When national cricketer Kusal Janith Perera said ‘I do’ to his childhood sweetheart Kalani Randima in March, it was the culmination of a 12 year – most often, long distance – relationship.
She’s a dentist in the state sector and her work takes Kalani around the island. He’s a batsman who can’t be away from the willow for too long. The day after his wedding, Kusal was back on the field playing in a T20 game against the West Indies!
But before he made this life changing decision, Kusal had made another one – and probably the most daring. At 13, he morphed from being a right-handed batsman to a left-hander to emulate his cricketing hero Sanath Jayasuriya. This transformation earned him the nickname ‘Podi Sana.’
The change has certainly augured well for Kusal because he is almost manic when facing some of the best bowlers of his time. In fact, the faster the bowler, the more adrenaline Kusal Janith seems to pump since he loves a challenge.
He is firmly positioned in Sri Lanka’s national squad and has proven to be the saviour of many a match, whether this is with the bat or behind the stumps. Who can forget that 153 not out against South Africa in an innings that was hailed as being the greatest in 140 years of Test history?
Kusal Janith isn’t reticent about his humble beginnings. He strongly believes that his childhood in Kottawa with his value driven parents, siblings and schooling have contributed to making him the man he is today. Those who know the swashbuckling batsman well consider him a kindhearted and passionate person.
A wish on his bucket list is to establish a sports training complex for the less privileged. It will be an inclusive facility that isn’t limited only to promising cricketers – all young sportspersons who wish to hone their skills will be welcome.
Something of an introvert, Kusal Janith’s endearing smile is partially hidden by his beard, which he’s apparently growing to avoid sunburn – although it was trimmed to give him some panache for his wedding.
And what plans do the young couple have for life after cricket?
DATE OF BIRTH
17 August 1990
Parents (Kithsiri and Swarna)
Older brother (Sanjeewa)
Younger sister (Udara)
Kottawa Dharmapala Maha Vidyalaya
Dharmapala Vidyalaya (Pannipitiya)
Everything about motor vehicles
ALWAYS WANTED TO BE
A good person
I took to wicketkeeping like a duck to water – it came very naturally
Tennis or golf
Formula One or rally driving
Two-door or four-door
Beach or mountain
Waterfall or river
Flowers or fruits
Swim or cycle
Jog or run
Shorts or jeans
Polo or T-shirt
Slippers or barefoot
Sneakers or loafers
Play or film
Drama or action
Fiction or nonfiction
Television or theatre
Indian or Thai cuisine
Pizza or pasta
Ice cream or pudding
Rice or bread
Water or energy drink
The most difficult time in my career was when the International Cricket Council (ICC) erroneously docked me for doping
Yves Saint Laurent
Aravinda de Silva
Melbourne Cricket Ground
CHILL OUT SPOTS
The south of Sri Lanka
Colts Cricket Club
The Lagoon (Cinnamon Grand Colombo)
ON14 Rooftop Bar & Lounge (OZO Colombo)
LOCAL HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS
OVERSEAS HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS
Q: What was it like getting married one day and playing cricket the next?
A: It was an emotional roller coaster – a matter of the heart on the one hand and one of skill on the other.
Q: Tell us about Kalani and what makes her ‘Mrs Right’!
A: It’s been 12 years and that much time implies that you grow up in tandem – so it’s a little difficult to explain her X factor per se. She’s unpretentious and highly educated, and a typical Sri Lankan cutie.
Q: What has been the turning point in your cricketing career?
A: It could have been the 148 I scored at the Royal-Thomian or my triple hundred playing first-class cricket for my club – Colts.
Q: How did your love for wicketkeeping come to be?
A: I took to wicketkeeping like a duck to water – it came very naturally.
Q: What has been the most difficult time in your career?
A: The most difficult time in my career was when the International Cricket Council (ICC) erroneously docked me for doping. But I was compensated with the truth and an apology from the ICC.
Q: Of all the bowlers you’ve faced, who has been the most challenging?
A: The most challenging bowler I have faced is South African quick Dale Steyn – he is considered one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time.
Q: What is the last thing that goes through your mind before you play a ball?
A: Timing – that is crucial.
Q: When did you have the most exciting time behind the stumps?
A: Playing against England in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) on a nice sunny day at Leeds. It was a heady time when we beat England who eventually went on to become the CWC19 champions.
Q: Where have you had your best crowds?
A: In India for sure but I also like the ‘Barmy Army’ when they are on tour.
Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from cricket?
A: To keep life nice and simple, and never forget the fundamentals.
Q: Is there anyone in the world you would like to meet?
A: The legendary Brian Charles Lara.
Q: Any particular bowler you would like to face?
A: Australian Jeff Thomson (‘Thommo’) – he is known as the fastest bowler of his generation.
Q: What has been the most frightening experience in your life?
A: Crashing into a billboard while going for a catch when playing in the West Indies. I was unconscious for a few minutes and was later told that an ambulance drove me off the field.
Q: If you weren’t a cricketer, what would you have been?
A: I would have been an IT professional because I’m passionate about technology.
Q: What makes you happy and sad?
A: Trust and truth make me happy while deceit makes me sad.
Q: Is there anything you dislike intensely?
Q: What would be your favourite meal?
A: Anything on the menu at Nando’s.
Q: Your most memorable moment…
A: Receiving my first Test cap.
Q: So what’s next for Kusal Janith?
A: I have five more years to decide on the next phase.
Q: What’s the cricketing legacy you would like to leave?
A: KJP = ‘Mr Tenacity’!