Sri Lanka in England 2011 May 22, 2011

Bullish Fernando vows to make most of opportunity

30

It's fair to say there's been a hint of underachievement in Dilhara Fernando's career, but from being just another fast bowler he's suddenly been elevated to the role of spearheading his country's bowling attack on their current tour of England following the retirements of Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga from Test cricket.

Fernando's career record doesn't match the effort and determination he puts into every delivery he bowls. He emerged, raw but exciting, a decade ago but is still not guaranteed a regular place in the Sri Lanka Test, one-day or twenty20 international teams. He's played only 35 Tests (90 wickets), 141 ODIs (180 wickets) and 16 T20Is (17 wickets). Now, older, wiser and more controlled, it is to him that Sri Lanka's inexperienced attack will turn to for guidance this summer.

It is a role he relishes, not because he is the senior-most bowler in a five-pronged pace attack, but because it gives him the opportunity to play in a full series - a chance he has been often denied.

"I am extremely happy to be made the spearhead of the fast bowling attack. In the past few years I have not played consistently. If you analyse my matches properly I have played on an average one match per series," Fernando said shortly after bowling his country to a come-from-behind win over England Lions in Derby.

Fernando grabbed three wickets in six balls in the course of an 11-over spell in the second innings. Two notable scalps included Eoin Morgan, the first-innings century-maker who was named in England's squad for the first Test, and Ravi Bopara, another contender for an England place going into the game.

"In the past two to three years I have not played matches continuously. If I play one match today the next match I get to play is in another one-and-a-half to two months. I didn't play a single match in the 2011 World Cup and in the past four months I have not played a single match. In the past 12 months I have played in only seven ODIs and in those matches I have taken 11 wickets.

"I still get to play only a one-off match or if someone is injured or rested. Now that I have got the opportunity I am determined to go all out and prove a point. I don't think I will ever get another opportunity like this to prove myself. I will put 100 percent effort into every delivery I bowl. I don't know what the end result will be but I will give it my best shot."

Fernando is the only fast bowler in the squad experienced in English conditions. He toured England in 2002 and in 2009 played for Worcestershire in the English County Championship.

"I bowled very well in English conditions and wickets. I am hoping to use that experience to the maximum on this tour. I hope the conditions will help the fast bowlers. (Chanaka) Welagedera, (Suranga) Lakmal and (Nuwan) Pradeep have been picked because they have performed well. I am sure they will become better bowlers than me in the future.

"A lot of people have the wrong impression of me. They think that I am an average bowler, uncertain whether I would deliver, if I do I am good, otherwise I am just average. They think that I cannot bowl, that I am not accurate and I am not consistent. I am waiting for an opportunity to disprove them," said Fernando. "I don't know whether that opportunity is the England tour but if not I am determined to wait until the opportunity comes along to prove my critics wrong. Until I do that I will not quit from cricket.

"These wrong opinions of me have surfaced because I have not been given an opportunity to play consistently. If I had done so it would have been a different story. My main focus on the England tour is to dispel the doubts that critics have against my bowling. I want to change their opinion about me and finish my career on a high note," he said.

Until 2008 Fernando's career had been plagued by injuries, which also contributed to his perceived inconsistency. He recovered from two stress fracture injuries to his back only to injure his ankle - which required surgery in 2008. "I took some time to recover from the injury. I felt pain when I bowled but now the pain has decreased and almost disappeared and I am fit and back to normal. I am capable of bowling at around 145 to 150 kph now."

Another major problem that Fernando has overcome is bowling no-balls, for which he is grateful to former fast bowling coach Anusha Samaranayake. "I am indebted to Anusha Samaranayake for helping me eradicate that frustrating problem," he said. "He worked a lot on my bowling, trying to reduce the number of no-balls that I was bowling. If you analyse my bowling now there is a considerable improvement on the no-balls I bowl.

"There have been many occasions when I had got annoyed with myself for bowling a no-ball especially if it has been a wicket-taking ball. I am angry with myself for putting so much effort into my bowling to get a wicket and eventually to see it being ruled as a no- ball. There have been several instances like that in all forms of cricket."

The fact that he has been dubbed 'No-ball Fernando' by some of his critics does not bother him. "I am strong enough to absorb such remarks cast at me as long as it not against my family."

Voicing his opinion on the upcoming three-Test series against England, Fernando said that he had prepared for it quite assiduously. "I have watched videos of England batsmen while I was in India for the IPL [for Mumbai Indians] and learnt a lot of their weak points from Indian cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar.

