Hasantha Fernando-an all-rounder of repute | Daily News


Hasantha Fernando-an all-rounder of repute

He played in the mid- nineties where Sri Lanka was having a star studded team with Arjuna Ranatunga at the helm and they won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996.This was one reason why this brilliant all-rounder could play in only 2 Tests and 7 ODI’S in that era and the other was due to the partiality of the selectors. In first class cricket he has scored 8300 runs and taken over 350 wickets.

I managed to corner this dusky marketing Executive at Sampath Bank head office through the good offices of Shantha Kalawitagoda yet another Ex Sri Lanka cricketer. Hasantha Fernando in appearance as well had the typical Moratuwa look, ebony in complexion and tough looking.

He was born in Horetuduwa and his father was a Mechanic and not a carpenter. Soft spoken Hasantha mentioned that he was contracted till recently with the SLC because he was playing Division A cricket. At 39 years of age he still looked like a fit West Indian cricketer.

In 1999 he captained Prince of Wales. Then he proceeded to Melbourne and played club cricket for two years.He found out that he was too good for that club side and his colleagues advised him to return home and try to play for his country.Hasantha came back and played for Sebestianites and got a couple of fifties and a century and bagged two five wicket hauls. Then Selectors approached him and said that he had the potential to represent his country, then he joined Chilaw Marions and whilst there he was offered a job by Thilanga Sumathipala to which he is still greatful.He performed well in the provincial tournament and then he got the best call in his life and the caller mentioned that he was selected to the Sri Lanka squad to play in the Test series against Bangladesh and the caller was the manager of the team Ajith Jayasekera.

. In 2003 he toured with the Sri Lankan team was to play in a Triangular Tournament with Pakistan and South Africa.In the same year he was in the squad for the ICC championship where we became joint champions with India.After that they toured South Africa and in the Johannesburg Test he played as a fast bowling all rounder. They were grooming for the World Cup and the selection committee was headed by the late Guy De Alwis, then with the change of The Sports Minister the selection committee was changed due to no apparent reason, a peculiar situation due cronyism which prevails even now. Hasantha fell out of favour with the new set of selectors headed by Lalith Kaluperuma.

In 2007 for The World Cup he was brought back to the squad but unfortunately that was the last time he represented his mother country, however he retired from first class cricket in September 2018.Unfortunately unlike in other countries, talented cricketers are not given continuity, they are at the mercy of the Sports Ministers and the Selection Committees.

Hasantha has played minor county cricket in East Angia in England for ten years including club cricket in Lancashire. His role was to play and coach and during his tenure there he qualified as a level 2 coach .(Child protection was also stressed in coaching school boys, and they were not allowed to touch a child this was to prevent children from child abuse, unfortunately this happens in Sri Lanka as well but the laws are lenient. He has coached at the Badurueliya Sports club and hopes to open his own Academy.) He mentioned that every year about 50 cricketers play cricket in England and most of them when they miss selection at International level. However now the trend is to go to Australia with a view of gaining citizenship there.

The present day national cricketers are paid handsomely much more than in his days stated Hasantha, which is good and bad, he stressed that the good part is most of them come from middle class background and there is steep elevation in their social status but unfortunately most of them lose focus on their cricket careerand get into the razzmatazz in society and can get vulnerable to match fixing. Hasantha pointed out that when he walks into the dressing room the camaraderie is no more and they are looking at their smart phones engaging in face book etc. No interaction at all between the players.And a another short coming Hasantha noted was that the young cricketers are not playing for the team but for themselves.

Hasantha lamented the fact that Dinesh Chandimal was left out of the squad and at least he would have been in the Test squad. Chandimal has already joined the Army and he was surprised.

Forth coming T20 WorldCup 2020 in Australia

Hasantha was of the view that since it’s T 20 is fast moving, a young squad will be better and Lasith Malinga should lead, the batting order should be Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Oshada Fernando, Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya De Silva, Isuru Udana, Dushmantha Chameera, Wanidu Hasaranga, Shehan Jayasuriya and Lahiru Kumara.

The policy adopted by the SLC to chop and change coaches is detrimental to the national coaches and it’s doubtful whether the foreign coaches will be keen to come. Geoff Marsh was asked to go mid stream and SLC had to pay him a huge sum to oblige his contract. Hathurusinghe’s case is the same stated Hasantha.

Hasantha said our world Cup squad for 2019 had shortcomings, he said the selection of Jeevan Mendis, Jeff Vandersay and Siriwardene was useless he also feels that for them to get selected there were some undercurrents going on. He also said that”it looks like if Asantha De Mel is taking decisions by himself.”

He is of the opinion that the provincial system should be promoted which is happening, and Hasantha would like to get invoved in the Selection Committee’s in an honorary capacity if invited to do so.

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