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Sri Lanka are known to produce bowlers with the most unique actions, but few know about the ones that got away. Delivering the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's on Monday, Kumar Sangakkara mentioned two such characters to illustrate how the team management thinks out of the box in their search for talent. "A district coach had discovered a volleyball player who ran to the crease slowly but then delivered the ball while in mid-air with a smash-like leap", Sangakkara said. "His leap would land him quite a way down the pitch in the follow-through". Unfortunately, despite an interest shown by the national selectors, the high-flying bowler didn't quite make it beyond his first screening. The reason? Bowling for half an hour in the nets – his longest spell ever – had strained his back.
And then there was the story of the monk. "A letter postmarked from a remote village in Sri Lanka had the writer claiming to be the fastest undiscovered bowler in Sri Lanka. A district coach investigating this claim found the writer to be a teenage Buddhist priest who insisted upon giving a demonstration of bowling while still dressed in his saffron-coloured robes." As Sangakkara put it, cricket in Sri Lanka tempts even the most chaste and holy.
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