Held back from performing to full capability

Sachith battles unfair odds

By M Naushad Amit
Eighteen-year-old Sachith Dias, the talented off-spinner of Thurstan College is far tougher than he appears to be. Playing in his second and final year with the 1st XI team, young Sachith became the fourth bowler to reach the milestone of 50 wickets. He joined three leg-spinners, Prabath Jayasuriya and Maduka Liyanapathirana of Lumbini and Sachithra Perera of Ananda, who reached this milestone and were featured in these columns during the third term.

But few days ago young Sachith overtook Jayasuriya and Liyanapathirana to become the second highest wicket-taker behind Perera. He has claimed 72 scalps, five behind this seasons best tally, in 17 games but to achieve this feat the youngster had to face all odds.

If I take it from an individual point of view, I think 72 wickets in 17 matches is a great achievement considering some of the circumstances I went through. Collectively Im really not happy because, as a team, Thurstan had to face a few defeats and are yet to record a win this season. But Im really satisfied with my performance because I bettered my last years tally of 52, energetic Sachith who sounded a bit disappointed said.
Though Sachith struck his 50th wicket very late during the season, he has raced to become the second best bowler in the country, in school cricket, proving all his critics wrong.

Since this was my final 1st XI season I had a target of 100 wickets in 15 games. But due to various strange reasons things did not work out as I hoped. I still have got three more games and I hope at least to reach 90 wickets or more by then. But deep in my mind I feel that I actually reached 100 wickets, he added.
Sachith could be considered as one of the unluckiest spinners in schools cricket this season. He was the first option for a bowling change last season and a couple of games this season at Thurstan. But, due to some unaccountable reason, he was used as one of the last bowling options at many games. In addition, an umpteen numbers of catches were dropped by fielders causing many setbacks to the progress of the team as well as the efficiency of the well-committed spinner.

In the in-field itself nearly 30 catches have been dropped off my bowling. Not getting an early call to bowl also disappointed me many a time. Im a team player and as a team member I too feel sad in a way for having to face all these frustrations with the odds piled against me, knowing that I was not given the opportunity to do my best at the time I could have, Sachith went on to say.
Just like his twin brother Harith, who opens the innings for Thurstan, Sachith too has the ability to play a good knock. Last season he proved his capabilities as a useful all-rounder but this season Sachiths batting talent was not given the proper opportunity. According to him his favourite place in the batting order is at No. 5 or 6 but this season he had batted at all positions, reminiscing on the exact fate his uncle, Roshan Mahanama, had to face at international level some years back.

If Im assigned to bat or bowl at any position for the best interests of my team I would do so with my whole heart. But I really have this feeling that I could have done a lot more with the bat as well as I did with the ball. Ive scored just over 300 runs this season, with a couple of 30s and 40s and a half century. Those double figures came when I batted at top of the order. But Ive always managed to safeguard my wicket when I was sent lower in the order, Sachith further grieved.
With a not-so-good 1st XI season coming to an end within four weeks from now, Sachith has a few things in his mind to help his team as well. His main aim is to produce a sterling performance at the annual big match and sign off in style.

I always wanted to renew the match bag record in bowling at school which is held by me. I captured 12 wickets at a match last season and I wanted to capture five or more 10-wicket match bags this season. I still have got four matches to achieve this and Im certain that I can. If I do it a couple of times it can be useful to my wicket tally as well as turning the match situations. If I could help my team to record a few wins with my bowling I think thats something I will always cherish in my life, a hopeful Sachith further said.
With cricket providing valuable lessons in life for a youngster like Sachith, he was optimistic of progressing and having a bright future in cricket.

My parents have stood by me and my twin Harith during our good and bad times and they have been great towers of strength in our career. The season has varied for me and my brother; I have done better as a bowler while he struggled as a batsman. I have already received a few invitations to play for a couple of leading clubs for the forthcoming Premier Under-23 season. But firstly I hope to finish my school career on a high note and complete the GCE A/L exam before I decide on the next step. I will work hard to become a bowling all-rounder before I step into club cricket. Unlike other school cricketers for whom school cricket is a stepping stone in their careers, I and my brother had to go the hard way. We know the road ahead is tougher than what we go through now. I know my brother will always be there by me and I know our parents will be there for us when we go step by step on the ladder of cricket, optimistic Sachith stated.