Romesh Kaluwitharana May 16, 2010

Tiny Tim turns tyrant opener

How a wannabe medium-pacer was turned into a keeper by a priest

First time I was spotted as a potential wicketkeeper
There weren't many keepers and I was quite small, so the coach at my school, a priest by the name of Brother Gurusinghe, said "You should stand up and be wicketkeeper," so I gave it a go. When I was about 15 he went off the island for three months, and while he was away I started bowling. I wanted to be a medium-pacer. But when Brother Gurusinghe came back and found out, he shouted at me and said in no uncertain terms: no more bowling. I didn't like it at the time, but I know now if he hadn't said that, I would have ended up being a horrible bowler who could bat a little. But for him, I would never have played for Sri Lanka.

First Test hundred
My first hundred was memorable because it was on my debut, at the SSC in 1992. I remember thinking 132 not out is not a bad start. I went in on a hat-trick ball. Greg Matthews had removed Arjuna Ranatunga and then Marvan Atapattu, but then the umpires stopped for lunch. I had a nervous 45-minute wait, wondering and struggling what to do to stop the hat-trick. When we went back out on to the field, Matthews took four minutes to set his field. He didn't say a word to me. I played a forward-defensive to the hat-trick ball, kept it out and went on to bat well. Shane Warne got a hammering in that game, and if I remember rightly I hit 26 fours.

First overseas tour
To India in 1990-91. It was quite a disappointing tour for me because I only played in one one-day international and didn't even get to bat in the match. We lost the first two ODIs, which is why I came in for the third one. We won that game, so it is a good memory because I got off to a fair start and the team won.

First thoughts of becoming an opener
On the 1996 tour of Australia, Arjuna Ranatunga started to think ahead to the World Cup and how we would go about things. He wanted me to open the innings with Sanath Jayasuriya, and the tactic he wanted from us was to attack from the start. We soon became successful together and I like to believe it played a part in us winning that World Cup.

First on the list of preferred Test venues
It has to be the MCG. It is a huge place where you want to do well. The atmosphere there is electric and that makes you want to perform.

Mark Pennell is the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport