Dushan Hemantha, born on the 24th of May 1994, has emerged as a promising talent in Sri Lankan cricket. This all-rounder, known for his right-handed batting skills and right-arm legbreak bowling, has been making waves both in domestic and international cricket circles. Let’s delve into the journey of this young cricket sensation, tracing his path from a cricket-loving upbringing to his remarkable feats on the cricket field.
Early Life and Cricketing Roots
Dushan Hemantha’s tryst with cricket can be traced back to his childhood, where he received his first lessons in the sport from none other than his father, Sujith Hemantha, a cricket coach himself. It was apparent from a young age that young Dushan possessed an innate passion and enthusiasm for the game. At just seven years old, his father recognized his potential. While he initially displayed signs of being an offspinner, it was his father’s wisdom that led him to embrace leg-spin. This decision aimed to equip him with greater guile and accuracy, essential attributes for a bowler.
However, Hemantha’s journey took an unexpected turn when he was approached by Sajith Jayalal, the national athletic coach at the time, with an offer to join the junior national athletic squad. Initially hesitant, Hemantha eventually accepted the offer after careful consideration. In the same year, he participated in the South Asian Junior Athletics Championships and secured a bronze medal in the men’s 1500m race category—an early sign of his athletic prowess. Despite his success in athletics, Hemantha remained committed to his cricketing ambitions, continuing to participate in zonal events and sports meets.
Schooling and Early Success
Completing his secondary education at St. Peter’s College, Hemantha’s cricketing journey took a significant step forward. He assumed the role of captain for his school’s under-19 cricket team during the 2012–13 season. His leadership skills and cricketing prowess were soon acknowledged when he received the best captain’s award at the All-Island Schools Cricket Awards. Under the guidance of his school coaches L. H. Sunil and Keerthi Gunaratne, he honed his skills and rose to prominence.
Hemantha’s contributions to St. Peter’s College were particularly notable in the annual “Battle of the Saints” big match encounter. In 2010, he made his maiden appearance in this prestigious contest, and his performance played a pivotal role in securing victory for St. Peter’s College, ending a 32-year-long drought. His leadership qualities shone as he was appointed vice-captain in the 2012 edition of the same encounter, helping his school triumph over rivals St. Joseph’s College.
The 2012/13 school cricket season witnessed Hemantha’s all-round excellence, with 60 wickets and 840 runs to his name. This remarkable performance earned him recognition as the Runner-up in the 2013 Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year—a testament to his burgeoning talent.
Dushan Hemantha’s journey into domestic cricket began with his first-class debut for Colts Cricket Club in the 2013–14 Premier Trophy on 21st February 2014. His Twenty20 debut followed shortly after, playing for Colts Cricket Club against Hong Kong on 25th February 2014. Hemantha made his List A debut for Saracens Sports Club on 13th December 2014, showcasing his adaptability across different formats of the game.
One of the defining moments in his domestic career came on 2nd February 2017 when he claimed his maiden first-class five-wicket haul, amassing impressive figures of 7 for 62 against Lankan Cricket Club. Later, on 29th December 2017, he etched his name in the annals of cricket history by notching up his maiden century in first-class cricket, scoring an impressive 193 runs against Panadura Sports Club.
Hemantha continued to make strides in List A cricket, scoring his maiden half-century on 4th March 2019 against Moors Sports Club in the 2018–19 Premier Limited Overs Tournament. In the 2020–21 Major Clubs Limited Over Tournament, he represented Burgher Recreation Club and marked his presence with a maiden century in List A cricket against Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club on 3rd April 2021.
The year 2021 was especially significant for Hemantha, as he achieved his maiden five-wicket haul in List A cricket on 21st November, playing against Kandy Customs Sports Club in the 2021–22 Major Clubs Limited Over Tournament. His consistently stellar performances did not go unnoticed.
Cricketing Achievements and International Call-Up
In July 2022, Dushan Hemantha’s talent earned him a coveted spot in the Dambulla Giants squad for the third edition of the Lanka Premier League—an acknowledgment of his growing reputation in Sri Lankan cricket.
His journey to international recognition took a significant leap in early 2023 when he was named in Sri Lanka A’s squad for their first-class and List A series against England Lions. On the 18th of February 2023, he displayed his prowess by securing a five-wicket haul, playing a pivotal role in his team’s victory against the England Lions in the second unofficial ODI. Hemantha continued to shine in the List A series, amassing eleven wickets with an impressive average of 11.45. His remarkable bowling performances earned him the title of Player of the Series.
In April 2023, Hemantha received his maiden call-up to the Sri Lanka cricket team for their Test series against Ireland, following his impressive displays against the England Lions. While he was initially expected to make his Test debut during the series against Ireland, the Sri Lankan team management opted to maintain the winning combination after the first Test.
May 2023 marked another milestone in Hemantha’s career, as he was included in Sri Lanka’s One Day International (ODI) squad for their series against Afghanistan. He made his ODI debut on the 2nd of June 2023, a testament to his rapid rise in the ranks of Sri Lankan cricket.
As Dushan Hemantha continues to impress with his all-round skills, both domestic and international cricket fans eagerly anticipate his future contributions to Sri Lanka’s cricketing legacy. His journey from a cricket-loving child to a rising star is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and innate talent—a story that inspires aspiring cricketers and fans alike.