Samaraweera aims for county success
Thilan Samaraweera, the Sri Lanka batsman who announced his international retirement earlier this week, is looking to make a career with English county Worcestershire before he eventually quits the game.
Samaraweera decided to quit Tests and ODIs after he was left out of the 15-member squad named for the first Test against Bangladesh but will continue to play first-class cricket.
"I want to do well for Worcestershire so that it will open the doors for other younger players from Sri Lanka to play county cricket," Samaraweera said. "I tried to get into the county circuit for the last five years but I couldn't because every county is focusing on signing up Australians and South Africans. I had a chat with coach Graham Ford in 2012 and it was largely due to his efforts that I got the county contract. I want to make the most of it."
Samaraweera said that it was former India batsman VVS Laxman who first got him interested in playing county cricket. Laxman played a couple of seasons for Lancashire, in 2007 and 2009. "When I met Laxman in Sri Lanka some years ago I spoke about getting to play for Lancashire. He told me that I should play county cricket because it improves your game as a professional and teaches you to take pressure and so on. Unfortunately I didn't get a break at that time. Now at this stage of my career I want to do well and pave the way for the youngsters."
Samaraweera, who leaves for England this week, said that he had no regrets quitting international cricket at the age of 36.
"I am happy the way I am leaving cricket although I have so many sad memories also. I was dropped three-four times in my career and every time they dropped me the selectors would say they want to bring a youngster in. They moved me around in the batting order often and the first player to get the chop from the selectors was always Thilan Samaraweera. I can't control that. But at the end of the day I am really happy with what I've achieved.
"I could have done better if I had scored 18-20 Test hundreds but when I started people never thought that I will end up playing 81 Tests and score over 5000 runs average nearly 50 and play in a World Cup final. When I started there were a lot of better players than me but I came to the top through sheer hard work and sacrifice. Hard work is the key word for me."
One of the blots on Samaraweera's career was the failure in his final international series, managing only 79 runs in six Test innings in Australia. "When the country needed me as a batsman in Test cricket I delivered but unfortunately people only remember the shot I played in my last innings at Sydney. It was a bad shot. When people meet me they always remind me about that shot. I was a bit disappointed playing that stroke. If we had another 70-80 runs it would have been another historical moment in our cricket. My dismissal and Angelo's (Mathews) run out was the turning point in that Test. But it happens in international cricket. You can go through bad patches in a series which you cannot help."