By Srian Obeyesekere
To be a phantom with the bat setting up a few first class world records such as the most number of sixes (50) in the concluded 2020 Sri Lanka Cricket Major League Tier ‘A’ Super Eight Tournament and 19 sixes in an innings, the world record for the third highest number of sixes in the same tournament in 2019 when he scored the fastest first class 200 and 250 versus the Ports Authority are certainly derring-do feats that has set apart Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the BRC captain. Still breathtaking are the left hander’s twin centuries against NCC a few weeks ago, the second a hurricane back to the wall 98-ball110 laced with 8 sixes and 5 boundaries in the wake of his first innings 82-ball 115 decorated with 6 sixes and 12 boundaries.
Significantly, in these serial type of cameo knocks that has decorated the hard hitting former Royal College captain in a hail of runs Bhanuka has made the point that he is a potential Test match candidate despite being considered by the selectors as an ODI and T20 batsman.
In an exclusive interview with Sri Lanka Cricket website srilankasrilankacricket.lk , the 28-year old BRC skipper says, ‘I am so overjoyed to have found out that it is the highest number of sixes world record in first class cricket having researched on the available statistics.’ He follows up declaring his intentions that ‘my real cricket dream is to play for Sri Lanka in the Test format, and I believe I’ve proved that I’m worthy test match material going by my run making statistics having scored 850 runs this season as well as 800 runs in 2019.’
Indeed, his aspirations are backed in a culmination of a run appetite that has soared in the phantom type of the elk that dare and come good given Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s run fronting in the concluded 2020 Major League Super Eight season. What is admirable in that vein is that he remains a batsman in the mindset who believes in playing his natural game which he inherited from his early school days in going after bowlers. He minces no words about it when he says, “I believe in batting to my natural flair to go after bowlers, but with the think cap of pressurizing them.” In making it stay that way, Bhanuka, a Senior Executive at John Keells, does make the point that he has role modeled after the hard hitting former Australian batsman Michael Hussey with whom he has interacted a few times, and former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
(Q). Your comments on your epoch 50 sixes in the concluded tournament?
(A). “I’m overjoyed to have done it. In fact I checked the available world first class statistics and found that no other batsman has hit 50 sixes in a tournament.”
(Q). Something reminiscent of the Sanath Jayasuriya macho in your batting?
(A). “I always believe in batting in my natural flair which I back myself with to deliver with the bat. I believe in always putting pressure on the bowlers. That is my style.”
(Q). Your twin centuries against the NCC were awesome considering the second one came batting at No.8 and when your side had lost half the side for 50 runs?
(A). “It was a difficult situation. In fact, I didn’t want to bat so late, but it was a team decision and I’m glad it paid off.”
(Q). It was some real big hitting sort of exhibition batting. You were not overawed by the situation?
(A). “No, because I backed myself to do it. It is my natural flair of batting.”
(Q). “What are your future plans?
(A). “Although I have been considered as an ODI player and T20 player at national level, my real dream is to make it to the Sri Lanka Test team and play for about 5 to 6 years. I believe I’ve backed it with the necessary runs. 850 runs this year and 800 runs last year.”
(Q). You’ve set up quite a number of records?
(A). Yes, apart from the 50 sixes, I equaled the record for the highest number of sixes in an innings of 19 in 2019 in the same tournament and it was the third highest in the world in first class cricket.
(Q). How would you describe your team’s performance this year?
(A). “I am quite pleased the way we played. At the start of the season we were not given much of a chance and regarded by some as a team that would be demoted. Given that feeling, we fared really well to beat one of the top teams in domestic cricket the SSC as well as Saracens SC and came close to beating NCC who escaped through their last pair hanging on.”
(Q). You’ve a role model in batting?
(A). Yes, Australia’s Michael Hussey whom I have had the fortune of meeting and discussing the game a few times. I’ve also followed Kumar (Sangakkara) aiya.”
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-