Coaching is more challenging than playing – Atapattu


In an exclusive chat with Cricbuzz, the former Sri Lankan captain looked back at his noteworthy career, his tenure as the captain of the national team, coaching stints and views on the current Sri Lankan team.

If we jog our memory down the lane, you made your Test debut in 1990, but after your debut, you didn’t open your account in five of your first six innings. It was only in 1997 you compiled a Test hundred against India at Mohali. So how were you able to overcome a barren run extending over seven long years?

One thing I did know at the time I got a hundred [against India] after all those zeroes was how I did it. Reflecting back how I got it, I can only put it across to the determination, the faith I had in me, my technique, my ability and the support that I got and the clarity that I had in my mind, [in] my head to play for Sri Lanka again. And the pleasure that I was going to get by playing for Sri Lanka, that motivated me.

After that horror start, runs started to flow. You scored a hundred in the tri-series final against England in 1998, you scored a double hundred in Galle against England, 185 at Lord’s and also that century against an Australian attack comprising Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne at Colombo (SSC). Five-six years of consistency.. so how do you look back at that phase of your career?

I mean, see when the individual reaches maturity, when he becomes familiar with his environment, surroundings, his opponents – run-making becomes so much easier. And it makes no difference to me, I was lucky enough to have been considered for selection after all those zeroes that I got initially. There wasn’t this much of competition back then. When you as I said reach a certain stage, I think if you have that solid foundation, it becomes much easier than not having one.

What about support that you received from seniors like Arjuna Ranatunga? How do you look at the role seniors played in helping you to come good?

When it comes from… when the words of wisdom comes from the seniors, your captains, your senior players, it tells you something more than what the papers have to say, what the TV channel has to say. You know then they are genuine. The captain says a word about a player… because if he says something that is not true, it will only harm his team. You know those words are for real. Things like that boost your confidence.

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