By Srian Obeyesekere
It has indeed been a type of roller coaster ride for young Duvindu Sachin Tillakaratne, the son of former Sri Lanka cricketer Hashan Tillakaratne, who became the highest wicket taker with 61 scalps during the concluded Sri Lanka Cricket Major League Tier ‘A’ Super Eight Tournament. For a cricket career that took off when the twin son of the proud dad of world cup winning fame, was abuzz as a dreamy 6-year old kid who grew up with cricket, indeed the 61 wickets has come as the high point of the youngster’s career thus far.
Indeed, it is a ripe tale following in his father’s footsteps that was something that literally came naturally because as Duvindu puts it, ‘I and my twin brother Ruvindu grew up in a highly cricket environ where studies and playing cricket were part and parcel given our dad’s background. ’ It couldn’t be truer to the Tillakaratne twin sibling to brother Ruvindu, born on September 9, 1996, the year Sri Lanka emerged world cup champions. Something that the 23-year old is sentimentally proud of as he reminds in the exclusive interview with Sri Lanka Cricket Website www.srilankacricket.lk that ‘cricket has been in my blood, born to a father who represented the country’s world cup winning team and having grown up with cricket literally buzzing around me and my twin bro.’
And coming tops with the ball, quite the opposite form to what dad Hashan excelled in as a master class act with the bat as Sri Lanka’s middle order rock fortress, Mr. Reliable, certainly it is a sky high achievement for the junior Tillekeratne who has with it stamped his class and rearing to go. The fruity feat is the culmination of quite an eventful cricket journey that took off playing for S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia. The left arm spin prodigy pushed into second place the likes of Malinda Pushpakumara who took 50 wickets followed by Asitha Fernando 47.
As Duvindu recalls, “I took to active cricket representing the S. Thomas’ U10 team where the coach was Bulankulame Sir. Subsequently I and my bro Ravindu played for the U13 and 15 college teams and went on to captain the sides. I started my as a fast bowler.”
But his career was to take a new turn when Duvindu had switched to Trinity College in 2014-15 where his coach Sampath Perera took him off fast bowling because of his recurring injury and got him to bowl left arm spin. It has by all accounts set him on what holds out to be a promising future judging by his wicket taking exploits in the country’s topmost local tournament.
Duvindu is quick to credit his former Trinity College coach Sampath Perera for turning him into a spinner. “I must say that the move has begun to pay dividends by now going into the higher rungs of the game.”
Here’s the rest of the success story in Duvindu’s words, “During the school holidays he (Sampath) got me to take part in Division-III cricket for Kandy CC and turned me into a talented spinner in two months time. That benefit has stood me in good stead today. By 2014-15 I was the No. 1 spinner at Trinity and took 64 wickets. I Joined the Trinity U19 pool the same year and took 5 wickets for Sri Lanka U23 playing against Bangladesh.
By 2016, I had taken 106 wickets and was conferred the Trinity Lion award in recognition of the feat and the same year I represented the CCC U23 XI and thereafter the Badureliya SC side. I went on to round off a match bag of 11 wickets for Badureliya against NCC that year in what turned out to be an easy triumph for us.
During the 2017 Mercantile Cricket Tournament, I turned out for the Mass team about which a noteworthy feature was that all the team members happened to be Sri Lanka national players. The side was captained by Tillekeratne Dilshan. In the very first match I claimed 6 wickets for 30 runs against Kanrich. My cricket career soon extended to participating in overseas climes where competing in the Northumberland & Durham County Championships representing Easington I took 6 wickets for 10 runs in my very first match in what turned out to be a champagne year with my team winning the championship title.
I have been representing BRC since the 2018-19 season and taken 34 wickets in nine matches in that season. I went on to captain the BRC Under-23 team.”
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-