Profile-Asanka Gurusinha (Vijay Lokapally, Sept 4, 1993) Asanka Gurusinha made his debut in 1985, against Imran Khan's Pakistan, but at the end of the recent India-Sri Lanka series, has just 26 Test matches to his credit. A very stylish left- hander, "Guru" as he is known in the cricket circles, has not really lived up to the promise he had shown as a youngster. In the return series against Pakistan at home in 1986, Gurusinha cracked an unbeaten century in the last Test. He then had to wait for five years to get his next century. It came on the 1990-91 New Zealand tour, which was his most successful ever. In just five innings, Gurusinha compiled 370 runs. His scoring sequence was 70, 119, 102, 50 and 29. The centuries came in the same Test at Hamilton. For once, he looked the solid batsman he was reputed to be. "I started international cricket in 1985. It is almost eight years now. So much has changed. With every season, cricket is getting tougher. I think one-day cricket has changed the game totally. It is much more difficult," Gurusinha said during a chat at the end of the recent series. It is only since 1990-91 that he started scoring consistently a the international level. At home, it is not too difficult, but Gurusinha found runs to come by in big cricket. A summer in Australia changed his thinking. He played for North Melbourne. It was a tough, district tournament with reputed Victorians like Merv Hughes and Dean Jones participating. "Cricket is played very hard in Australia. They pay you well, but expect good performance. I learnt not to throw away my wicket and score as many runs as possible," he said of the lessons learnt playing in Australia. Gurusinha can play almost all the shots in the book, but prefers to graft. Nothing stops him from playing shots, but batting at number three, he feels that at the start you have to cut out some strokes. "Also the fact that in a Test match it is important to stay at the wicket as long as possible," he added. Though he has played only 26 Tests in seven and a half years, the number of one-day internationals is 83. "You can see the difference. So much of one-day matches can harm your cricket but you have to learn to adjust. You can't escape one-day cricket today." Test cricket one day and limited overs cricket the next. Two different brands, but he has learnt to adjust. I donot think it is totally different. See if you take the 50 overs game, you aim fo a single off every ball, and even if you miss some, you can still get 230 or 240 without really playing the big shots. You might play a little different, say running the ball down to third man because there are no slips. You do not play this shot often in a Test match. You can get a single quite easily in a one-day match. From the beginning, Gurusinha believed in playing in the avoiding talk because it tends to relax you and is not good when your batting turn is next." He was a central figure during all the aggro on the field. "No, no. It was just that Kumble was bowling so well. It was a question of survival. Anything loose we had to punish. With so many close-in fielders, pushing the ball was a risky thing to do," he said. As for the sledging, the Indians were most unhappy at some of the things Gurusinha said to them. He says, "I don't think the umpires did anything worse. When we go out, we appeal. With so much appealing, it is difficult for the umpires. The players put so much pressure on them and if they are not experienced, you might get bad decisions. The reason why the players get angry is because they feel sure that they have been denied a decision by an umpire who is inexperienced not a cheat. "Maybe if you have neutral umpires, this aspect maybe taken care of. If we had neutral umpires in the second Test here, it may not have been so bad (the sledging). Now when we go to India, we may resort to the same things. I think we must have neutral umpires. The Match Referee cannot solve all problems. Neutral umpiring and the third umpire can help a lot." Players certainly have a lot of responsibility. Gurusinha said, "We have to set examples. It has become very tough and when you play hard, you tend to lose your cool. It happened in this series. Both teams played hard after having had successful series at home. The players put everything into the game and when they don't get a decision, they get angry at the umpire. That's why I say we must have neutral umpires. If not both, at least one umpire from outside." Cricket in Sri Lanka has become more organized and far more competitive than what it was when Guru- sinha was playing school cricket. "When I started, we had just one or two first class games in a year. It is different now. With teams coming to Sri Lanka regularly, the youngsters get a chance to play against some great names--Kapil Dev for instance. For a young cricketer it is a honor to play with or against him. The standard has also improved." Gurusinha always wanted to play like David Gower. He acknowledges the efforts of his coaches. W. A. N. Silva and Sidath Wettimuny, who helped him a lot. Sidath followed his career and helped him make minor changes. Before the New Zealand tour, he told him to correct his top hand grip on the bat. Employed with Sampath Bank, Gurusinha is happy the way his career has progressed. "I always wanted to be a cricketer and I have no regrets having become one,: he said.
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