Hemantha Boteju- a versatile cricketer | Daily News

Hemantha Boteju- a versatile cricketer

He was a tall well built, square shouldered soft spoken ex Sri Lanka player, who had many outstanding feats to his credit. He recalled that he was the only full-fledged graduate to represent Sri Lanka and apparently he has a BA(special) in International Relations, he also pointed out that Jehan Mubarak whom I had the good fortune to interview recently too had a degree but not a special. It was also interesting to note that he together with, Jehan Mubarak and Kumar Sangakkara were all batch mates at The Colombo University. He mentioned the fact that Kumar unfortunately had to abandon his studies after six months due to various other commitments. However I would like to step out of theme and congratulate Kumar Sangakkara for his wonderful achievement. The author would also like to point out that all these guys had something special in them and that was class. Back on track this guy had written his own biography in Sinhala and also a book of poems. He is none other than Hemantha Boteju who played for Thurstan and blazed a trail as an outstanding all-rounder

This gifted all-rounder was in the reckoning to represent Sri Lanka and was in the squad for the 1999 World Cup when Bruce Yardley was the coach, who insisted that a Fast Bowling all-rounder was the need of the hour. Any how be that as it may and Hemantha was left out of that World Cup tour.

Hemantha recalled that he took the right decision in branching out to umpiring. Incidentally his father Daya Boteju was a first class cricketer and a first class umpire and according to Hemantha his father who represented Maharaja’s still holds a World Record shared by Duleep Mendis and 6 others which was a double century of which 100 runs were scored in singles. Hemantha inspired by his father diligently rose up the umpiring ladder. He was also fast tracked by The Cricket Board, noted Hemantha and at present he is in the emerging panel of umpires together with three others.Hemantha mentioned to me that Kumar Dharmsena is in the elite panel, followed by Ruchira Palliyaguru then there are others such as Raveendra Wimalasiri,Lyndon Hannibel and Ranmore Martinez. Hemantha recalled that there are 12 elite umpires in the World and Kumar Dharmasena is the no 1 out of the lot.

By the way our cricketers who are to represent our ailing country at the impending ICC World Cup 2019 are at a low ebb still it’s interesting to note that three Sri Lankans have done our country proud and they are suave Kumar Sangakkara being the president elect of the MCC, Ranjan Madugalle(who hardly gets a mention) for his tireless work behind the scenes as the Chief Match Referee and Kumar Dharmasena diligent as ever been the no1 in the elite panel of umpires.

Hemantha’s 207 which he made against Prince of Wales is still a school record. He has played top level cricket at Bloomfield for five years, CCC for five years, Moors for five years, Lankan CC for three years and Sebastianites for one year, he has done the club circuit for 19 long years.

Almost all the past Sri Lankan cricketers with whom I had the pleasure of interviewing opted to coaching, however Hemantha had other ideas, he noted that coaching had no job security quoting “when Dave Whatmore coached Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team and he could not succeed in the following year he was unceremoniously shown the door.”His point of view is that if one cannot transfer one’s knowledge to lazy people there is no point in continuing.

Umpiring Hemantha points out is an individual job where more effort you put in the more you get.As we all no umpires job is not a cushy job where as the commentators have the liberty to express themselves no holds barred.The poor umpire has to stand in the hot sun all day and keep their concentration going for long periods, one mistake and that’s it no mercy the whole World will point their finger at you instead of the umpire pointing the finger at the batsman.

Hemantha is still only 41 years old and he is determined to become an umpire in the elite panel, it was a pleasure interviewing a guy who showed no malice to anybody even if they stood in his way. Hemantha also had a word of praise for Anusha Samaranayake and he was of the view that we have good home grown coaches but unfortunately that “colonial hangover” where the Suddha culture is still in bred and had got in the way. 


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