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INSIDE Story

EXCLUSIVE

Wanindu Hasaranga

Young and Fearless!

INSIDE
Story

EXCLUSIVE

Wanindu Hasaranga

Young and Fearless!

STORY BY Shyam Impett

He is not the future of Sri Lankan cricket. He is the now. Call him a freak of nature, a wizard or a prodigy if you will... but Wanindu Hasaranga is just another ordinary boy with a serious work ethic who wants to do extraordinary things for his country.

Focussed, driven and ambitious, Wanindu thrives under pressure – and he delivers the goods almost always. His recent performances have landed him at No. 2 in the ICC T20 bowlers’ rankings, the highest place a Sri Lankan has occupied in over eight years.

Having said that, statistics can sometimes overshadow the work that goes on behind the scenes. And in Wanindu’s case, the story isn’t very different: the efforts off the field can only be described as phenomenal.

Hasaranga expects his team to win every match they play; and he empowers himself to be the spearhead of that cause. A unique character and stellar performer, he often has us wondering: “Where does he get this from?”

So it seemed logical to sit Wanindu down and ask him to answer Living’s questions... for the sake of our sanity!

Wanindu is quick to mention his coaches first: “I would not even be here if not for my teachers. I call them teachers because they taught me the basics of cricket. My first teacher was Mr. Danushka Denagama. He was my mentor and teacher from the under 13s to the under 15s. He ensured I was able to bat as much as I could bowl.”

“Mr. Dhammika Sudarshana was my coach at the under 19 level and Mr. Lakmal de Silva was the one who insisted that I switch to bowling leg spin,” he adds. What a legend, I thought...

And he continues: “My first cricket club was the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and it was Mr. Lasantha Prasad who helped me find my roots. Of course, I can’t forget my current coach at the Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) Mr. Tharanga Dhammika and his assistant Mr. Kelum Gangodawila. Starting a conversation without mentioning the gentlemen behind my journey would be a flat out crime.”

Q: Could you tell us about your family and upbringing in the days before you started playing cricket?

A: My mother has always been a housewife. My father was a police constable (he is retired now); he was always on duty. And my brother Chaturanga (de Silva) was my first mentor. I have a sister too.

My childhood was pleasant, watching my brother play cricket – and I naturally followed his lead.

Q: What was schooling at Richmond like? What were the highs of your time in school?

A: I was an average student. I wasn’t weak in my studies but neither was I a genius. I began participating in Under 13 practices but was soon bored with it – because it was just batting and throwing drills.

Later, Mr. Denagama took over and conducted inter-class trials; and the rest, as they say, is history. My highlight was the ‘Big Match’ in 2014 when I took 12 catches. It was a dream match and mind you, I was still a pace bowler at the time.

Q: Could you share your memories of playing in the 2016 Youth World Cup – including the highlights?

A: I took to spin bowling at the age of 18, which is when the selectors noticed me. I was drafted into the Under 19 squad because of my consistency. My three wicket hauls against England and Pakistan were my favourite moments. They were special.

Q: And memories of your ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2017 – and claiming a hat-trick on debut?

A: Yes, I remember calling my parents and then my brother, the moment I heard the news. They were so excited for me.


I was nervous bowling that first over, and remember Angie (Angelo Mathews) and Lasith (Malinga) telling me to relax. My third over was the hat-trick over. The first ball was hit for four and Angie yelled “hold your nerve.” The next delivery got me a wicket and then another...

So I was on the verge of a hat-trick on debut, and I was excited and dizzy at the same time! 

Angelo came up to me and said: “You got this; keep your line.” And Lasith knew something that I didn’t know: “Keep it in line with the stumps, bowl a googly and you will have this hat-trick. Claim this one.”

I went on to get it, Sri Lanka went on to win the game and I think it’s safe to say we were all over the moon.

Q: How do you view the present Sri Lankan T20 squad and how far do you think we can go in this year’s World Cup? What are our strengths and weaknesses?

A: This is the strongest and best squad we have. We may lack experience in certain departments but we’ve been playing as a unit and able to win together. Our cohesiveness is our strength. I believe we can go all the way.

We have the right temperament, a seriously talented unit and great coaching staff to back us. We need to believe and know that we can. 

Q: How much inspiration did you get from watching the Sri Lanka Legends reach the final of the Road Safety World Series played in India earlier this year? Any particular memories from what you saw on the field?

A: Wow! Watching (Tillakaratne) Dilshan field the way he did was inspiring. I have always admired him for his fielding.

Seeing our childhood heroes go out there and give their best reminded us of the greatness we represent as a nation. That pride is what drives and inspires generations of cricketers. I was a boy fan all over again. That performance stirred something in us too; it inspired us to emulate that success.


Wanindu-Hasaranga-Living-Magazine-6
My brother Chaturanga (de Silva) was myfirst mentor"

Q: In your assessment, how successful was the inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL) – and what are your expectations of the forthcoming tournament?

A: As a player, I was pleased with the tournament. I know it wasn’t the easiest of times for Sri Lanka and the board but they pulled it off in style. Being a member of the winning team and walking away with the Player of the Series award was the icing on the cake.

