Sri Lanka news October 10, 2013

'Move to opener changed my career' - Dilshan

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Tillakaratne Dilshan said his decision to open the innings in Test cricket was the most important in his 14-year career, as he retired from Tests on Thursday.

Dilshan began Tests as a middle-order batsman and had had a middling career until the promotion to the top of the order in 2009. The move paid immediate divdends, as he hit six hundreds and scored 1327 runs at an average of 64.52, in the year.

"The 3-4 years I opened for my country I played with a lot of pride because I was able to give my team a lot of opportunities to win matches," he said. "In the middle order, sometimes, by the time I came to bat there were hardly any partners for me and I couldn't contribute much. I proved how much my team and I benefited from the move to open."

Dilshan was often aggressive at the top of the order, and at his best, could sap attacks and change the complexion of a match inside a session. His Test strike rate since 2009 was 72.79.

"When you open, at least one of the openers should be aggressive otherwise the bowlers will get on top," he said. "When you get a loose ball you must not think that it is the first ball of the innings but hit it for four. You must put the pressure back on the bowler even if it is in a Test match."

"You need to score fast if you want to create situations to win. After I became an opener I proved that being aggressive I created many opportunities for my team to win. If you take any Test side today one of the openers plays aggressive cricket. That has become the norm today."

Dilshan said his decision to quit Test cricket was taken because of the paucity of Test matches at home and to enable Sri Lanka the time to goorm a youngster in his place.

"I started my career in Zimbabwe and planned to retire also in Zimbabwe but unfortunately the tour was postponed. We don't have Test cricket at home till 2015 so I decided to take the opportunity to retire without saying goodbye on the cricket ground." "We have a lot of talented young batsmen coming and they should be given enough opportunities to make the grade in Test cricket. There are two Test series coming up one in the UAE against Pakistan and one in Bangladesh and it is easy for a young batsman to get adjusted to the wickets there before he goes to England next summer. It is with that intention that I stepped down so that whoever takes my place in the Test team has time to adjust and gain the experience.

"I could have easily played Test cricket for another 2-3 years in all three formats but if all three senior batsmen - Sangakkara, Mahela and me - go out together it would create a big vacuum to fill in the openers and in the middle order batting. That is why I decided to quit from Test cricket early so that another youngster could be groomed in my place and benefit from the experience of playing with Mahela and Sanga."

Dilshan singled out Kaushal Silva and Kusal Perera as his possible replacements Test side.

"There are about 2-3 youngsters who can fill my shoes, like Kaushal Silva and Kusal Perera. In my opinion, Kusal has a long future ahead of him. I have confidence that he will become a successful opening batsman in the future. If you give him opportunities to play 3-day and 4-day cricket he will get the experience to play Test cricket."

For Dilshan the most memorable moment of his Test career was being awarded his Test cap against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo in 1999.

"Tears came to my eyes on that day. To win a Test cap at that time was a great honour because there were a lot of top-class cricketers playing like Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama, Sanath Jayasuriya, Hashan Tillakaratne and Marvan Atapattu," he said. "They were cricketers who had contributed a lot towards Sri Lanka cricket so to win a Test cap while they were still around was a proud moment for me. That moment is still fresh in my mind. It is a moment to cherish in a cricketer's life."

Dilshan will continue to play limited-overs cricket for Sri Lanka, and hopes to stay with the team until the 2015 World Cup. "We have two World Cups coming up quickly - the World T20 in about four months and the 2015 World Cup in another one and a half years. My presence in the team is more important for these two one-day tournaments. That is why I took the decision to remain in the game and play in these two formats."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ogjoachim on October 15, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Hat's up for Dilly…. I respect his decision as I respect him… Yes he is one of the best in the Sri Lankan team and he will be missed for sure….. Thank you for doing your part for our country we are all grateful for all your hard work and time… You have brought so much pride to our country as well not to for get….. A cricketing short in your name in the book of cricket….. Good luck & God bless you.

  • KingOwl on October 14, 2013, 0:21 GMT

    I am a huge fan of Dilshan. I think he often does not get the accolades he deserves because they go to Sanga and Mahela (mind you, I like them both). But Dilshan has been a great player for SL, as a batsman and fielder all the time, and as a bowler, every now and then. I hope he will help SL win more matches in one day and T20 formats. BTW, It's a great photo, Dilshan and his wife together. Moving moment.

  • Kirstenfan on October 12, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    How can Sti Lanka only play test cricket at home in 2015, that is beyond ridiculous? South Africa hasn't played there since 2006! With the bcci and their nonsense, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand should get together and play more tests amongst themselves, and say get lost to India, Australia and England

  • AnkTheHunk on October 11, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    quite humble of him to make way for the youngsters & taking the lead as 1 of the senior members. A feat rarely seen in international cricket now a days

  • on October 11, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    dilshan is srilanka's shewag.Like all sri olankan cricketers he too is a great team man.I salute him to the test victory against SA in south africa.Dil you are simply great.

