How Karunaratne changed the DNA of Sri Lanka team


Another series loss and therefore the prospects of a thrashing by the mighty South Africans in their own grounds loomed ominously on the horizon. Dimuth Karunaratne knew it had been futile to speak of winning a match, refrain the two-game series.Teams with a lot of acclaimed players have traditionally struggled in Republic of South Africa, a territory no Asian team has conquered over the years. however he needed to try to to one thing to assist his charges fight a decent battle in spite of the result. He mentioned this with Vice Captain Niroshan Dickwella and fostered a culture within which batsmen may categorical themselves and trust their instinct while not fearing consequences. That freedom helped them build history, beating Republic of South Africa 2-0.

The 30-year-old Karunaratne shared his insights on in AN interview with the Sunday Times, explaining however he had influenced the players, created the required setting and his own aspirations for the long run.

Q: berth came to you at presumably the toughest time with the team having counted six losses in seven games. however massive was your challenge as skipper?
A: This was whole sudden however a good honour to steer my country, a privilege not several get. i used to be excited at the chance. At an equivalent time, I knew the challenge ahead. we have a tendency to had been through a troublesome few months. consecutive series defeats had hurt the players badly and that they were in their own shells. There was such a lot pressure from among and outdoors to try to to higher. it had been not the most effective place to be. I needed to make the setting for individuals to share data and categorical themselves freely. So, on our thanks to Republic of South Africa from Melbourne, I had a talk with (Niroshan) Dickwella. we have a tendency to each in agreement that we want a modification within the team culture. we have a tendency to explained this to the team management in metropolis and that they responded well. The players got a lot of freedom on and off the sector, extended night curfews and these did them a world of excellent.

Q: You spoke of team culture. however dangerous was the prevailing one?
A: it had been terribly strict, virtually like what you get in an exceedingly faculty. terribly restrictive. i do know these rules were obligatory for our own sensible thanks to varied disciplinary problems within the past. however I don’t assume one ought to apply these across the board thanks to ills of some players. I don’t assume we must always try to stop the lifestyles of players as a result of some have victimised it. manage those that misuse the freedoms they get however let others get pleasure from as a result of they need a life removed from cricket. Let cricket be contend on the sector and not off the sector. this can be very necessary and that i didn’t see this throughout the previous couple of series.

Q: Was it that bad?
A: I’ll tell you one ideal that happened to ME throughout the Australian series. when play finished, I visited my area and every one I needed was to relax. however the sole issue that came to my mind was however i used to be troubled within the middle, however the bowlers were getting to come back at ME and every one of that. therefore despite the fact that the match starts at ten am next day, I had already started enjoying it. By the time you enter the center, you’re mentally exhausted. Such was the pressure we have a tendency to were in. These area unit things I needed to vary and that i managed to try to to therefore throughout the series in Republic of South Africa.

Q: You carried a depleted facet to Republic of South Africa. There was no Angelo Mathews, no Dinesh Chandimal and 3 of the frontline quicks were missing thanks to injuries. however laborious was this?
A: after all, the team didn’t have the large names. In a way, this was a blessing in disguise. of these kids needed to try to to was grab the chance. If you investigate the bowling facet, we have a tendency to had simply Suranga Lakmal. the remainder were new. I knew it had been getting to be powerful however I told the boys to relinquish it a decent fight in spite of the results.

We didn’t arrange for 5 days. we have a tendency to needed to play one session at a time and to win those very little sessions. If you’re taking the New Sjaelland and therefore the Australian series, we have a tendency to were obscurity close to them. This was our 1st arrange and that i assume we have a tendency to dead it fine. Players began to get pleasure from their freedom, started basic cognitive process in their talents and commenced trusting one another. The results took care of themselves.

Q: there have been reports the team was divided into camps that was pain Sri Lanka’s performances. however did you bring on unity?
A: This was vital. once the going was powerful, the players struggled to address pressure and didn’t categorical themselves as freely as they ought to have. They classified into very little cliques and this wasn’t ideal. What we have a tendency to did in Republic of South Africa was to bring all of them along, offer them a way of happiness. A WhatsApp cluster was created and that we sent out a message to everybody within the team asking them to affix for dinner. First day, we have a tendency to had regarding 5 individuals responding, future day we have a tendency to had regarding seven. some days later, we have a tendency to had everybody, together with the support workers, connexion for dinner. This, I thought, helped North American country gel as a team. we have a tendency to ne’er mentioned cricket throughout these outings.

Q: however did the team management,especially Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, reply to the changes you were wanting to bring in?
A: They responded practically and, while not their support, I don’t assume we have a tendency to may have brought within the culture modification among the room. Hathu is of course AN aggressive person. What I told him was, if he’s angry and needs to scold a player, don’t do this. Instead, I asked him to inform ME in order that I may pass the message across to the player. He responded well and have become a lot of of an acquaintance. once this happened, the players began to get pleasure from the liberty.

On the opposite hand, there has perpetually been a distance between players and officers. this might most likely ensue to the culture we have a tendency to area unit returning from. we have a tendency to area unit reserved and prefer to maintain that distance. i need North American country to be just like the Australians– free with them and treat them a lot of like friends and family instead of youngsters and masters in an exceedingly faculty.

Q: What did you tell the boys before the metropolis Test?
A: I needed them to get pleasure from the sport without fear regarding the ultimate outcome. I needed them to smile and feel relaxed and to not place pressure on themselves. there’ll be mistakes, like dropping catches, etcetera, however I needed to relinquish them sensible vibes and to not run down a player once a catch is born or once he gets bent a nasty shot or a misfield. Because, if that happens, we’ll lose the player for the remainder of the match. What I did and needed others to try to to was to back him instead, and this worked. we have a tendency to talked of the positives instead of the negatives. Yes, we have a tendency to did discuss areas wherever we have a tendency to went wrong however all of that was exhausted honestness and players took it well.

Q: Managing players is a crucial side of a captain. however did your manage your troops?
A: I even have contend underneath four captains and that i grasp specifically what they did right and wherever they went wrong. therefore I had a good plan of what I needed to try to to. I rallied everybody around ME and got their views in each necessary call I created on the sector, notwithstanding whether or not they were seniors or juniors within the facet. Sometimes, I virtually gave into their requests once putting fielders etc.

Q: however did the pressure of berth have an effect on your own game? (Karunatne had millions of thirty, 20, seventeen and nineteen in 2 Tests)
A:To be honest, it did have a sway on my very own performances throughout the series. however it had been not the sole reason. berth entails plenty of responsibilities and that i wasn’t wont to these. I had to try to to all that, like team conferences, selections, planning, facing media etcetera. therefore plenty of my time wad dedicated to those intricacies. i used to be a touch nervous facing media with everything that was happening around us–the allegations of match-fixing, our own performances, the Board problems and then on. Besides those, i feel the blow to my neck throughout the Australia series was haunting ME a touch. My foot movements and reflexes all delayed a touch. therefore of these positively had a sway on my very own performance. But, at the tip of the day, what was necessary was to win and that we did it in such dominant fashion.

Q: t one purpose, land were at 226/9 with seventy eight a lot of runs still required to win. Did you ever assume we have a tendency to may achieve a sensational win?

A: My gut feeling before the beginning of the fourth day’s play was that we might do one thing special. however once we were 9 down, i assumed it had been everywhere. i used to be still happy as a result of we have a tendency to had fought a decent battle and to lose by alittle margin against Republic of South Africa was no mean deal.

So before Vishwa visited bat, the sole issue I told him was to do and shield his wicket. I can’t tell him to try to to things that I, as a hitter, did not kill the center. After all, he was the smallest amount capable hitter within the facet. however I knew if Vishwa will hold on there, KJP (Kusal Perera) may do the duty as a result of he will simply collect twelve to sixteen runs in AN over while not abundant bother. it had been an incredible chase and hats-off to the 2 players for taking North American country through. I complimented Vishwa’s knock quite Kusal’s as a result of, if not for Vishwa’s bravery, it might are a unique story altogether.

Q: you’re somebody UN agency likes to compare yourself with peers and to do and improve your game to induce prior to them. As a captain, did you are attempting to emulate someone?
A: No. All I needed was to specialize in the team and build the changes i assumed were needed to become a competitive team. however as a player, I even have perpetually had AN idol. That has helped ME improve my very own game. I even have AN idol and build plans to surpass him. Once I reach it, i buy another Idol. The cycle continues.

Q: What if you can’t reach your goals?
A: Everything around ME was a dream on behalf of me as kid. I ne’er had any of those (pointing towards the attractive house and therefore the SUV within the garage). once I was a toddler, I needed a bicycle and that i bought one. Then I needed land to create a house. I needed to shop for a automotive. when a while, I went for the whole i favor. Sometimes, it takes time to understand those dreams however that actually keeps ME going. I even have ne’er given abreast of my dreams.

Q: Your dream in cricket?
A: I ne’er had any dream of captaining land and that i had the honour of leading the facet to a historic win in Republic of South Africa. But, as a jock, I even have set myself some targets. In check cricket, i’m wanting to get ten,000 runs and twenty to twenty five tons of. i do know it’s an enormous challenge, given my age, however it’s not not possible. Also, i might like to play a hundred check matches for the country. i favor to earn a spot within the ODI team.

Q: Despite solid performance as a check opener, why does one assume the selectors have repeatedly omitted you from the ODI side?
A: I went out of the ODI facet with AN injury throughout the 2015 tourney. My sort of play could also be totally different to it of a number of the highest ODI cricketers in world cricket at this time. you’re taking Bharat, Australia or European country, they play legion T20 cricket round the globe which has helped them to be terribly aggressive in their batting. however if you investigate our facet, we have a tendency to don’t have players like that. therefore our approach has got to diverge. If we have a tendency to began to hit the ball from ball one, like some countries do nowadays, we have a tendency to area unit certain bother. as a result of if we have a tendency to lose wickets up front, it’ll be tough for North American country to travel for a giant score. {this is|this is often|this will be} why we want somebody UN agency can bat through the innings. If you’re taking nice Kumar (Sangakkara), his strike rates was between 60-70 till the fortieth over of the match and solely then did he begin to accelerate. however the advantage was that, once he was batting, different players may bat around him. i feel this can be the approach we want to follow instead of attempting to try to to what different groups do.

Q: Your best check innings therefore far?
A: i feel it had been the eighty five runs I scored against Australia at Sydney Cricket ground against the world’s best seam attack in Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird. I had ne’er visaged such AN dire bowling attack in my life before and neither had I contend ahead of a such a huge crowd extraordinary fifty,000 people. i need to give thanks Mahela (Jayawardene) for the words of encouragement he gave ME at that point. He said, “Don’t worry regarding being born. though you fail, simply play your game”. that actually helped ME construct that innings. I simply went out and expressed myself. i used to be not troubled regarding the reputations these quick bowlers carried. I contend my game and therefore the result was eighty five runs off a hundred balls. that tiny issue Mahela told ME very helped ME and this can be the liberty I gave the boys in Republic of South Africa.

Q: area unit you wanting forward to the county stint you’ve got got?
A: European country may be a place wherever I even have struggled the foremost. Even up to now, I don’t perceive the way to comply with those varied conditions. therefore once Mushtaq Ahmed offered ME a contract, i used to be excited to just accept it. If you investigate it from a strictly money perspective, I don’t assume I even have the most effective deal however my intention was to realize expertise.

Q: Kusal Mendis is perhaps the most effective young player within the world however has been through a rough patch. however did you inspire him?
A: One issue I unbroken reminding him was that he scored over a thousand check runs last year, solely behind Virat Kohli of Bharat. I don’t assume he has unsuccessful in check cricket. he’s one UN agency has done plenty for the country throughout his short career. Besides his batting, his fielding at slip is outstanding. I don’t assume anyone will take catches with such management in this position like Kusal. he’s terribly versatile. His drawback is he has confused his check cricket with 2 limited-over formats. He has not done that well in limited-over formats. On the opposite hand, he has been attacked heavily on social media. He was troubled regarding those comments and it place pressure on him. I may see it from his visual communication. we have a tendency to all knowledge proficient he’s however he lacks confidence and temperament. Given his age, he has matured plenty as a jock. however he has been underneath tremendous pressure. therefore I unbroken reminding him of the player he’s and every one that’s required is one sensible innings.