Sidath Wettimuny – Mr. Pleasant’ Has Pleasing Strokes
The name Sidath Wettimuny conjures up visions of a tall, lithe batsman opening the innings for Sri Lanka and creating records with his stylish strokes. He will be the mainstay of his country and the Indians will find him a tough one to budge. Sidath Wettimuny is really a pleasant manner batsman is a gifted opener. He was talking to Sportstar, and Sidath Wettimuny made the following remarks:
Question: You missed the double century against England at Lord’s by just 10 runs. How do you feel about it?
Answer. It is sad that I did not get those ten runs but I keep telling people that I was more pleased about the runs I got than about the runs that I did not get. The most pleasing aspect of the Test was that we performed so well as the underdogs. We had been written off before the Test. People were saying we would lose less than three days. Mainly because we did not have a good run in the Counties such an impression might have been created. There were so many injury problems that we could never field a side we wanted to. And things were just not coming right. On that day things came right for us and for me.
Q: Would you enjoy playing the County circuit?
A: Personally, I would not like to play in the County championship even if I am invited. During the last five years we have played in England three years we have done the County circuit as the Sri Lankan Xl. Having gone through that I do not fancy myself playing seven days a week for five months. It will take a lot out of you and I do not think we Sri Lankans would enjoy that sort of cricket. Especially because we are used to playing league cricket.
Q: As an opening batsman which pacemen impressed you most?
A: Well, Imran Khan is one of the finest bowlers I have ever faced. As an opening batsman, I have had to play many leading new ball bowlers of the world and among them, Imran was something extraordinary. He is so difficult to get away even in the limited over’s games. And then of course there is Richard Hadlee who is an equally great bowler. I probably faced him after his prime but I can well imagine what he would have been ten years ago. I don’t think I would have wanted to face him at all. I am sure he would have been the greatest of them all. The West Indians are as a class quick. There is not a bowler you would like to say you can face happily. Playing Garner would probably be the most awkward proposition.
Q: Who is the quickest among the pace bowlers?
A: It is a difficult question to answer. The measurements and even the feeling within you when you play different pace bowlers are different Maybe, the bowler who is consistently quick is Malcolm Marshall. But when I think back on it and wonder who can be the quickest, I realize any one bowler has the capacity, on his day, to be quicker than the rest. It is all relative to the spell which you are facing. I have faced so many bowlers in different conditions and they have all bowled very quickly some time or other. When I faced Rodney Hogg I believed he was the quickest. Of course, Imran Khan bowled a really quick spell in Lahore and I think he got -.something like 14 wickets in the Test. Hogg bowled four very, very quick ‘ rovers in the one-day international in Sydney. Rarely do you see pacemen stretch out in the one-dayers? Rodney Hogg is an exception. He can go flat out and scare you in a one-day match.
Q: Your opinion on the best spinners?
A: I have not played the Indian spinners and so I could not really include them when I talk about the best spinners I have faced. Abdul Qadir indeed yes, definitely. He is one of the more dangerous spin bowlers. John Emburey impressed me a good deal when he bowled in our first Test in Colombo some years back. Qasim is a very fine spinner but you could possibly sit tight on him and not let him get through. It is different with guys like Abdul Qadir and John Emburey.
Q: It is said that you have fashioned your game on the lines of Gavaskar. Is he one of your favorites?
A: I have always thought a lot about, Sunil Gavaskar. He has been one of my idols. I do not know whether I consciously modeled myself on Sunil but I do know I have watched him in action a lot. No doubt, I would like to be as confident and cool as he is when he comes out to open innings. I think it is far more difficult for a batsman from the East to do consistently well against, say the West Indies. I have only seen Majid Khan on videotapes but even a short look convinced me he must have been a great player in his days. I remember one particular stoke—a near straight batted pull off the back foot that went racing between mid-on and mid-wicket
Q: Do you believe in going for records?
A: I do not chase records consciously. Perhaps, I have been lucky to set a few as a Sri Lankan batsman. But that is about all. Records come when you bat well and it is far more important that you bat well rather than think of records and spoil your rhythm or upset the trend of play in any situation. I played my first class match in 1976 against Pakistan and I will never forget that match for I got a pair. It was Sarfraz Nawaz who did me in both innings. It was only in 1978 that I began playing league cricket regularly in England.
I was doing my advanced levels and then I went into accountancy and then gave that up halfway through since I was going into the jewelry business along with my brothers. But cricket was always on my mind though I must say I was lucky that I did not make as disastrous a start in business as I did in cricket. Coincidentally, I got two 50s against Sarfraz Nawaz when playing for Sri Lanka against the Northants. So I thought I did get back something.
My first first-class hundred was also against Pakistan. This was at Faisalabad where that century was also my maiden one in Test cricket. Before I made the hundred I did not think it would be setting up some kind of record. It was only after I got the hundred did I hear people talking that it was the first hundred scored for Sri Lanka in an official Test. I felt great.