I would like to see a better pool of foreign players coming forward for the next season. Franchise cricket is important for players and their countries to improve. Your league is only as successful as the quality of players you attract.

Last year, we had the likes of Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi, Dale Steyn and Chris Gayle participating. Gayle had to pull out because of an injury but these were big names, and they instantly attracted attention and investors.

Therefore, it is important to have high profile players in the LPL. It shows our strength

Q: As for the three formats of the game, do you have a favourite – and if so, why?

A: I prefer the white ball formats; they’re fast paced, exciting and demanding.

Q: As a young cricketer from the pool of next generation sportsmen, what more can we do to motivate and upskill Sri Lanka’s future talent?

A: What we need to understand is that Sri Lanka has the talent. We don’t lack that. We need to apply ourselves, concentrate and work hard along with our coaching staff.

Proper eating habits are important too. Above all, we need to learn to be patient and work progressively towards our goals.

Q: Your advice to schoolboy cricketers who aspire to play for their country in the future is…?

A: Keep it simple, stick to the basics, apply yourself and when you pick your first class club, select one that offers you the best chance of playing.

Don’t always go for the ‘name’ (of the cricket club). Pick one that promises you a chance to grow.

Quick-fire round

Q: Your favourite cricket ground to play in, here in Sri Lanka?
A: Galle International Stadium.

Q: Your favourite overseas cricket ground to play in?
A: Lord’s – my dream ground; I’ve yet to play a game there but hope I will one day.

Q: Your all-time favourite international cricketers are…?
A: Steve Smith and Virat Kohli

Q: Your all-time favourite Sri Lankan cricketer is…?
A: Angelo Mathews. He was also my first captain – a dream debut for me in every sense.

Q: Who do you fear bowling to the most?
A: Fear is just a word (chuckles).

Q: Who do you fear batting against the most?
A: Fear is just a word – again (and winks, this time around!).

Q: You prefer batting or bowling…?
A: I like both but my favourite is fielding. I love it.

Q: From past Sri Lankan cricket captains, who do you admire the most?
A: Angelo Mathews without a doubt.

Q: From past Sri Lankan batsmen, who do you admire the most?
A: Angelo Mathews will always be the only one on my list.

Q: From past Sri Lankan bowlers, who do you admire the most?
A: Lasith – the ‘Slinga Malinga.’

Sri Lankan Cricket is...

“A sport that can change a nation; probably the only sport that unites everyone; and easily the sport everyone loves.”

Sri Lankan Cricket Fans are...

“Our lifeline. Their love, adoration and cheering keep us going. I think it’s safe to say we go out there and do our best because of our support base. To be cheered when we do well is so humbling. Our Sri Lankan supporters are the most honest well-wishers in the world.”

Sri Lanka is...

“The best island in the world. We have it all, don’t we? With the right leadership, I think we could be a world beater. I will always choose my country first.”

Wanindu-Hasaranga-Living-Magazine-7
“My highlight was the ‘Big Match’ in 2014 when I took 12 catches. It was a dream match and mind you, I was still a pace bowler at the time"

Q: Could you tell us about your family and upbringing in the days before you started playing cricket?

A: My mother has always been a housewife. My father was a police constable (he is retired now); he was always on duty. And my brother Chaturanga (de Silva) was my first mentor. I have a sister too.

My childhood was pleasant, watching my brother play cricket – and I naturally followed his lead.

Q: What was schooling at Richmond like? What were the highs of your time in school?

A: I was an average student. I wasn’t weak in my studies but neither was I a genius. I began participating in Under 13 practices but was soon bored with it – because it was just batting and throwing drills.

Later, Mr. Denagama took over and conducted inter-class trials; and the rest, as they say, is history. My highlight was the ‘Big Match’ in 2014 when I took 12 catches. It was a dream match and mind you, I was still a pace bowler at the time.

Q: Could you share your memories of playing in the 2016 Youth World Cup – including the highlights?

A: I took to spin bowling at the age of 18, which is when the selectors noticed me. I was drafted into the Under 19 squad because of my consistency. My three wicket hauls against England and Pakistan were my favourite moments. They were special.

Q: And memories of your ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2017 – and claiming a hat-trick on debut?

A: Yes, I remember calling my parents and then my brother, the moment I heard the news. They were so excited for me.


I was nervous bowling that first over, and remember Angie (Angelo Mathews) and Lasith (Malinga) telling me to relax. My third over was the hat-trick over. The first ball was hit for four and Angie yelled “hold your nerve.” The next delivery got me a wicket and then another...

So I was on the verge of a hat-trick on debut, and I was excited and dizzy at the same time! 

Angelo came up to me and said: “You got this; keep your line.” And Lasith knew something that I didn’t know: “Keep it in line with the stumps, bowl a googly and you will have this hat-trick. Claim this one.”

I went on to get it, Sri Lanka went on to win the game and I think it’s safe to say we were all over the moon.

Q: How do you view the present Sri Lankan T20 squad and how far do you think we can go in this year’s World Cup? What are our strengths and weaknesses?

