Hockey aided Lahiru Kumara to cricket
- By Farhan Uvais
- Updated: January 10, 2017
I am pretty pleased with the effort. The pitch was outstanding and the fielders were superb too snapping up all the catches. So, really pleased with what I did today. Hashim Amla’s wicket is the best of all the wickets because it was a very good delivery and to beat him all ends up was really sweet – Lahiru Kumara.
Sri Lanka’s newest addition, quickster Lahiru Kumara made a tremendous difference after being included in the 2nd Test against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town earlier this week. He was selected in place of youngster Dushmantha Chameera who went for a few runs in the 1st Test.
Sri Lanka lost the second Test by quite a margin but Lahiru Kumara’s bowling performance was something to admire. He surprised everyone by bagging 6 for 122 in 25 in the first innings. Quinton De Kock was his only victim in the second innings.
His wickets in the first innings were of Hashim Amla, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma and Vernon Philander. Kumara absolutely enjoyed the wicket of Hashim Amla as the ball jagged back a great deal.
Despite being destined to become a frontline fast bowler, cricket was not Lahiru Kumara’s first source of affection. Born in Kandy on the 13th of February 1997, Chandradasa Brahammana Ralalage Lahiru Sudesh Kumara was a strong hockey play for his school Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya. It certainly did take a great deal of intervention to put him on course to become a fine fast bowler for Sri Lanka.
“One day, I was playing a hockey game for my school and got hit on my neck by the hockey stick. I was in the hospital and by the time I returned home my mum had thrown out all the hockey equipment. That was the end of my hockey and then I randomly started playing cricket. Eventually, I got picked for the school team. Then I went on to tour Malaysia with the Sri Lanka Under-15 team and that was the real start of my cricket career,” said Lahiru Kumara.
After his time at Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya, Kumara was called up to tour England with the national Under 19 outfit. Compared to the other lot, Kumara had very less experience in first class cricket.
However, Kumara made great use of the conditions to complete an impressive spell of bowling against England U19. He finished with figures of 11 for 134. He was immediately confronted and selected for the national tour to Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka, known for producing world class spinners, often generated bowlers who can swing the ball a great deal. However, almost every swing bowler lacked the ability to generate lethal pace. Kumara was different. He is certainly on his way to clock 150kph at the age of 19.
“He’s bowling 140kph plus, you know? He’ll bowl 150 very soon. He’s just 19-plus and he’s learning. To get six wickets here against one of the best teams – he bowled some brilliant balls. If he can get more consistency with that length, he can be a very good bowler. The pace has come from genetics, so he’s always had that. But if he keeps improving general fitness, strengthening and conditioning work, he will get there. Especially when you’re at 23 or 24, your body becomes fully matured. That’s the time they’ll bowl fast,” said Sri Lanka’s fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake.
Lahiru Kumara will most certainly feature in Thursday’s third and final test in South Africa.