The Sri Lankan cricket team winning a T20 series for the first time in South Africa is a memorable achievement, as the team displayed indefatigable fighting spirit throughout the series in fast wickets, initially facing drawbacks in the Test series due to heavy pressure from the opponents.
Niroshan Dickwella was the star player in the Centurion, Johannesburg’s Wanderers and Cape Town pitches not only stunning the South African bowlers in his aggressive batting skills but also winning the Man of the Match in the final match as well as the Man of the Series.
23-year-old left-handed batsman Dickwella scored 133 runs in the T20 series and made his maiden half century scoring 68 runs at the decisive match played at the Cape Town Cricket Ground laying the foundation for the victory of the series.
Dickwella learned to play cricket from Trinity College at the early age and further honed his skills from the Bernard Perera Cricket Academy. Sampath Perera was his coach at Trinity College who built up his cricket skills. Dickwella humbly acknowledges that his success in cricket is due to his school’s coach Sampath Perera’s dedicated efforts.
Dickwella attributes his success at the national level to his experience as a wicketkeeper and batsman in the school team, his role as the school captain of the Under 19 and further being a player in Sri Lanka Under 19, 23, Sri Lanka ‘A’ and National teams which progressively sharpened the skills.
His debut in cricket as a Test player was on June 24, 2014 at the SSC Grounds against South Africa at number 7, scoring 72 runs as well as the recent success in South Africa is a significant milestone in his cricketing career.
“This was my first South African tour. I was fully delighted to back to runs in their fast tracks. The pitches for the Test matches were grassy and more suitable for fast bowlers. Yet for T20, we got grassless pitches which are good for batsmen, so we got the maximum advantage to our benefit,” adding that he could display his usual batting prowess.
“I am used to place ball at proper places rather than going for big shots. By this strategy I could build up scores. I succeeded in getting runs by Dil scoops, reverse sweeps, sweeps shots as well my own strokes. What I wanted was to remain at the wicket till fifth to sixth over as the opening batman and build up the score till at least the 15th over. I am contended that I contributed my best effort to the team,” Dickwella explained.
Dickwella was selected to the T20 South African tour squad after his success at the Premier League first class tournament representing the NCC as the opening batsman.
Dickwella says that he prefers to be the wicketkeeper while being the opening batsman at the same time. He is eager to return to the Test matches.
Dickwella successfully fills the vacuum created in one day and T20 squads by hard-hitting opening batsman Kusal Janith Perera. Over time, this left-handed player would be a promising cricketer in the international arena.
Dickwella reminds us the attributes of a veteran cricketer at play though he has the experience only of four Test matches, six T20s and seven ODIs behind him but enters the fray calm and collected to score well.
International commentators expressed that Dickwella’s placing of the ball is excellent. His performance helped better Sri Lanka’s position in the ranking. It behoves the cricket authorities to extend their fullest support to this up-and-coming young player.
Dickwella has a long journey to go in the international cricket world. He needs proper and able guidance to shine which will in turn benefit the Sri Lankan cricket.