  • on October 11, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Like to be on a team with this guy any day of the week. He's a team player and brilliant in a lot of ways. Wish him all the best!

  • on October 11, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    Dil you have done an excellent job to the country. Your decision of declaring the Test retirement is absolutely right at this moment. All the very best to you!!

  • Akeeb21 on October 11, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Dilshan is a very good example for an Aggressive batting and his brilliant fielding, still remember his 193 against England at lords. fighting knock!! we will miss him in test cricket. all the best 'DILLY' .....

  • mark2011 on October 11, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    Great loss to SL cricket and world too... a good batsmen,useful bowler and excellent player with real team spirit giving always 100% to the team...still the best fielder in SL side even with young players....clearly he could have stayed another year or two but gutsy decision to retire and allow others to play....this announcement should not be overshadowed by SRTs retirement which is yet to happen...on the other hand 2 grate players announced thier retirement togther almost...certainly Dili willbe missed in SL test team and hope some younger player grab this opportunity and prospers in the game ....appreciate all you did Dilshan to the Sri Lankan cricket team and wish you great future for you life...!!!!

  • Rkeys on October 11, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Sri Lanka cricket's own "STREET FIGHTER". I like that. Good luck for the future, Dilly. Thank you for the memorable contributions, you gave us. And hoping for many more to come.........

  • ogjoachim on October 15, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Hat's up for Dilly…. I respect his decision as I respect him… Yes he is one of the best in the Sri Lankan team and he will be missed for sure….. Thank you for doing your part for our country we are all grateful for all your hard work and time… You have brought so much pride to our country as well not to for get….. A cricketing short in your name in the book of cricket….. Good luck & God bless you.

  • KingOwl on October 14, 2013, 0:21 GMT

    I am a huge fan of Dilshan. I think he often does not get the accolades he deserves because they go to Sanga and Mahela (mind you, I like them both). But Dilshan has been a great player for SL, as a batsman and fielder all the time, and as a bowler, every now and then. I hope he will help SL win more matches in one day and T20 formats. BTW, It's a great photo, Dilshan and his wife together. Moving moment.

  • Kirstenfan on October 12, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    How can Sti Lanka only play test cricket at home in 2015, that is beyond ridiculous? South Africa hasn't played there since 2006! With the bcci and their nonsense, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand should get together and play more tests amongst themselves, and say get lost to India, Australia and England

  • AnkTheHunk on October 11, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    quite humble of him to make way for the youngsters & taking the lead as 1 of the senior members. A feat rarely seen in international cricket now a days

  • on October 11, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    dilshan is srilanka's shewag.Like all sri olankan cricketers he too is a great team man.I salute him to the test victory against SA in south africa.Dil you are simply great.

  • on October 11, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Like to be on a team with this guy any day of the week. He's a team player and brilliant in a lot of ways. Wish him all the best!

  • on October 11, 2013, 12:31 GMT

    Dil you have done an excellent job to the country. Your decision of declaring the Test retirement is absolutely right at this moment. All the very best to you!!

  • Akeeb21 on October 11, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Dilshan is a very good example for an Aggressive batting and his brilliant fielding, still remember his 193 against England at lords. fighting knock!! we will miss him in test cricket. all the best 'DILLY' .....

  • mark2011 on October 11, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    Great loss to SL cricket and world too... a good batsmen,useful bowler and excellent player with real team spirit giving always 100% to the team...still the best fielder in SL side even with young players....clearly he could have stayed another year or two but gutsy decision to retire and allow others to play....this announcement should not be overshadowed by SRTs retirement which is yet to happen...on the other hand 2 grate players announced thier retirement togther almost...certainly Dili willbe missed in SL test team and hope some younger player grab this opportunity and prospers in the game ....appreciate all you did Dilshan to the Sri Lankan cricket team and wish you great future for you life...!!!!

  • Rkeys on October 11, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Sri Lanka cricket's own "STREET FIGHTER". I like that. Good luck for the future, Dilly. Thank you for the memorable contributions, you gave us. And hoping for many more to come.........

  • yorkslanka on October 11, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Good luck in the future Dilly. We have lost a very good player, also a brilliant fielder and our own street fighter on the pitch now you have decided to hang up your boots. Thank you for serving your country so well.

  • on October 11, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    Dilly, I remember when you made 167 against Zimbabwe, then I told myself Sri Lanka cricket is not yet doomed, we again have someone to take us forward and you proved me right! Thank you for the great moments and your contributions to cricket. It is sad to see you go and a tad too early, but your decision will set a great precedent for others to follow and also give a worthy youngster a chance as you intended. Thank you for the entertainment and the great cricket... You indeed are a the full cricketer with your brilliant fielding and great bowling!

