Dinesh Chandimal was earmarked as the next big thing in Sri Lanka. Lahiru Thirimanne was expected to be the next number three. But both of them have thwarted all the hopes the fans had placed on them. Whether they would come back is still a question, let alone living up to the expectations. Looking back at the history, we find that Chandimal and Thirimanne are not the first two to disappear after being the talk of the town.
Once the captain of the Sri Lankan under 19 team, Maharoof represented Sri Lanka at Under 15 and 17 level. He was expected to be one of the finest fast bowling all rounders. He had a very good ODI record, bowling with an average below 30 and smashing balls at the tail end of Sri Lanka’s innings. He was a pressure absorber who can stubbornly bowl good line lengths, which earned him the nickname “Glen McGrath of Sri Lanka”. Maharoof’s performance dwindled after 2009. He made a comeback in 2010 with a hat-trick and once again in 2012, but the emergence of Thsiera Perera made sure he stayed in the sidelines.
Kapugedera was exhumed as an exciting school boy cricketer by the selectors and was handed over a debut at the age of 18. Thought to be a future opener and a captaincy prospect, Kapugedera never made substantial scores to vindicate his place in the side. His last ball six against India and a 95 against West Indies were the only highlights of his abject career. He was an intrepid fielder at backward point and a useful medium pace bowler. He disappeared after Sri Lanka’s final defeat against India in 2011, but made a come back in 2012 and not surprisingly failed to impress yet again.
He was the exact carbon copy of Aravinda De Silva but only in the style of batting. He immediately impressed as a 19 year old when he made his debut. Just like his comrades though laden with immense talent he failed to convert it in to performances. His place in the side was never permanent as he kept on being picked and dropped. The highlight of his career may be his gritty innings in the middle order for Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup, but soon he found himself out of the side. He was called back to the 2011 World Cup Squad but another customary failure meant that he was ostracized after the tournament. He came back against Australia the same year with a match winning fifty, but the need to nurture young blood saw him permanently out of the side.
Born in Washington DC, a son of a Scientist and a National Swimming Champion Jehan Mubarak played for Sri Lanka Under 15, 17 and 19. When he made his debut in 2002 he was looked upon as a possible number 3 batsman competing with the likes of Sanga. He immediately impressed with a 48 in South Africa under tough batting circumstances but like his colleagues he withered away. An excellent fielder and a useful off spinner, Mubarak never cemented his pace in the side nor did he have a permanent lay off. In 2009, due to the way he handled the Wayamba team, he was ear marked as a future captain. Amidst several chances he failed continuously. The only two highlights of his career were the four consecutive sixes he hit against Kenya when Sri Lanka recorded the highest T20 score in WT20 2007 and the brace of sixes against Brett Lee to power Sri Lanka to the next round in the WT20 2009. The disheartening factor about Mubarak is that he continues to amass runs in the domestic level but fails to do that at the level that matters.
He was the first to be called the next Jayasuriya when he started playing aggressive cricket at domestic level, which helped him pile up runs at an astounding rate. He was a number 3 promoted to open the batting. He was one of the many batsmen who was tried and discarded to replace Atapattu at the helm of Sri Lanka’s batting order. Against a background of a lot of expectations Udawatte failed continuously that his returns never justified his place in the side. Upul Tharanga’s emergence and Dilshan’s successful shift to the opening slot allayed his chance of making a comeback. Age by his side Udawatte is now a regular in the Sri Lanka A side.
Hailing from a low income family Akila Danajaya attracted a lot of controversy when he was named in the squad for WT20 2012, having not played for the under 19 team. Short in stature, tall in temperament Akila was first spotted by Mahela Jayawardane. Akila has an off break, a leg break, a carrom ball, a doosra and a googly in his quiver. All are delivered with a precise line and length. He showed his ruthlessness and doggedness when he completed all his four overs economically after having his cheek bone broken by a powerful blow on his face by a ball hit straight at him by a Kiwi batsman. He was economical through out the tournament and picked up crucial wickets. Seen as an off spring in the pedigree of Mystery spinners, he mysteriously lost his place in the side. He was sent back to the domestic level and though his numbers are startling, he hasn’t made a reappearance.
Hailed as the possible new ball pair to Chaminda Vass and as the next Harmisson, Nuwan Zoysa has done something at the test level which no other Sri Lankan bowler has achieved: a Test Hat- Trick which he attained against Zimbabwe. A tall left arm fast bowler, he could swing the ball at pace and could generate bounce that can trouble even the best. Just like the other fast bowlers his career had series of injuries but he kept making comebacks. His gradual loss in efficacy saw him out of the side. At the twilight of his career he transformed himself into a useful hard hitting, bowling all rounder, which brought him close to a T20 call up, but age and lack of consistency deprived him of such a chance.
Suraj Mohamed, after a good first class performance, became Suraj Randhiv when he was named in the squad for the Pakistan Test Series in 2009. The waning of Ajantha Mendis earned him a place in the ODI side, and since then Randhiv never really looked back. With a height of 6 foot, he delivered off breaks with a lot of top spin, troubling batsmen with both both bounce and turn. After Murali’s retirement he became a regular in the Test side but a little tweak to his action offset his potency pushing him to the sidelines. Sachithra Senanayake’s and Dilruwan Perera’s rise to the top level permanently sidelined him. He developed a doosra and used it to good effect in his short career.
Thilina Thushara made his debut in 2003 but failed to impress. He made a comeback in 2008 and formed a lethal new ball partnership with Nuwan Kulasekara. A bowler who hits the deck hard, Thilina Thushara pioneered in a Test series victory against Pakistan in 2009 together with Nuwan Kulasekera in the absence of Muralitharan. An injury forced him out of the side and a sudden burgeoning of fast bowling prospects in Sri Lanka meant that his career was all but sealed.
Thilina Kandamby had a prolific school career and when he made his debut in 2004 he failed to capitalise on the chances bestowed to him. He returned to the team in 2008 and this time he did enough to earn him a relatively permanent place in the ODI squad. Constant competition from Kapugedera and Samraweera and his inability to convert his starts to big scores resulted in his axing. He once again made a wierd return when he made his T20I debut as a captain in the absence of Dilshan which was his last game too. He had appreciable leadership qualities and was once the captain of the Sri Lankan A side. A need to breed young batsmen has guillotined his chances of making another return.