A: This is the strongest and best squad we have. We may lack experience in certain departments but we’ve been playing as a unit and able to win together. Our cohesiveness is our strength. I believe we can go all the way.

We have the right temperament, a seriously talented unit and great coaching staff to back us. We need to believe and know that we can. 

Q: How much inspiration did you get from watching the Sri Lanka Legends reach the final of the Road Safety World Series played in India earlier this year? Any particular memories from what you saw on the field?

A: Wow! Watching (Tillakaratne) Dilshan field the way he did was inspiring. I have always admired him for his fielding.

Seeing our childhood heroes go out there and give their best reminded us of the greatness we represent as a nation. That pride is what drives and inspires generations of cricketers. I was a boy fan all over again. That performance stirred something in us too; it inspired us to emulate that success.


Wanindu-Hasaranga-Living-Magazine-6
My brother Chaturanga (de Silva) was myfirst mentor"

Q: In your assessment, how successful was the inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL) – and what are your expectations of the forthcoming tournament?

A: As a player, I was pleased with the tournament. I know it wasn’t the easiest of times for Sri Lanka and the board but they pulled it off in style. Being a member of the winning team and walking away with the Player of the Series award was the icing on the cake.

I would like to see a better pool of foreign players coming forward for the next season. Franchise cricket is important for players and their countries to improve. Your league is only as successful as the quality of players you attract.

Last year, we had the likes of Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi, Dale Steyn and Chris Gayle participating. Gayle had to pull out because of an injury but these were big names, and they instantly attracted attention and investors.

Therefore, it is important to have high profile players in the LPL. It shows our strength

Q: As for the three formats of the game, do you have a favourite – and if so, why?

A: I prefer the white ball formats; they’re fast paced, exciting and demanding.

Q: As a young cricketer from the pool of next generation sportsmen, what more can we do to motivate and upskill Sri Lanka’s future talent?

A: What we need to understand is that Sri Lanka has the talent. We don’t lack that. We need to apply ourselves, concentrate and work hard along with our coaching staff.

Proper eating habits are important too. Above all, we need to learn to be patient and work progressively towards our goals.

Q: Your advice to schoolboy cricketers who aspire to play for their country in the future is…?

A: Keep it simple, stick to the basics, apply yourself and when you pick your first class club, select one that offers you the best chance of playing.

Don’t always go for the ‘name’ (of the cricket club). Pick one that promises you a chance to grow.

Wanindu-Hasaranga-Living-Magazine-7
“My highlight was the ‘Big Match’ in 2014 when I took 12 catches. It was a dream match and mind you, I was still a pace bowler at the time"

Quick-fire round

Q: Your favourite cricket ground to play in, here in Sri Lanka?
A: Galle International Stadium.

Q: Your favourite overseas cricket ground to play in?
A: Lord’s – my dream ground; I’ve yet to play a game there but hope I will one day.

Q: Your all-time favourite international cricketers are…?
A: Steve Smith and Virat Kohli

Q: Your all-time favourite Sri Lankan cricketer is…?
A: Angelo Mathews. He was also my first captain – a dream debut for me in every sense.

Q: Who do you fear bowling to the most?
A: Fear is just a word (chuckles).

Q: Who do you fear batting against the most?
A: Fear is just a word – again (and winks, this time around!).

Q: You prefer batting or bowling…?
A: I like both but my favourite is fielding. I love it.

Q: From past Sri Lankan cricket captains, who do you admire the most?
A: Angelo Mathews without a doubt.

Q: From past Sri Lankan batsmen, who do you admire the most?
A: Angelo Mathews will always be the only one on my list.

Q: From past Sri Lankan bowlers, who do you admire the most?
A: Lasith – the ‘Slinga Malinga.’

Sri Lankan Cricket is...

“A sport that can change a nation; probably the only sport that unites everyone; and easily the sport everyone loves.”

Sri Lankan Cricket Fans are...

“Our lifeline. Their love, adoration and cheering keep us going. I think it’s safe to say we go out there and do our best because of our support base. To be cheered when we do well is so humbling. Our Sri Lankan supporters are the most honest well-wishers in the world.”

Sri Lanka is...

“The best island in the world. We have it all, don’t we? With the right leadership, I think we could be a world beater. I will always choose my country first.”

Wanindu-Hasaranga-Living-Magazine-9

About Wanindu Hasaranga

FULL NAME
Pinnaduwage Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva

BORN
Galle

RELATIVES
Chaturanga de Silva (brother)

DATE OF BIRTH
29 July 1997

EDUCATION
Richmond College (Galle)

TEAMS
Sri Lanka
Colombo Cricket Club (CCC)
Jaffna Stallions
Richmond College
Sri Lanka Under-19s
Sri Lanka Under-23s

TRIVIA
Wanindu Hasaranga is only the third debutant in ODI history to bowl a hat-trick


Wanindu’s Favourites

HOBBIES
Playing video games
Watching football

FAVOURITE BRANDS
PUMA
SF (Stanford)

ADMIRES
His parents
His brother
His manager

ROLE MODELS
Angelo Mathews
Virat Kohli
Steve Smith

//usounoul.com/4/3574464