Back in the year 2001, Champaka Ramanayake, now working as a bowling coach with the Bangladesh Cricket Board, had spotted Lasith Malinga
Hard work and patience are two simple words which have made “Lasith Malinga”, believes the man himself.
The legendry Sri Lankan pacer called it a day to his 15-year-old ODI career with the first of the three-match ODI series against visitor Bangladesh at R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo Friday.
On the night, it was as if the whole of Colombo had swooned to the Malinga time loop as he gave out his farewell speech.
But one section of the farewell program that had caught special attention was when the Sri Lankan maestro took time to thank his coach and former team mate Chamapaka Ramanayake.
@OfficialSLC lost their eighth wicket for 309 that saw pace legend Lasith Malinga with the willow for the one last time in ODIs.https://t.co/JwHF71onlh#SRILANKACRICKET #CRICKET #SLC #SRILANKA #LASITHMALINGA #LASITH #MALINGA #MALI #BANGLADESHCRICKET #BCBTIGERS #BANGLADESH #BCB— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) July 26, 2019
Back in the year 2001, Champaka, now working as a bowling coach with the Bangladesh Cricket Board, had spotted Malinga.
Champaka was then a coach-cum-player at Galle Cricket Club and had dropped himself in a game to make Malinga play.
Champaka was also a founder member and captain of the club.
“Champaka is the man behind my cricketing career because when he found me in 2001, he saw that that I had something in me. My action is different but he realized that I had the pace. In that time pace was very important because we had Dilhara Fernando and so many other pace bowlers in that period,” said Malinga in a press conference Friday night.
@BCBtigers stand-in captain @TamimOfficial28 blamed failures of all three departments for the 91-run defeat against host @OfficialSLC in the first game of the three-match ODI series at R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo Fridayhttps://t.co/IqDNJ451hk#BCBTIGERS #BCB #TIGERS #SRILANKA— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) July 26, 2019
“He took me to Galle cricket and gave an opportunity to play for his team. In the game I got eight wickets and this had made Champaka decide to stop playing and do the coaching so that I can play. This is a rare thing a person can do. Myself and [Nuwan] Kulasekara both had him as the coach.”
Malinga termed Bangladesh pacers lucky to have the guidance of a coach of the level of Champaka and said Sri Lanka cricket misses him.
“He is one of the most successful coaches I have seen. He produced players and made them perform. When he went to Bangladesh, that time I knew the Bangladeshi fast bowlers would also appreciate him and the Bangladesh board will appreciate him. He has a talent and he knows how to find the talent. He knows how to develop a player. I think we [Sri Lanka cricket] miss him but we cannot control that. Bangladesh guys are very lucky because he is in there,” said Malinga who finished with 338 wickets in 226 ODIs for Sri Lanka.
Champaka in contrast counts himself fortunate having mentored a legend of the game.
Since my arrival in Colombo and whilst going to places related to cricket in the island, one discussion has been common – the farewell of the county’s pace legend Lasith Malinga.https://t.co/qYYWjUEEpR#LASITHMALINGA #LASITH #MALINGA #SRILANKA #CRICKET #SLC #SRILANKACRICKET— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) July 26, 2019
The former Sri Lanka pacer in an interview last week said he knew Malinga was special for his action and he has never tampered with that.
“His action is unique and that’s why I never wanted to change that. It was also unique that he never had the fear even at the age of 16. He was street-smart and clever and assessed the game very well. I was fortunate to have discovered him and mentor him throughout his career,” said Champaka.
Former right-arm pacer Chamapka believes there will never be another one like Malinga.
“It is simply for the ability to the read game and handling the situation under pressure that makes Malinga different. There won’t be anyone like him,” said Champaka.