Aravinda de Silva’s words are slow and measured unlike the batting mayhem he wreaked in his prime. The player of the final during the 1996 World Cup that Arjuna Ranatunga’s men won, Aravinda leads a happy life in a leafy Colombo suburb, with one eye on his son—an emerging tennis player—and the other on Sri Lankan cricket. He spoke about those heady days at Lahore in 1996 and the present state of cricket at home.


1996, a memory to cherish

It was a great team-effort. People say that it was Sanath (Jayasuriya) and Aravinda who won the World Cup but that is rubbish as far as I am concerned. There were vital contributions. To name one, Upul Chandana came onto the field for two overs and got a run out while (Graeme) Hick and (Alec) Stewart were batting in the quarterfinal game. It was a crucial moment. We contained England and we got the score. It seemed easy but in the end, the wicket crumbled so much that the last few runs were difficult. Kumar Dharmasena made some useful contributions, Roshan (Mahanama) down the order made some useful contributions. Kalu’s (Romesh Kaluwitharana) stumping of Sachin (Tendulkar) in the semifinal again changed the whole situation. So when you look at it overall, Vaasy (Chaminda Vaas), Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) getting us those break-throughs, those were the important parts that made winning the World Cup possible.

Imperious batting, part-time bowling

My approach was about being aggressive and I did not worry about failure or criticism. I learnt from my mistakes. I was just a part-timer who could bowl but inside me there was always this belief that I could come in and get a break-through.

Cricketing ties

I was involved with selection but I resigned after the World Cup. And then I was involved a little bit in restructuring the coaching. Again, I resigned a couple of months ago. So I am in and out but I am obviously available any time to help youngsters.

State of Sri Lankan cricket

We are going through a rebuilding process but you can’t be saying that forever. Short-term process is good for a few months, one or two series but not for the future. So we need to seriously look at the team in the long-term and not keep chopping and changing. If you look at the Sri Lankan side, there were 14, 15 injuries that kept some of the main players out of the game. We need a back-up plan, a proper under-19 and ‘A’ team structure. It is not happening now and that needs to be sorted out.

ICC and the money-pie

The ICC should act like the World Bank, be transparent in what they spend and fund projects that have purpose. Funds should be given for improving cricket and it should be done in a more meaningful manner. I think ICC came and did a presentation to the cricket board but a vision was lacking. I think the board should take it up. If there are value-propositions from the cricket board, they (ICC) might support it.

Kohli’s batting

He is an accomplished player. He has a little bit of weakness outside the off-stump but he has worked on it. Obviously when a lot of people start bowling to your weakness, you automatically tend to develop those areas. Sourav (Ganguly) was so strong on the off-side and they started bowling straighter and then he became so much stronger through the on-side towards the end of his career.