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
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
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
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
Q. What is your next goal in your career as an
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.