Kevin Koththigoda attracting eyeballs

Ever since the Sri Lanka U-19 team took the field in the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur, the cricketing fraternity has been busy analysing Koththigoda’s ‘froggy’ bowling action.

"For an unorthodox spinner, life is always a challenge. But it has been good so far," says Kevin Koththigoda.   -  Photo courtesy: Asian Cricket Council

The 18-year-old hasn’t seen Paul Adams play. In fact, until recently he had no idea how the former South African unorthodox spinner bowled during his heyday. But throughout last week, all young Sri Lankan spinner Kevin Koththigoda has heard are comparisons with Adams.

Ever since the Sri Lanka U-19 team took the field in the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur, the cricketing fraternity has been busy analysing Koththigoda’s ‘froggy’ bowling action. While most of the experts find his unorthodox action strikingly similar to that of Adams, many in the Sri Lankan cricketing circles have already touted him as the next big thing.

And as Koththigoda starts talking to Sportstar from his Galle residence on Thursday afternoon, he comes up with a clarification. “I actually have never seen Adams bowl. For me, the action comes naturally. I did not do anything extra, nor did I follow anyone. It just happened,” the youngster says.

 

With the comparisons growing louder, a few days ago, Koththigoda browsed the Internet to find out how Paul Adams would bowl during his playing days. And, he was quite surprised to see the former cricketer’s action. “I saw his videos lately just because everyone says that I am similar to him,” he says, quickly adding that his action is slightly different from that of Adams. “Unlike him, I bowl from right arm. So, there is a big difference,” he says.

Earlier this year, he finished his studies from the Mahinda College and now, after making it to the U-19 side, Koththigoda hopes to break into the big league soon. “My only objective is to keep the ball in correct lines and do the variations at the right time.”

This is something he has learnt from Sri Lanka’s fast bowling coach, Chaminda Vaas. “This was his advice. I am trying to follow his instructions. I want to play the U-19 World Cup and get into the senior Sri Lanka team as soon as possible,” the youngster says.

His family is into hotel business and cricket is not something that came naturally. But Koththigoda got inspiration from his father, who would travel widely to watch cricket. “Our father is a huge cricket fan. That influenced Kevin and my younger brother Yuri to take up cricket. Kevin started playing at the age of four, and his bowling style has been this way since,” Koththigoda’s elder brother Chanu points out.

While the family supports him, Koththigoda draws inspiration from Shane Warne. Even though his bowling style is different from the Aussie legend, the youngster believes challenges would make him a better bowler. “For an unorthodox spinner, life is always a challenge. But it has been good so far. I try to take one day at a time and be the best I could be on that day,” he says.

Though he did not have a great outing in the U-19 Asia Cup, the world has been busy talking about him. That has left him surprised. “It is a new thing for me. Let’s see how life goes.”

Before shifting to the Mahinda College, Koththigoda was a student at Richmond College, where his first coach Danushka Denagama trained him at the U-13 and U-15 level. And in those formative years, Koththigoda was taught an important lesson — not to get carried away by success. “At the U-17 level, my coach Dammika Sudarshana taught me to stick to my natural game and that’s something I have always focused on,” he says.

The Asia Cup has given him all the attention and now as the dust settles, the young Sri Lankan hopes to let the red cherry do the talking.

After all, well begun is half done!

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