Tillakaratne Dilshan could not make an impact with the bat in his farewell game, but he has anointed Sri Lanka’s highest-scorer in the match as a possible successor. Dhananjaya de Silva batted at No.3, but has had success as an opener on this tour. He was Tamil Union Cricket Club’s highest wicket-taker in a triumphant first-class campaign this year, and has also begun fielding at backward point for Sri Lanka in Tests.
“I think Dhananjaya will be a good example to others,” Dilshan said. “He can bowl and he fields well. With the style that he batted with today, and the way he opened in the one dayers, you can tell he’s a player with a future. He opened with me for the Tamil Union team last year. I saw his talent about a year ago, and I told the coaches to look out for him. He and Kusal Mendis are two good young players for us. We can go a long way with them if they’re shown the right path. I think they’ll serve us well for years.”
Dilshan has spoken out about lack of support from teammates during his captaincy, but was optimistic about Sri Lanka’s future under Angelo Mathews leadership.
“Angelo has a lot of young players in the team, and I think it will be easy for him to control it in future,” he said. “Only Chandimal is there as an experienced player. I don’t think he will face too many obstacles. He will just have to develop the young players and move forward. I wish him well in that. If he can pick the right players for the job, based on their talent – that’s what any captain should do. He won’t have many problems then.”
Dilshan will now be missed as one of Sri Lanka’s premier fielders, almost as much as he will be as an opener. Though he made few runs in his final tour, he remained a livewire, well into his 39th year.
“Our young players have to work hard to become great fielders,” he said. “When I came to the team I came in as a wicketkeeper, but Romesh Kaluwitharana was already there. So I gave up the gloves and did a lot of work, by myself, on my fielding.
“Former fielding coach Trevor Penney helped me a lot with that. I remember back then we weren’t allowed to leave until we got 10 direct hits. The first time it took me more than 100 attempts. But within about a month I was able to get 10 direct hits in 12 – even 10 – attempts. The youngsters we have are good. They’ve got a good fielding coach from South Africa now. Our fielding is a bit low at the moment, so they need to improve that. I have the confidence that they will – and I’m more than happy to help them with that.”
Reflecting upon a 17-year career, Dilshan said he had great memories from most games he played, but made special mention of the 193 he hit at Lord’s, part of it with a broken thumb.
“There are many moments I won’t forget. I will never forget my debut, because I got there with a lot of difficulty. And any player loves to do well at Lord’s and get a hundred as well.” (ESPNcricinfo)
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent.