Chandimal on why he said no to IPL


Sri Lanka’s new Test cricket Captain Dinesh Chandimal (R), former cricket Captain Angelo Mathews (C) and one-day and T20 Captain Upul Tharanga (L) pose after a press conference in Colombo on July 12. Sri Lanka appointed two new captains July 12 to replace Angelo Mathews, who resigned after his side’s humiliating home series defeat to bottom-ranked Zimbabwe. (Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP)

by Rex Clementine

At a time when Sri Lanka’s leading cricketers’ neglected national duty giving priority to the Indian Premier League, young Dinesh Chandimal turned down an IPL contract. Soon he was a targeted man by affected parties and still gets heckled by a senior fast bowler who is a darling of the IPL.

Chandimal was introduced as Sri Lanka’s 15th Test Captain on Wednesday. Yesterday, Thursday, he sat down to answer questions from journalists in his first press conference as country’s Test Captain.

Here are the excerpts:

Question: You come from humble beginnings and what was your reaction when you learned that you are going to lead Sri Lanka in Test cricket?

Dinesh Chandimal: I was totally humbled and full of joy. I know it’s a huge responsibility. I would like to thank SLC for keeping the faith on me. I would like to also thank the selectors for giving me the opportunity. I am going to give my heart and sweat to improve Sri Lankan cricket. I am desperate to get cricket back to glory days. Please give me some time, I am sure the Sri Lankan team as one entity will move forward and achieve greater things.

Question: You have done the job before and you have had ups and downs as Captain. Talk us through becoming Captain and then losing the captaincy?

DC: In 2014 I was appointed the T-20 captain. When I was doing the captaincy, I put the team first. As a result, I sacrificed a lot. For me the team came first. I didn’t shine as a batsman because I batted at number six. When you bat there, you only get two or three overs. As captain, I could have opened batting and scored my runs. But I thought about what was the best thing for the team. It was an experience that taught me a lot of things. Now there’s a huge challenge as well. With past experience I am hoping to do a good job.

Question: Ambalangoda has produced a lot of quality cricketers. Isn’t it a strange coincidence that both Sri Lanka’s Test captain and ODI captains are from Ambalangoda?

DC: I am very proud about Ambalangoda. Very happy that both of us are from Ambalangoda. At this moment, I would like to remember Asoka Kumara sir. He was my first coach. He was Upul Tharanga’s first coach as well. He was over the moon yesterday after the announcement of our appointment. I spoke to him over the phone.

Question: The UC ground at Ambalangoda which nurtured some big names of Sri Lankan cricket is in a very sad state at the moment. Your thoughts?

DC: The ground is under construction. SLC and the government have contributed significantly to improve the ground. A lot of good things are happening. Our biggest drawback has been not having a turf wicket. Hopefully we will get that in future. I am hoping that there will be more players coming through from Ambalangoda.

Question: Now that you are taking over the captaincy, will you giving up wicket-keeping?

DC: Niroshan Dickwella has done a decent job. He has kept well and batted well. He is young and we need to push him forward as well. He will probably keep wickets. But to get the combination right I am also ready to keep wickets. Tomorrow (Friday), however, it will be Dickwella.

Question: The Zimbabweans played spin well during the ODI series without much of a hassle. Is that something that you have thought about leading up to the Test match?

DC: The Zimbabwean players had a good tour playing our bowlers well. We never underestimated them. But the good thing for us leading up to the Test match is that the Test squad has some experience when it comes to spin bowling in Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera. We are confident of troubling their batsmen with the spin options that we have.

Question: It is learnt that you have been doing a lot of practice with the red ball. Is there anything specific that you worked on?

DC: I had a bit of an issue with my top hand, I was working on that and head position. I practised that for two weeks and looking forward to enjoy the results

Question: What made you to turn down an IPL contract?

DC: I didn’t refuse an IPL contract. What happened was I was given an IPL contract and I was in India for two weeks but didn’t get a chance to play. I knew I wasn’t going to get a chance either. Then I asked the management whether I could go back home and work on my game without wasting my time. They gave me permission. For the next IPL, I was the Captain of Sri Lanka’s T-20 team. I missed out on the first auction, but second time around I was bought when someone was injured. But by then I had committed myself to do some English lessons. I was also the Captain of the team. I felt that was not the best thing to do. So I kept out. That’s what happened.

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