The misfit who became a raging bull | Sunday Observer
Thisara Perera: :

The misfit who became a raging bull

10 May, 2021
Thisara Perera formed a rare breed of Sri Lankans
Thisara Perera formed a rare breed of Sri Lankans

It was shortly before lunch on the first morning of the third and final cricket Test between Sri Lanka and England at the Rose Bowl in Southampton and in walked the strapping figure of Thisara Perera.

Wickets fell at regular intervals and Thisara Perera had no clue what to do other than sky the ball twice in the air and minutes later walk back perhaps relieved to realise the occasion did not suit him on that cold grey day in June 2011 as he played in only his second of six Tests.

Ten years down the line Thisara Perera hangs up his Sri Lanka cap and shirt, a transformed breed bidding farewell to a team and following that he created thanks to his power-hitting rage that put him alongside the few players to match the brute strength of six hitters like Chris Gayle in the limited overs arena.

Until Thisara Perera came along in post Test Sri Lanka, the country did not have a brute with the bat like him who could have smashed any bowler out of the park with sheer power unlike Sanath Jayasuriya who relied more on timing with his medium build.

He played the shots that made Sri Lankans boast of a man that commanded respect and attention and his exploits to this day separate him from the rest who slammed a monster six of 123 metres against Australia in a T20 match in Perth in 2010.

Years later he brought home another record clouting 13 sixes in a score of 140 against New Zealand in an ODI in January 2019 as Sri Lanka chased down a 319 target to end up with 298.

Thisara Perera belonged to a rare tribe of sportsmen who walked into the Sri Lanka team from almost nowhere unheralded after finishing his school cricket career at St. Joseph’s College from where he graduated after crossing over from St. Anthony’s College in downtown Wattala.

“He was a true servant of Sri Lanka cricket and many times did he bail out the team with match-winning performances,” said Carlton Bernadus a veteran coach of St. Joseph’s and Colts Cricket Club where Thisara Perera commenced his maiden professional stint.

He had the honour of playing with a school team that had Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne and Roshen Silva who also booked slots in the Sri Lanka side.

But Thisara Perera may have done more had his keepers managed him like the professional he was as he proved it in his career-ending period when he led the Jaffna Stallions to lay their hands on the Lanka Premier League (LPL) last December that had several international players and three months later blasted six sixes in another home match playing for Army Sports Club against the Bloomfield Cricket Club.

“I think Thisara had achieved what he would have wanted like even captaining the Sri Lanka team,” said Bernandus. “But then been a bulky guy he could have had his ups and downs and I think he made the right call to move on and make way for the youngsters.”

Perhaps Thisara Perera will be another of those players whose statistics and scores on paper don’t reflect the true character of a batting artiste who was truly a crowd favourite, a gladiator type of entertainer on show.

His modesty was such that very rarely did he get into the bad books of administrators and compared to some of his team mates that he leaves behind, Thisara Perera was a cut above the rest in public conduct that his fans and followers of cricket will cherish.

That is just one part of the legacy that Thisara Perera will leave behind.