"We have selected the best available team and everything depends on how well we perform. The only thing you can guarantee is your ability and effort that you put in," he said. "If we can do it consistently we can obtain results in our favour. A lot of people have told me that I have not lived up to my potential, that is a motivation to spur me on."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 24, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    2 Early 2 Chocke! But I believe you have natural talent like most SL players (except Mubarak ponsi). You already have prove it Hoo you r few times. Remember the 2007 crunch game last over and 1st ever T20 match in 2006. U have the body and talent man, Now U hav 2 deliver. God Bless you, Good Luck!

  • CricketPissek on May 23, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    @dsig3 - FYI Dilhara eradicated his no-ball issue a few years ago. With the emergence of Lasith Malinga, and SL's lack of test matches, Kulasekara being a consistent ODI performer, Dilhara was put to the back burners of SL cricket. He was always a strike bowler for SL. Every sportsman needs a fair run of consecutive matches and series to develop rhythm and form, and he was denied this. His style of bowling is ideal for bouncy wickets, so I'm not sure whether he'll be at his absolute best in English conditions, but if he gets to play all 3 tests, he will definitely put his heart and soul into it. He can be an excellent weapon for Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa in December/January where the conditions suit him brilliantly, and where he performed so well on his maiden tour which was SL's last tour there waaaay back in 2002! This is why we Lankans feel we get step motherly treatment for tours

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    If Dilhara and the new brigade performs with Dilshan's guidance some so called legends who plays for IPL and not for the country in tests may see stars.... also the so called best batters in Sri Lanka ( who did not contribute anything to these wins but dropped two caches ) would be under pressure after they voiced support for this non test playing legend.... and opted to leave IPL sooo late..... let's wait and see....

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    dear dilhara-iam sure that u will be 100%succesful onthis tour.although u r a devout cathalic i am sure that u willl receive the blessings of tripple gem.blessings of buddha dhamma &sanga.show the true grit &courage of RAGAMA clan!good luck.

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:04 GMT

    What were we doing with Mahela and Sanga as captains ?? The Ausies. Indians and all loved them as they new they were not tough and shrewed as Ranatunge / Silva combination. Now comes the Dilshan / xxxx combination. If they perform all may wonder what spineless captains we were having during the last two worldcups.

  • WPDDESILVA on May 23, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    He should have played for Sri Lanka instead of slow pace bowlers like Kulasekara. No one was interested on Dilhara and i think lot of people under estimate his ability to bowl those split finger slower balls and 90mph deliveries. I hope he cement his position as the leading Test bowler. He deserves it!

  • sanath007 on May 23, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    he got to prove alot of people wrong including myself who never enjoyed of him being selected as a Sri Lankan paceman. but now he's the only one with enough experience left.so i hope Dilhara will prove his point. he has the talent

  • dsig3 on May 23, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    Fundamentally flawed player. Does he still bowl no balls regularly? How is he a spearhead? From what I have seen Kuluas......the guy who bowls inswingers is far better than him.

  • Agnar on May 23, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    I was not a big fan of Dilhaara but I had no doubts he has potential. What he has done in England impressed me. He is your chance. Grab it and show what you can do. This is a big responsibility. If Dilhara fires, we can dislodge the "best test team" of the world. I think there is wide spread bias against SL cricket. We won the world cup once and came to finals twice after that. But for pundits (in cricinfo and elsewhere) still Sri Lanka is a second class cricket team. When a Sri Lankan player score a hundred they report every dropped catch and all SL teams successes are given to individual players like Sanath and Murali ("SL can not win without so and so"). Don't forget that SL team produced those players. (No disrespect for their natural talent.) They love to show statistics to prove that SL wins more at home. Put down "sub-continent" pitches. Well more people in the sub-continent consider cricket thir major sport now. Shouldn't sub-continent pitches be the norm?

  • BanBouncers on May 23, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    Those armchair critics, can you all just shut up and give Dilhara a chance to prove himself??

  • on May 24, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    2 Early 2 Chocke! But I believe you have natural talent like most SL players (except Mubarak ponsi). You already have prove it Hoo you r few times. Remember the 2007 crunch game last over and 1st ever T20 match in 2006. U have the body and talent man, Now U hav 2 deliver. God Bless you, Good Luck!

