coming through the apprenticeship of junior cricket he ultimately joined the first eleven team at the raw age of 15, Romesh lamented that he missed playing in the big match against the Cambrians due to the fact that he was representing Sri Lanka in the under 19 World Cup in 1988 in Australia.

Rohan Weerakkody of St Joseph’s captained that team and his famous partner to be Sanath Jayasuriya opened batting.Romesh was playing for Sebestianites whilst at school and after leaving school he joined Moratuwa Sports club which had better facilities such as turf wickets.Prasanna Fernando who is a Banker by now was his captain then at Moratuwa.

Prior to the Benson and Hedges Tri Series Sri Lanka ,West Indies and Australia, at a practice match Romesh blasted the opposing bowlers in no uncertain manner and with that gem of an innings he entered the big league.

When inquired about how he dealt with the rising balls with such consummate ease, he was quick to point out his lack of inches was not a hindrance at all and he further added that the famous past greates such as Late Sir Donald Bradman,Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar , Brian Lara and our own Aravinda de Silva were also short in stature. Romesh was a class act in dealing with the short rising deliveries his clue was that one should pick the length of the ball early and to make a quick decision either to go front or back and with rapid bat speed , try to dominate the bowlers as much as possible. He was of the opinion that once one gets on top of the bowlers one has a distinct advantage over them. Romesh recalled that in the 1995 tour of Australia which was clouded with controversy, Darrel Hair called Murali for chucking , and when Murali started bowling leg breaks Hair still continued with his antics. Arjuna Ranatunga was disgusted with Hair’s actions that he called his charges and they moved out of the playing square but stayed within the limits of the boundary and after while wiser counsel prevailed and play resumed, however Murali did not bowl there after.The 65-year-old Hair, who famously no-balled Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in a 1995 Test.

Apart from being a controversial tour, some thing else of significance took place in that tour of 1955.The famous “smash, bang, wallop” opening combination was born in that instance Sri Lanka had to win all their 3 matches in a row and Arjuna Ranantunga and Aravinda de Silva got together and formulated a plan to have Romesh to open with Sanath and this plan worked wonders, Dave Whatmore the coach at that time was also aware of that. Romesh noted that he got a blistering 77, facing bowlers like Glen McGrath and Ian Fleming.

He mentioned the fact that running between the wickets with Sanath Jayasuriya was quite a task since Sanath was always too quick off the blocks and although Romesh himself was faster than average there were times that run outs occurred.

Romesh got 2 ODI hundreds and they were against Kenya, and England and he got 23, 50’s. in the longer format he got 3 hundreds and 9, 50’s.

The late Tony Grieg was a big fan of Kalu, they first met in that 1995 tour and that famous nick name “little Kaloo” was registered then.Romesh mentioned that Tony was a guy who really liked the Sri Lankan culture and he was a true ambassador to Sri Lanka.

Romesh had the good fortune to be at the non-strikers end of two of the most brilliant batsmen produced by Sri Lanka( this came from the horse’s mouth), Romesh mentioned that Sanath had his own style more unorthodox strong square of the wicket and his power coupled with timing was sublime. Aravinda on the other hand was more orthodox and he was a force to be reckoned with all types of surfaces and all types of bowlers. Romesh further noted that since cricket was not all that professional those days and as a result his commitment need not be that spot on, anyhow if Aravinda applied himself he would have been the best all time bat.As regards Arjuna Ranatunga he reminisced that he was strong headed and was quick in his analysis of the whole game and to top it off he had a brilliant team under his purview. Romesh was not just another player getting the basic coaching qualification and wearing the hat of a coach, but in Roshan’s own words he mentioned that he had coaching levels 1,2 and 3 from Australia, and coached Colts for 4 years and Sri Lanka’A’ for 6 ½ years and further added that 90% of the boys who are currently playing in the Sri Lankan side were guided by him.

He even argued with the higher ups to have Kusal Janith in the reckoning knowing very well that the boy was something else.The gentleman that he was Romesh did not want to mention the circumstances which led to his termination which came like a” bolt from the blue” lamented Romesh.

He was proud of the fact that this glorious game of cricket gave him so many opportunities through thick and thin and he is well of now.

Once he retired Romesh bought a 5 acre block of land at Udawalawe and with the park close by and a proper elephant orphanage he expanded it and now its thriving with 99% business been foreign concluded Romesh. Oh by the way Romesh’s son is not a cricketer, he was a Thomian now an undergrad in a local University and his wife is Shiromi. 

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