Meet family man Kumar Dharmasena

By Harshini Weeraratne

Kumar Dharmasena, who made a name in the field of cricket nationally and internationally, is the youngest in the international umpiring field. Nicknamed quite appropriately at school as “Pansal Kumaraya” (for his pencil thin stature) and “Unanduwa” (the determined one), Kumar and wife Dushyanthi agreed to share some of their experiences with The Nation.

Q. Shall we begin with your being the youngest cricket umpire internationally?
When I was selected as one of the 12 to the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires I felt quite honoured not only for myself but also for the country. When I was playing for the Sri Lanka team and was thinking about retiring from playing cricket, I was very keen to find some occupation related to the cricket field. I am so glad this wish was fulfilled almost immediately.

Q. What was your wife’s reaction to your getting into work with such a busy schedule?
I took that decision based on the recommendations of a few close friends of mine. At that time the idea of retiring from cricket and becoming an umpire was vehemently opposed by my parents. My wife Dushyanthi said, “Kumar before they drop you from the side you retire and become an umpire.” Those words were an inspiration to me. My wife never lays down rules or interferes with my decisions. That makes me happy. The one who watches play the closest in cricket is the umpire who makes the decisions, and with my love for the game, I consider myself fortunate to be in that position.

Q. Your first decision as an umpire got thrown back at you, did it not?
On January 29, 2009 in the middle I made my first decision that was at an ODI at Dambulla played between India and Sri Lanka. I made the decision that dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and it was referred to the third umpire and the playback showed I had been wrong. Later I felt I had made a foolish decision. I felt bad about it. Off the field I battled for answers as to where I had gone wrong, and how I should take decisions responsibly in future. I learnt quite a bit from the experience and that prevails even today in my decision-making. Today I am careful not to make mistakes and my decisions are made after a long deliberation.

Q. Can you mention an unforgettable incident in your job?
Once when West Indian Shiv Chanderpaul was batting an appeal was made to me for a catch. There was a doubt and I did not hear any sound of the ball touching the bat. I decided not to give it out but when I saw Chanderpaul tapping the pitch with his bat I began to wonder why he was doing so and saw him watching me slyly. That gave me the impression it was the behaviour of someone who knew he was out. I raised my finger to confirm his dismissal. The referral showed him to have clearly made contact. Had I decided otherwise that day I would have clearly not done justice to the opponents. I was very happy after that right decision.

Q. How many international games have you officiated in so far?
I have officiated in six Test matches, thirty ODI’s and three T20s.
Q. Do you feel more comfortable as head umpire, leg umpire of third umpire?
I like to be in the middle where I can watch proceedings best, where time passes fast since it is live and happening it is quite a memorable experience.

Q. Your children may be happy that their father is talented and known worldwide?
They look up to me, I gather that from what I hear when they talk. My son is always full of questions about cricket and requests for T-shirts and autograph books signed by popular cricketers. He wants to know what Sachin (Tendulkar) does when batting. They are happy that I am connected to cricket. He questions me while watching cricket. Although the children don’t understand the intricacies of the game they are proud about my international connections.

Q. What is your next goal in your career as an umpire?
Umpiring an Ashes Test series between England and Australia is one of my ambitions. I am sure I will get that opportunity next year.

Q. Dushyanthi, what do you feel about Kumar’s sporting talents and profession?
When I got the news that he has been selected for umpiring I was very happy. Even today that feeling is there. Kumar’s life is built around cricket therefore he will not get the same joy working at any other career. He has to do a job connected with that sport. Just as he was steady and dependable as a cricketer so will he be as an umpire. As his wife I am happy and proud.

Q. He has to go abroad often, how does this affect his contribution to the family?
Considering his playing days Kumar actually spends more time now at home – about eight months in a year - in his profession as an umpire. That makes our bonds very strong. When Kumar goes abroad all of us count the days till he’s back and our elder daughter takes it badly. However, just before he gets out on tour he takes care of all the family needs especially the children. When he is on tour he speaks to us on Skype. Since I understand his career it makes it easy to work on matters concerning us. Also Kumar is never lacking in his responsibilities and looks into the needs of the children.

Q. You have a boy to go in Kumar’s footsteps, how talented is he?
The son is Kavishka Dharmasena a grade seven student at Royal College. He is in the school cricket team in addition he is training at the Sanath Jayasuriya cricket academy. Our son takes after Kumar who was a slow developer. However if he too gets into the game I will be happy. But as a mother I would say that my firm wish is for him to do well in his studies which I think is the right thing.