  • CricketPissek on May 23, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    @dsig3 - FYI Dilhara eradicated his no-ball issue a few years ago. With the emergence of Lasith Malinga, and SL's lack of test matches, Kulasekara being a consistent ODI performer, Dilhara was put to the back burners of SL cricket. He was always a strike bowler for SL. Every sportsman needs a fair run of consecutive matches and series to develop rhythm and form, and he was denied this. His style of bowling is ideal for bouncy wickets, so I'm not sure whether he'll be at his absolute best in English conditions, but if he gets to play all 3 tests, he will definitely put his heart and soul into it. He can be an excellent weapon for Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa in December/January where the conditions suit him brilliantly, and where he performed so well on his maiden tour which was SL's last tour there waaaay back in 2002! This is why we Lankans feel we get step motherly treatment for tours

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    If Dilhara and the new brigade performs with Dilshan's guidance some so called legends who plays for IPL and not for the country in tests may see stars.... also the so called best batters in Sri Lanka ( who did not contribute anything to these wins but dropped two caches ) would be under pressure after they voiced support for this non test playing legend.... and opted to leave IPL sooo late..... let's wait and see....

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    dear dilhara-iam sure that u will be 100%succesful onthis tour.although u r a devout cathalic i am sure that u willl receive the blessings of tripple gem.blessings of buddha dhamma &sanga.show the true grit &courage of RAGAMA clan!good luck.

  • on May 23, 2011, 17:04 GMT

    What were we doing with Mahela and Sanga as captains ?? The Ausies. Indians and all loved them as they new they were not tough and shrewed as Ranatunge / Silva combination. Now comes the Dilshan / xxxx combination. If they perform all may wonder what spineless captains we were having during the last two worldcups.

  • WPDDESILVA on May 23, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    He should have played for Sri Lanka instead of slow pace bowlers like Kulasekara. No one was interested on Dilhara and i think lot of people under estimate his ability to bowl those split finger slower balls and 90mph deliveries. I hope he cement his position as the leading Test bowler. He deserves it!

  • sanath007 on May 23, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    he got to prove alot of people wrong including myself who never enjoyed of him being selected as a Sri Lankan paceman. but now he's the only one with enough experience left.so i hope Dilhara will prove his point. he has the talent

  • dsig3 on May 23, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    Fundamentally flawed player. Does he still bowl no balls regularly? How is he a spearhead? From what I have seen Kuluas......the guy who bowls inswingers is far better than him.

  • Agnar on May 23, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    I was not a big fan of Dilhaara but I had no doubts he has potential. What he has done in England impressed me. He is your chance. Grab it and show what you can do. This is a big responsibility. If Dilhara fires, we can dislodge the "best test team" of the world. I think there is wide spread bias against SL cricket. We won the world cup once and came to finals twice after that. But for pundits (in cricinfo and elsewhere) still Sri Lanka is a second class cricket team. When a Sri Lankan player score a hundred they report every dropped catch and all SL teams successes are given to individual players like Sanath and Murali ("SL can not win without so and so"). Don't forget that SL team produced those players. (No disrespect for their natural talent.) They love to show statistics to prove that SL wins more at home. Put down "sub-continent" pitches. Well more people in the sub-continent consider cricket thir major sport now. Shouldn't sub-continent pitches be the norm?

  • BanBouncers on May 23, 2011, 12:04 GMT

    Those armchair critics, can you all just shut up and give Dilhara a chance to prove himself??

  • hiran22 on May 23, 2011, 11:36 GMT

    Go Dilhara go!!! I always admired your talent and wkt taking ability. Was furious at times with selectors for not selecting you for Test matches. Not so long ago, SL use to pick one-day type medium pace bowlers for Test matches at the expense of real Test quality fast bowlers like you. It went unnoticed or didn't matter whole lot as Murali used to get most of the wkts(Vassy playing the support role). Still theres no excuse for not selecting a good fast bowlers like you. My only advice to you is keep u'r self fit, listen to your body and look after your self, your natural talent would take care of the rest!!! Good luck big man!!!

  • LALITHKURUWITA on May 23, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    @Ruwan Abeysekera Yes he will clear all doubts in this tour that he is consistent in no-balls, wides, short ball and all other craps as usual. He is the guy like Aktar never improved. Lee was dropped for No balls and wides, then he worked hard and became a very good bowler. This will be Fernando's last test series and new bowlers will do much better than BRAAANANDOOO.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on May 23, 2011, 9:45 GMT

    He is another Aktar. If he is good in 1 match, then he fails in another 4 to 5 matches. Only God knows which match he is going to be good. As he mentioned himself this is the very very good opportunity for him to show his consistency. I am sure at the end of the series everybody will forget his name and all other young bowlers would have done better as usual.

