Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella arrived to the major league following a glorious school cricket career. To start out with, the left-handed batsman captained Trinity College to an unbeaten season, winning the two-day, one-day and T20 tournament. In the process, he went down in the history book of Trinity as their most successful captain. Hailing from the same school as Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara, Dickwella was introduced relatively early to the international circuit. However, a bad run of form saw the cricketer get axed from the national squad for the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series featuring India and Bangladesh recently. Dickwella during a recent one-day game for his domestic team Nondescripts Cricket Club took some time out to share his thoughts with Dhaka Tribune in an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts:
Disappointed not to be a part of the Nidahas series?
Definitely. I did not score much runs in the last few series. So I am playing the domestic league now, hoping to get some big scores and get back in the team.
Did you speak to head coach Chandika Hathurusingha regarding your batting?
I know what I have to do but there is a bad patch for every player and I am going through that now. I am trying to overcome those mistakes and improve my game.
Do you think you need to change the way you play?
I really don’t want to change my way of batting, and game plan. I want to continue with what I have been doing since young age. That has helped me to become a national cricketer, represent my country and survive in the team for two years. I think I have to improve my strategies and the way I should handle the situations. That should improve my game.
You are an attacking batsman by nature. How do you set your mind for the longer version?
I have to adapt to the situations in the different formats of the game. In Test matches I have to play in the middle-order and contribute while in the short format I have to bat at the top-order. There my job is to get quick runs and, get the team momentum. So the situations are different. As a professional cricketer, I have to adapt to the situation and I have to change accordingly.
Amazingly, you started your innings against Bangladesh in the T20 practice match recently with a scoop shot...
Scoop shot is premeditated but others are not. As I said it is my normal game-plan. I would like to continue that way and capitalise on my starts and skills.
Don’t practice scoops and other shots in the nets as it is not allowed. Last series in Bangladesh in April I broke my finger trying to play the scoop so the management has banned me from playing the scoop shot in the nets. So I only play it in the match.
You hail from the same college as Sangakkara...
He helped me a lot since I was young and when I was playing for Trinity, he used to help me and the team. My debut was with him (against South Africa) so he helped me a lot though the period of like six months. I was playing with him in the ODIs and Tests. I think I have been able to learn what I wanted from him, and Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews as well.
What was it like playing alongside Sangakkara, the same guy you idolised while playing school cricket?
It is a great privilege to have played with him. It was a great honour to represent the country with a legend. Our country has a few legends and Sangakkara is one of them. I have played series' with him against Pakistan, South Africa and Australia, so it was an amazing experience for me. Back when I was a kid, I used to watch on TV how they played.
Did you idolise Sangakkara or was it someone else?
(Sangakkara) was my role model. I like Adam Gilchrist and Brendon McCullum as well. But Sangakkara was a consistent player for which I liked him.
Where do you want to see yourself after five years?
I just want to play for the national team and win more matches for Sri Lanka. That’s my only plan at the moment – to score runs, keep wickets and be a safe wicket-keeper in all three formats.
Do you watch videos of the opposition wicket-keepers and batsmen?
I like watching videos of famous batsmen but honestly I cannot play like them. So I only play to my potential and strength. I cannot follow them and play their shots. I cannot play shots that Sanath Jayasuriya played. I have to improve on my strength.
In wicket-keeping I do follow MS Dhoni and a few others. I can improve my wicket-keeping watching them but not my batting.
What do you like about Dhoni?
Dhoni is the quickest in the world. He has the quickest hands behind the stumps and reflexes.