  • on October 11, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    He's been a great servant for Sri Lanka cricket, and one of the most under-rated players in the world specially in test cricket. Farewell Dilshan, hoping to see action in the ODI and T20's

  • s.g.a. on October 11, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    Since he played to the team he is not consitant player, then he got sucsses because he start to play aggrassively. with open the inning, & his world class fielding, i mean good fielder never let down, he always worked hard & give his best to the team. thats why he can leave the test cricket him self,best wishes to u.

  • CricketChat on October 11, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    Like Shewag, Dilshan also started in middle order but found opening a lot easier because these guys can bat well only with an uncluttered mind. Opening gave them license to go after the bowling from the very start without any baggage and waiting in the hut a long time for their turn to bat. Glad he will still be playing short formats as he is one of the fittest players going around.

  • johnathonjosephs on October 10, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    Untimely announcement. His retirement is now going to be overshadowed by Tendulkars

  • on October 10, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    A brilliant cricketer...lovely to watch...you will be missed in test cricket !! :(

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on October 10, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    Dilshan was a distinguished opener at his peak and one of the most entertaining in the game. The inventor of the 'Dilscoop', a shot when played in today's cricket is a benchmark for that special kind of cricketer being both highly skilled and with a flair for the prestige. International cricket will miss him.

  • Lalindra2012 on October 10, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    He might not be as classy as Sanga or have a brilliant cricket brain like Mahela but the enthusiasm he shows one's he get's on the field is tremendous and he's a real competitor.It's unfortunate that he won't be able to take part in the World Test Championship if Sri Lanka get's selected, And he will be leaving behind a big void in the team specially in that opening slot and that cover point area. It's not like when Arjuna or Vaas was retiring, we all knew time was up for those players but for some one like Dilshan you get the feeling he had some more to offer to the Cricketing fraternity as a player...!

  • on October 10, 2013, 16:30 GMT

    Happy farewell Mr. Tillakaratne Dilshan. We are so thankful for your contribution in the field and balance provided to the team.

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  • on October 10, 2013, 16:30 GMT

    Happy farewell Mr. Tillakaratne Dilshan. We are so thankful for your contribution in the field and balance provided to the team.

  • Lalindra2012 on October 10, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    He might not be as classy as Sanga or have a brilliant cricket brain like Mahela but the enthusiasm he shows one's he get's on the field is tremendous and he's a real competitor.It's unfortunate that he won't be able to take part in the World Test Championship if Sri Lanka get's selected, And he will be leaving behind a big void in the team specially in that opening slot and that cover point area. It's not like when Arjuna or Vaas was retiring, we all knew time was up for those players but for some one like Dilshan you get the feeling he had some more to offer to the Cricketing fraternity as a player...!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on October 10, 2013, 19:18 GMT

    Dilshan was a distinguished opener at his peak and one of the most entertaining in the game. The inventor of the 'Dilscoop', a shot when played in today's cricket is a benchmark for that special kind of cricketer being both highly skilled and with a flair for the prestige. International cricket will miss him.

  • on October 10, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    A brilliant cricketer...lovely to watch...you will be missed in test cricket !! :(

  • johnathonjosephs on October 10, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    Untimely announcement. His retirement is now going to be overshadowed by Tendulkars

  • CricketChat on October 11, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    Like Shewag, Dilshan also started in middle order but found opening a lot easier because these guys can bat well only with an uncluttered mind. Opening gave them license to go after the bowling from the very start without any baggage and waiting in the hut a long time for their turn to bat. Glad he will still be playing short formats as he is one of the fittest players going around.

  • s.g.a. on October 11, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    Since he played to the team he is not consitant player, then he got sucsses because he start to play aggrassively. with open the inning, & his world class fielding, i mean good fielder never let down, he always worked hard & give his best to the team. thats why he can leave the test cricket him self,best wishes to u.

  • on October 11, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    He's been a great servant for Sri Lanka cricket, and one of the most under-rated players in the world specially in test cricket. Farewell Dilshan, hoping to see action in the ODI and T20's

  • on October 11, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    Dilly, I remember when you made 167 against Zimbabwe, then I told myself Sri Lanka cricket is not yet doomed, we again have someone to take us forward and you proved me right! Thank you for the great moments and your contributions to cricket. It is sad to see you go and a tad too early, but your decision will set a great precedent for others to follow and also give a worthy youngster a chance as you intended. Thank you for the entertainment and the great cricket... You indeed are a the full cricketer with your brilliant fielding and great bowling!

  • yorkslanka on October 11, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Good luck in the future Dilly. We have lost a very good player, also a brilliant fielder and our own street fighter on the pitch now you have decided to hang up your boots. Thank you for serving your country so well.