  • Lord.emsworth on May 23, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    A lot of people including this writer said at Dilhara's selection that he would be more or less a disaster. Well, we may all have to eat our words...just maybe! As Sa'adi so very affably puts it the fact that such responsibility has been thrusted upon Fernando might be the final making of him. As Shakespeare put it some achieve greatness, som are born to greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. Kudos also to Ferhnando for doing something to curb the flow of no-balls.

  • Main_Culprit on May 23, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    It might not be fare to unofficially call the place he lives in, the 'NO-Ball Junction'. But Dilhara has to know that no player in international cricket, gets a decade to prove his worth. Some talented cricketer's like Waruna Waragoda and many others didn't even get one chance. It's all about grabbing the given opportunity to prove one deserves his place. So Dilhara has to consider himself lucky. I'm still not convinced and believe the chance should have been given to youngsters, instead of picking him. But know that you have the chance, hope you prove me wrong….

  • on May 23, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    We have lost two potential match winning pacies Malinga and Vaas. Dilhara is the best option available to fill the void based on his experience and familiarity with English conditions. In spite of several inconsistent performances there had been some outstanding bowling by him at times in all forms of cricket. That means he has talent. His split finger slower ball is very hard to detect by batsmen. It is not the time to make sarcastic remarks like "Mayan Mansilu". Our team needs all possible encouragement at this stage. Dilshan has proved to be a very innovative captain who can lead from the front in the two tour matches. I think if we play as a team we could suprise Engalnd in this series.

  • Supun679 on May 23, 2011, 5:13 GMT

    i used to think this guy was a pretty inconsistent bowler... but it looks like hes put genuine effort into reducing the number of no balls he bowls. should be interesting to watch the rest of the series

  • chandau on May 23, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    What people dont seem to realize is that Dilhara started playing cricket after 18. He was playing BB at scool and they made him play a match to make up the numbers. In the early years he lacked proper direction as a fast bowler because people were focusing on the speed only and not the action. It is to his credit he has the most leathal slow ball among contemporary pacies. HE is also a rhytem bowler as his action was not developped at an early age. So many things have to fall into place before he can keep on bowling fast and straight and that has not been often enough. Somehow we have lacked a proper bowling coach, who could bring out the best in people like Cooly who made guys like Jimmy Anderson world class performers. Its a pity people like Rumesh and Ravi Rathnayake ddo not want any part of the politics that SLC is.

  • on May 23, 2011, 2:52 GMT

    to harsha CD..malinga is above dilhara in any format..recorde and class shows it..anyway gilhara is 2nd best in test since he make the debut..not given enough chances in tests..

  • on May 23, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    Congratulations Dilhara.Now you have got a chance to prove that you are not what critics talk about.You are a grate stalwart as a fast bowler.May you have peace from above to prove that you are a grate bowler.What a cheek mayan mansilu is to talk about a bowler like you. all the best to you for the future .

  • Deepfreezed on May 22, 2011, 20:28 GMT

    he is in prime fast bowling age now. There is a reason people say that prime for fast bowlers is after 30.

  • HarshaCD on May 22, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Dilhara`s beeen our best test fast bowler. He is above Malinga in test performances. This guy could go above 150 km when he is bowling well. And looks like he is doing it now. Still remember the tough time he gave to Kallis and Co. in a test in SA. Never seen such a devastating spell from a Sri Lankan fast bowler since then.

  • ranga_s on May 22, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    Dilhara is a rhythm bowler....MI didn't give him a single game and continuously played Lasith Malinga to say the least given Malinga's got a injury prone leg....Anyhow the lost rhythm was shown in the first innings but gradually found it and if he sticks to basics like running hard to the wicket and hit the deck 3/4 up the track....that top order from England will have some real bowling to deal with....things are pretty simple for Dilhara....if U dont ball no balls that means u are bowling well and taking wickets....so DON' ball no balls....Best of luck Dilhara....

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    Dilhara is always being one of my favorite SL fast bowlers. very true, he has under achieved for the talent he has - great physique foe a fast bowler and a nice whippy action. In contradictory to what most people think, I think he is a very clever and intelligent bowler. he is in control but it looks sometimes pressure gets to him - which will naturally when so many ppl doubt him. I hope, he come in this series and here after and prove everyone wrong. I hope he come in this series and prove everyone wrong.

