In late 2016, all-rounder Dilhara Lokuhettige announced his retirement from one day international and test cricket but he currently is in the process of seeking permanent residency in Australia. The 36 year old has been involved with Tallangatta and Border Cricket is all set for its first extended run with an international player.
Initially, Lokuhettige’s retirement was associated with a bit of controversy as his services were rarely used by Sri Lanka Cricket. He was often called-up to patch the squad when players were down with injury.
However, Lokuhettige did quite well even when Sri Lanka found themselves in the losing side.
“During the 2013 campaign, Angelo Mathews was the captain. He had wanted the services of a batsman instead of an all-rounder, as he had assured that he would bowl 10 overs in a game, which would omit a need of a bowler. Although other all-rounders were given a chance, I was the only one who was ignored. The captain plays a big role in the team selection process and I believe that I had been deprived of a chance of playing. SLC didn’t approach me for a recall and thus I came into this conclusion,” said Lokuhettige prior to his retirement.
Despite registering to play district Twenty20 cricket in Australia, Lokuhettige was open for a place in the Sri Lankan Twenty20 side but permanent residency will remove this possibility in the near future. Lokuhettige has been involved with Tallangatta for some time and his desire to extend the relationship suggests that he’s quite happy with his decision.
Born on the 3rd of July 1980, LokuHettige Danushka Dilhara captained his school Asoka Vidyalaya from Under-13 to the first X1. With international umpire Ruchira Palliyaguru’s recommendation, Lokuhettige was introduced to the Sri Lanka Cricket fast-bowling academy.
Under Champaka Ramanayake, Lokuhettige made his debut in the Indian Oil Cup but injuries halted his progress. He was omitted from the squad for quite some time but Sri Lanka Cricket recalled him for Twenty20 cricket in 2007. Lokuhettige was naturally aggressive and Twenty20 cricket suited his all-round capabilities.
During his career, he played for Antonians Sports Club, Chittagong Kings, Combined Provinces, Galle Cricket Club, Kandurata Maroons, Moors Sports Club, Ruhuna and Uva Province. He also represented Sri Lanka in the Hong Kong sixes tournament.
Lokuhettige was quick to blame Angelo Mathews for his retirement but he was a tad unlucky as all-rounders kept swarming in for selection.
“When Mathews played, all-rounders like Perera, Farveez Maharoof and Dasun Shanaka played but I was not included when I was selected for the National Pool. All the all-rounders played more than 100 matches but I played only nine games. If I played more I could have served the country much more,” he added.
As expected, Lokuhettige’s departure will add another name to the long list of national cricketers who fled elsewhere for opportunity.
In a total of 11 international matches, Lokuhettige has over 100 runs and 8 wickets under his name. He never made his Test debut for Sri Lanka.
With just a couple of years left in his career, his return to the national Twenty20 side seems unlikely as the current selectors favour young blood over cricketers in their thirties.
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