Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Boxing Day is usually associated with holidays, family and happiness. But, for Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal, December 26 has dark connotations as it was the day that he “lost everything” when a tsunami ravaged through his town in 2004.
Chandimal, who was 15 at the time, recalls how he was watching the Boxing Day ODI between Sri Lanka and New Zealand when his mother came running in to raise the alarm.
Chandimal also remembers taking a quick glance at the powerful wave that headed towards his family’s house in Ambalangoda before fleeing in sheer terror.
While Chandimal was thankful that none of his family members were among the 38,000 Sri Lankans killed, he still cannot erase the memories of losing everything he and his family owned.
“We lost everything, including my cricket bag,” Chandimal said. “I can still remember what happened like it was yesterday, the way our home was caught up and lost. Our neighbours and our relatives, everyone was affected. I feel very sad even now, when I think about it.”
While no on-field disappointment can ever match the fact that Chandimal survived one of the worst natural disasters in history, it is needless to say that 2014 has not been one of the best years for the 25-year-old.
“It’s been a struggle in the past few months,” he said. “I’m someone who’s always looking for runs, and maybe that’s why I play the hook when I see a short ball. When you are performing badly, whether you’re playing cricket, running a business, or studying, you’re always going to be under pressure. Maybe that got to me mentally as well.
“There were technical issues as well, and I worked very hard on those. Maybe I won’t hook early in the innings any more, but after I’ve watched for a bit, I will go to the hook shot I’ve always played well in the past.
“Mentally, I had to get myself to a good place as well. For that, I watched a lot of videos of myself batting well in the past – my hundred at Lord’s, my batting in the CB series in 2012, and in my debut Test against South Africa. I was looking at what my attitude was, and what I was thinking about. I absorbed all of that, and it’s allowed me to start doing well again.”
However, it seems that Chandimal’s fortunes have turned for the better as he scored 35 and 55 in the last two ODIs against England.
“The England tour [in May] was a big challenge,” he said. “I was in a good mental space for those matches, and really ready to perform for the team. That’s the attitude with which I went into those matches, and I’ve only become stronger since. I think I’ve done better in overseas matches than I have in the subcontinent, so that makes me feel confident with the season coming up.”