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:46 GMT

    No Ball Handiya. Funny. ok so u prove ur self in next 3 tests.. for no ball handiya shake.at least :D

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    Feel sorry for you for few years of your carrer. but dont forget representing the Coountry is the best thing to do in this world and you did that all boys does not have luck. still remmberthat last over for bopara in 2007 WC match, awesome over it was. and seen you in the bench of WC 2011 and IPL4 felt bad now u got chance give your best shot.ALL the Best

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    Dilhara is asset to Sri lankan team. he is fast can ball consistently at 140kmph. He can bowl good bouncers and can be lethal on his day. Talented player he has not lived up to the expectations. This time, he can clear all the doubts by performing in English conditions. He will be a very good baller if he is concerned about his line and length. It is shame to insult him coiniing names. The commentator must be banned for his bad conduct in reporting

  • vattic on May 22, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    I really feel very bad about dilhara, how others have treated him so far.Hope he can show the m. finger to that sri lankan commentator who made a lot of critics on him after the english tour....all the best buddy.....from another fernando(shanaka)

  • LittleTommyTittleMouse on May 22, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Dillaraaaaa Fernadaaaaa !!!! ... This man should have played in the 2011 Cup Final .. Dilshan's aggression already paying off ... Forget about being defensive & saving matches .. it's gotta be all out Agression !! Go Lanka go !!!

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:21 GMT

    poor fellow... i really do hope dilhara and the other newbies perform really well even if we lose.. it'll show 'some of the players' (who think sl cricket is nothing without them) that there are many talented youngsters who can step up and do the job for the team...

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:21 GMT

    poor fellow... i really do hope dilhara and the other newbies perform really well even if we lose.. it'll show 'some of the players' (who think sl cricket is nothing without them) that there are many talented youngsters who can step up and do the job for the team...

  • LittleTommyTittleMouse on May 22, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    Dillaraaaaa Fernadaaaaa !!!! ... This man should have played in the 2011 Cup Final .. Dilshan's aggression already paying off ... Forget about being defensive & saving matches .. it's gotta be all out Agression !! Go Lanka go !!!

  • vattic on May 22, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    I really feel very bad about dilhara, how others have treated him so far.Hope he can show the m. finger to that sri lankan commentator who made a lot of critics on him after the english tour....all the best buddy.....from another fernando(shanaka)

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    Dilhara is asset to Sri lankan team. he is fast can ball consistently at 140kmph. He can bowl good bouncers and can be lethal on his day. Talented player he has not lived up to the expectations. This time, he can clear all the doubts by performing in English conditions. He will be a very good baller if he is concerned about his line and length. It is shame to insult him coiniing names. The commentator must be banned for his bad conduct in reporting

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:41 GMT

    Feel sorry for you for few years of your carrer. but dont forget representing the Coountry is the best thing to do in this world and you did that all boys does not have luck. still remmberthat last over for bopara in 2007 WC match, awesome over it was. and seen you in the bench of WC 2011 and IPL4 felt bad now u got chance give your best shot.ALL the Best

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:46 GMT

    No Ball Handiya. Funny. ok so u prove ur self in next 3 tests.. for no ball handiya shake.at least :D

  • on May 22, 2011, 18:50 GMT

    Dilhara is always being one of my favorite SL fast bowlers. very true, he has under achieved for the talent he has - great physique foe a fast bowler and a nice whippy action. In contradictory to what most people think, I think he is a very clever and intelligent bowler. he is in control but it looks sometimes pressure gets to him - which will naturally when so many ppl doubt him. I hope, he come in this series and here after and prove everyone wrong. I hope he come in this series and prove everyone wrong.

  • ranga_s on May 22, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    Dilhara is a rhythm bowler....MI didn't give him a single game and continuously played Lasith Malinga to say the least given Malinga's got a injury prone leg....Anyhow the lost rhythm was shown in the first innings but gradually found it and if he sticks to basics like running hard to the wicket and hit the deck 3/4 up the track....that top order from England will have some real bowling to deal with....things are pretty simple for Dilhara....if U dont ball no balls that means u are bowling well and taking wickets....so DON' ball no balls....Best of luck Dilhara....

  • HarshaCD on May 22, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Dilhara`s beeen our best test fast bowler. He is above Malinga in test performances. This guy could go above 150 km when he is bowling well. And looks like he is doing it now. Still remember the tough time he gave to Kallis and Co. in a test in SA. Never seen such a devastating spell from a Sri Lankan fast bowler since then.

  • Deepfreezed on May 22, 2011, 20:28 GMT

    he is in prime fast bowling age now. There is a reason people say that prime for fast bowlers is after 30.