One of the first assignments of Tom Moody as Sri Lanka’s coach was the team’s tour of India in November 2005. Moody returned to Colombo convinced that young blood and fresh thinking was needed after his team was handed an embarrassing 6-1 defeat in the seven-match series. Soon he started going around watching first-class cricket and was impressed by the 18-year-old Chamara Kapugedera. He pushed for his inclusion for the tour of Australia two months later. On Sunday (August 27), Kapugedera will become Sri Lanka’s 20th ODI captain.
There were murmurs in cricket circles in Colombo when Moody campaigned for Kapugedera. There was good reasoning as well as Kapugedera had failed to make the cut for Sri Lanka’s Under-19 side. But Moody struck to his guns and was backed by chairman of selectors Lalith Kaluperuma.
Soon people realised why Moody was rooting for Kapugedera so much. He made his debut in Perth against an attack that comprised Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee and made 22. But his biggest impact came two games later when he helped Sri Lanka to a thrilling win over Australia in Adelaide in the first final of the tri-nation series. His 38 off 21 balls with two fours and three sixes stunned the Australians and Sri Lankan fans were hailing the next big thing in their cricket.
“Whatever that happened is in the past and I am not going to look at the past. It’s all about what’s going to happen from tomorrow,” Kapugedera said in his first briefing as the new captain.
Sri Lanka Cricket’s decision to hand him the captaincy has been criticised. Captain Upul Tharanga was found guilty of a second successive slow over rate offence inside three months and has been handed a two-match suspension. That prompted the selectors to elevate Kapugedera to captaincy although the squad has four others who have led Sri Lanka before – Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne.