Thilan Thusara Samaraweera Profile
Being a spin bowler in the Muttiah Muralidaran era was tantamount to foolhardiness, as the spin great was bound to overshadow your performances. Thilan Samaraweera learnt his lessons quickly and from being an off-spinner who could bat a bit, he transformed himself into a genuine front-line batsman.
It wasn’t easy though. Samaraweera debuted for Colts Cricket Club in 1995 and played as their front-line spinner. He got his due when he was called up to Sri Lanka’s ODI team in 1998. He managed to play only six matches between 1998 and 1999 and was consequently dropped. The presence of Kumar Dharmasena and the wily Murali meant that Samaraweera would find it very hard to break into the Sri Lankan team as a spinner. So he went back to domestic cricket and worked on his batting. The move paid dividends as he made his debut against India at Colombo. Coming in at number eight, Samaraweera combined with Hashan Tillakaratne to put up a mammoth score of 610, and completed his maiden ton in the process.
Samaraweera’s performances were thereafter consistent and he cemented himself in Sri Lanka’s Test squad. However the selectors ignored him in ODIs and he was labeled as a Test specialist. He performed exceedingly well in Tests and it was not until mid-2006, that cracks started appearing in his batting. His ODI career hasn’t rhymed the same way though. After being ignored in the past decade, Kumar Sangakkara gave the veteran a vote of confidence and since 2009, Samaraweera started featuring in ODIs. However coming lower down the order, he has had limited opportunities and his inability to hit big shots may be his undoing in the shorter format of the game.
Samaraweera may not be as pretty to watch as a Mahela Jayawardena or a Kumar Sangakkara but his ability to wear down bowlers and accumulate runs is an ideal foil to a batting line-up replete with stroke makers. He is also a very good player of spin bowling and is a decent fielder.
In 2013, Samaweera retired from international cricket after being left out of the Test squad for Sri Lanka’s home series against Bangladesh.