In the ever-evolving landscape of cricket, where teams are increasingly adopting an aggressive brand of play, Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne believes that the anchor role still holds significance in his team’s batting lineup. Despite his absence from One-Day International (ODI) cricket for over two years, Karunaratne remains confident that he can contribute to the team’s success in the 50-over format.
Recalled to the national side for the ODI series against Afghanistan, the seasoned 35-year-old has been honing his skills by participating in the Dhaka Premier League, representing Shinepukur Cricket Club.
Karunaratne, who captained Sri Lanka in the 2019 ODI World Cup, continued to represent the team in three more series before being dropped. Reflecting on his performance during that period, he highlighted his consistent contribution with the bat, maintaining an average of over 40 and scoring several half-centuries. Additionally, he formed seven century partnerships with Kusal Janith and Avishka Fernando, effectively playing the anchor role as instructed by the selectors at the time.
However, with the introduction of new selectors, the team’s vision changed, leading to his exclusion.
“I think we did our part, with Kusal Janith and Avishka Fernando and I did my job really well and that is what is expected out of me from the selectors and I did that. Selectors told me to bat till 40th over and play the anchor role and I did that,” he said. “The new selectors told something different and their vision is different and what they want to bring to the Sri Lanka side and we respect it.”
Contrasting the strategies of some of the top cricketing nations, Karunaratne emphasized that Sri Lanka’s cricket culture differs significantly. Unlike countries like England, which possess a plethora of attacking cricketers who can aggressively approach the game from both ends, Sri Lanka’s resources are relatively limited in this regard.
Karunaratne acknowledged the team’s fitness and their ability to rotate the strike and find gaps in the field. He believes that relying on players who can bat for longer periods and allow others to bat around them has historically brought success to Sri Lankan cricket.
Therefore, he asserts the need for an anchor who can bat until the 40th over, providing stability and a platform for other batsmen to express themselves freely.
“I think we need someone who can bat for longer periods and so others can bat around him and that is how we have had success in Sri Lanka cricket. I believe we need someone who can bat till the 40th over,” he said. “I won’t be asking selectors because if I am good enough they will pick me. I am not going to chase the selectors and say I am capable because I am not like that. I want to score runs and talk with the bat.”
Rather than actively seeking the attention of the selectors and lobbying for his inclusion, Karunaratne prefers to let his performances do the talking. He acknowledges that if he proves himself to be good enough, the selectors will naturally recognize his abilities and include him in the squad. Karunaratne’s primary focus is to score runs consistently and demonstrate his value to the team through his batting prowess.