Sri Lanka’s fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake said that 23-year-old Dushmantha Chameera was the most exciting fast bowling ‘find’ he has come across since Lasith Malinga.
Ramanayake, a former Sri Lanka fast bowler with 18 Test caps was responsible for the emergence of Malinga as a potent weapon in Sri Lanka’s bowling line up when he discovered him as a softball bowler down South and brought him to Colombo to convert him into a world class fast bowler – a reputation which he still carries on to the field even today.
Malinga broke into the international circuit in 2004 and was instrumental in leading Sri Lanka to win the World Twenty20 title in 2014.
“Chameera is the equivalent of Malinga at the start of his career pace wise but not skill wise which he has to develop,” Ramanayake told The Nation. “Malinga bowled with a lot of confidence and had raw pace and he had an unusual bowling action.
“Chameera’s got pace which was lacking in our bowling line up. It is good to have a bowler who can hit speeds of nearly 150kph consistently in your team. He has to work on his skill levels and he needs strengthening for sustainability.
Chameera was forced to go off the field for treatment in the middle of his second over during the Pakistan second innings at the P Sara Oval, but returned afterwards to bowl with a lot of pace and captured three wickets.
He unsettled the Pakistani batsmen and broke the wrist of all-rounder Wahab Riaz who has been ruled out of the Test series.
Ramanayake said that when he was working with the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team during the home series against Pakistan ‘A’ he got to know Chameera better.
“Working with the ‘A’ team there is lots of time to condition the bowlers better. Chameera along with the other fast bowlers underwent similar training as the seniors. It was enjoyable working with the youngsters.”
Ramanayake said the arrival of a new trainer from England Michael Main is helping all bowlers to get fitter and stronger.
“Conditioning is very important. We are doing a special program on fitness and strengthening for all our fast bowlers, it’s a six-month course,” said Ramanayake.
“With the climate and weather we have here it’s tough on the fast bowlers, you can’t bowl them in long spells. Sri Lanka must be the toughest place in the world for fast bowlers,” he said.
“Unlike in countries like England, New Zealand and Australia where the conditions and pitches are suitable for fast bowling it’s a challenge in Asian countries.”
Dhammika Prasad, named man of the match in Sri Lanka’s seven-wicket win over Pakistan on Monday is a bowler who has overcome fitness and injury problems which has in the past retarded his progress.
“Dhammika had a bowling fitness issue and when he was in the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team last year we treated him as a special case. We conditioned him and he was asked to bowl spells for a day as in a match situation. It’s a mental thing as well,” said Ramanayake.
Prasad bowled nearly 30 overs in the Pakistan second innings to take four wickets and helped Sri Lanka win and square the three-match series one-all.
Ramanayake said that his role in the senior team is to give confidence to the bowlers and work on their mental side.
“Bowlers can have a bad spell or a bad day but unlike batsmen they can always come back.”