Q. How about the other children?
Our daughter is the second in the family she is Ashalya Tashia studying at Vishaka Vidyalaya in grade six. Our othr girl is Amanya Malisa in grade two at Visaka, and the little one is just ten months she is Diyenka; they are the members of the family.

Q. Do you do the cooking for the family?
When Kumar is at home I do dishes he likes to eat. He likes village cooking mostly and Jak is his specialty. Kumar likes sweetmeats too. When Kumar is away my father keeps us company. His help makes it easier to carry on with the daily chores.


‘Save the Globe’ cycle tour comes to Sri Lanka
R. Rajah Ratnasingham Goonesekera is 62 years old, a German citizen born in Sri Lanka. His father is a Tamil and mother is a Sinhalese. A professional cyclist he has cycled around the world to campaign the “Save the Globe” concept for five years attempting to set a Guinness world record. He is fluent in German, English, Sinhala and Tamil languages.
Army sergeant JHNC Adikari of Gajaba Regiment has joined him on the Sri Lanka tour and many more will join at many cities to plant a tree and ride at least one kilometre to carry the message “Save the Globe”. Pan Asian Power PLC, a company which produces Hydropower and promotes “Green Energy” to “Save the Globe” has sponsored the Sri Lanka tour.
They toured Colombo and paid tribute to President Mahinda Rajapaksa who celebrated his birthday on November 18 and also paid a visit to the Prime Minister’s office and the Ministry of Sports.
“This programme will boost the image of Sri Lanka and create more awareness of the scenic beauty through both local and foreign media. Your kind assistance will undoubtedly help us to achieve the goals of this noble project,” said Goonesekera.
“I had this wish to cycle around the world to campaign for “Save the Globe” and requested everyone to plant a tree, cycle one kilometre and minimise or stop man-made harm to the environment. I’m requesting the support of the President, all Ministers and Members of Parliament and all three armed forces and Department of Police, local and international media, UN, WHO, ICRC, corporate sector and public at large. Your support and the true warmth will inculcate positive vibes and people living all over the world will take note of the need to “Save the Globe.
“Many others will join me at different parts of Sri Lanka and worldwide. “Speed & Solution” is my philosophy and I urge everyone to support me to achieve my goal and this noble project by acting now to “Save the Globe.” After completing the tour in Sri Lanka, I will tour the world in five (5) years according to weather patterns and the convenience of the leaders in respective countries and also attempt to set a Guinness World Record. We have already communicated with authorities.”


Bring our cricket back to where it belongs
By Dyan Pathiravithana
Leave alone winning, try to explain to someone new to cricket how a team could lose from a winning position. Maybe it is not the first time it has happened in the history of the game what matters is why it happens to us Sri Lankans over and over again. Both those games we lost from a winnable situation and somebody must put up his hand and accept the responsibility.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has become like old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard it is bare to the bone. The cricketers have not been paid their dues are stories we hear? If somebody thinks it’s just another load of minor corporative employees they got it all wrong and cannot escape from the criticism, both national and international.
Maybe embarrassment from such things can affect sportsmen on the field when they sledge each other over these things. If it has not already happened we must make sure it will never happen. A sportsman should not be in a negative frame of mind as most of the spontaneous decisions on the field need clarity of thought.
Some are blaming the spate of cricket failures on the skipper Dilshan who is wanting in many aspects of what makes a winning captain, For one thing he has never lead by example he is more or less concerned about being the star rather than being a friend in need to his players like Afridi was when he lead Pakistan. However they did not differ from each other where gestures and reactions were concerned when things went sour.
Take the most important matter of selecting the team where the selections are based on performance but when players fail on tour it is something that cannot be excused. Selectors put their entire faith on players who performed best in their most recent engagements and when these players fail the selectors are in a fix unable to explain the meagre performances. This should be addressed immediately and the player’s mistakes rectified or at the worst, if no change, they should be replaced before they do more damage to our image.
We cannot blame selectors for such actions beyond their imagination from players who fail after one good performance and many culprits can be thought of who simply came into being and lost it all so suddenly. This may be attributed to their coaching received as youngsters where emphasis on coping with the prevailing situation was never in the agenda of the coach. That aspect of the training can be said to be far more important than being turned into the world’s best only to perform when able and not regularly just as it happened with youngsters who were spoken of highly such as Kapugedera of Sri Lanka and Ashraful both shining stars at seventeen. Compare them to other beginners such as Sir Garfield Sobers and Sachin Tendulkar, also a seventeen-year-old and a sixteen year old who made it to the top and reached the zenith in cricket due to being groomed for it as youngsters.
We have to make up our minds where we want to stand with cricket, as it is we have to be independent in our make up with team building and selection. We are still enraptured by past greats but doing nothing to produce talented cricketers to emulate them. Why did we not recruit Muralitharan as he retired from the game to be our spin bowling coach? It clearly shows that we were never planning for the future where our spin department was concerned. We will keep on blaming each other without doing any future planning for cricket, a game for which there is such deep-rooted fervor in the country.
Let us preserve the high regard for Sri Lanka cricket at international level, which was earned the hard way by our past cricketers, while developing talent for the future.
It would not be a bad idea to start rebuilding our cricket under the leadership of someone who has been a successful captain of the national team previously, which hopefully may bring our cricket back to where it belongs.


Olympic Academy Sessions in Bandarawela

By Dhammika Ratnaweera
The 11th edition of the Olympic Academy conducted by the National Olympic Committee (NOC), is scheduled to conclude today (Nov 27) at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board, National Holiday Resort in Bandarawela. Forty two students from Sri Lankan universities and few selected higher education institutes once again get this great opportunity to follow this valuable Olympic Academy session during the four-day programme. This is also a good opportunity to be involved in various activities with professionals such as military officers, recognised sportsmen and women and sports officials. As in the last two years, young persons from the NOC’s of Maldives and Pakistan are participating in the Academy sessions.
At the end of the day the closing ceremony will be followed by a campfire adding more attraction to the event. The course director B.L.H Perera is to arrange an outdoor trip to Demodara Railway Station and Rawana Ella and it will be very interesting for both local and foreign students.
The President of the NOC Hemasiri Fernando said, “This Olympic programme is important for the participants and they will receive a valuable certificate after the course. In addition the best student, selected on performance at this course, will get a chance to taker part at the International Olympic Course scheduled to be held in Greece. Both players and officials in the sports field should follow this course which is an annual event of the NOC and is showing successful results for the last ten years.
“We must especially thank the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for their keenness to promote this programme here as it is one of the best programmes among the South Asian Region,” added the NOC Chief.
The opening ceremony was held last Thursday where Sports Ministry Secretary Udaya Senevirathne was chief guest. The Sports Director General Ranjani Jayakody will be the chief guest at the closing ceremony today (Nov 27).


Death of former Footballer

The former St. Mary’s College and Nawalapitiya District Footballer SHM Abuthahir passed away last Sunday and his Janaza took place on Monday at the Katuppali Jumma Mosque burial grounds in front of a large gathering.
Abuthahir is the father of ‘The Nation’s’ Kandy sports photographer Sabri Abuthahir. (Mariks)


On advice of National Sports Council

Sports Ministry to bring in foreign coaches

The National Sports Council (NSC) was established under the chairmanship of Dr. Maiya Gunasekara to render advice to the Ministry of Sports in finding solutions to the problems encountered by the sports associations; and in finding new talent from the rural areas and bring them to the national sporting squads.
The Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s attention has been drawn to bring in foreign coaches for selected sporting events on the information gathered by the NSA in consultation with the national sports associations.
The NSC has suggested that foreign coaching should be extended to selected sports such as diving, badminton, athletics, hockey, squash, boxing, and judo. The Minister of Sports has advised the relevant officials.
The Ministry of Sports states that as per NSC’s advice it is intended to develop rifle shooting in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka has the advantage of winning 6-7 medals in rifle shooting which consists of 20 events, the Ministry of Sports’ attention has been drawn to establishing mobile training units.
Further the Ministry of Sports is looking towards engaging shooters from the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The NSC has advised the Ministry of Sports to facilitate athletics with sports psychologists. They have also forwarded many suggestions to uplift sports events such as rifle shooting, netball, hockey, rugby, football, and judo.


Saracens Sixes cricket champs

Saracens SC emerged champions at the 6th Cambrians Cricket Wing Premier Sixes tournament held at Prince of Wales College grounds, Moratuwa last weekend. They beat BRC by five wickets in the final.

The champion team seated (from left): Sandun Ratnatunga, Lahiru Sri Lakmal, Amila Sandaruwan (Best Batsman), Mohamed Aslam, Surin Silva (Man of the Tournament), Nuwan Kavinda, Ashan Peiris. Standing (from left): Prince of Wales POG Susantha Mendis, Cambrian Cricket Wing President Badra Seneviratne, Western Province Councillor Maurice Wijeratne, Kalpa Palliyaguru and K Mathivanan.Absent: Rathika Rajkumar (Captain), Amila Mendis, Dinesh Kumarasinghe (Coach) and Thushara Cooray (Manager)