Due to the present Global pandemic situation this is conducted under a Bio Bubble Environment. Former National cricketer Gunawardena is not new to the young cricketers. The 44 year old dashing left hand opener played six test matches and 61 ODI’s during the period 1998 to 2006 but he has done a fine job as a qualified coach to build up so many cricketers.
This time he has been contracted until December 31, 2022. Gunawardena is an ICC Level-3 qualified coach and has previously served as Head Coach of the national ‘A’ and ‘Emerging’ sides. He was also the batting coach of the national team during several international assignments. He is a dedicated coach always likes to work with youngsters. During this new assignment as an under 19 coach these players are getting ready to focus on upcoming inbound tours, under 19 Asia Cup and the Under 19 World Cup which is the main target .
The Residential training camp which started on September 9 is very important as youngsters go through skills training, fitness, match scenarios and the camp will conclude by playing three 50 over games.
Sri Lankan Under 19 team has not won the under 19 World Cup in history. In 2000 Sri Lanka finished as runners up under the leadership of Malintha Gajanayake and they lost to India captained by Mohammed Kaif at the SSC grounds. However Australia has already won the championship three times in 1988, 2002 and 2010 , India won four times 2000, 2008, 2012, 2018 Pakistan won two times 2004, 2006, One each from England in 1998, South Africa in 2014, West Indies in 2016 and Bangladesh in 2020 under the coaching of former Sri Lankan coach Naveed Nawaz . India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s highest achievement is reaching the final. Afghanistan also have a strong side and it will be a big challenge for all 16 countries at this 14th edition of the under 19 world cup.
Last time in 2020 Sri Lanka finally entered plate finals and lost to England and finished 10th place out of 16 countries with disappointing performances and this time once again 16 countries will meet in this World Cup in 2022 in West Indies. Sri Lanka is looking to take part to do their best with more determination.
“The next Under-19 World Cup is in January next year, so I’ve only got about 100 days to prepare the boys for that, A lot of these boys haven’t played for the last 18 months [because of the pandemic], so there’s work to do.” said coach Gunawardena. He always said not only to prepare for World Cup at least 3-4 players have to play for the National side and it is the responsibility of the coaches. He has a good vision to prepare these youngsters. After he left Ananda College, Gunawardena played for SSC as well as National team. He was a captain from the junior level at his school later led the side at SSC.
The Junior National selectors chose this 26 member squad out of 75 players, chosen via an Island wide Talent Profiling Programme conducted by Sri Lankan Cricket. Before the selection of this 26 players, the 75 players underwent a Residential Training Programme at Pallekele.
Among this 26 players squad five cricketers Ravin de Silva (Nalanda). Matheesha Pathirana(Trinity), Dunith Wellalage (St Joesph’s), Chamidu Wickramasinghe (St Anthony’s Katugastota) and Yasiru Rodrigo(S. Thomas Mt Lavinia) played for the National under 19 side last year.
Avishka Gunawardena has a big task to prepare this players to focus on under 19 World Cup. Former Sri Lanka Captain Mahela Jayawardena will serve as a consultant coach and this is good for these youngsters . They have good supporting staff which include Upul Chandana (fielding coach), Chamila Gamage (fast bowling coach) Sachith Pathirana (spin bowling coach) and Dhammika Sudharshana (batting coach).
The 26 member National under 19 pool
Three players from St Joseph’s Colombo (Dunith Wellalage, Shevon Daniel , Sadeesh Jayawardena , Three players from Ratgama Devapathiraja (Pawan Sandesh, Jeewaka Shashin, Sasanka Nirmal, Three players from Trinity (Vibhavith Ehelepola, Matheesha Pathirana and Pawan Pathiraja ,
Three players from St Peters Bambalapitiya (Danal Hemananada , Lahiru Dawatage, Vanuja Sahan, Three players from St Anthony’s Katugastota (Chamidu Wickramasinghe, Trewin Matthews, Lahiru Abeysinghe, Two players from Nalanda Colombo (Ravin de Silva , Vinuja Ranpul), Two players from S. Thomas Mt Lavinia (Yasiru Rodrigo, Rayan Fernando, Sadeesh Rajapaksa from Royal Colombo, Abhishek Liyanarachchi from D. S Senanayake Colombo Thrindu Jayasekara from St Thomas Matara, Maneesha Weerasinghr from Maliyadeva Kurunegala, Malsha Tahrupathi from Madampa MMV, Bhawantha Jayasinghe from Thurstan and Maleesha Silva from St Sysvesters Kandy
ICC Under 19 world cup history
1988 in Australia – Champion – Australia , Runners up – Pakistan
1998 in South Africa – Champion –England , Runners Up New Zealand
2000 in Sri Lanka – Champion India , Runners up Sri Lanka
2002 New Zealand – Champion Australia – Runners Up South Africa
2004 – Bangladesh – Champion Pakistan – Runners Up West Indies
2006 in Sri Lanka – Champion Pakistan – Runner Up India
2008in Malaysia – Champion India – Runners Up – South Africa
2010 in New Zealand – Champion Australia – Runners Up –Pakistan
2012 in Australia – Champion India – Runners Up Australia
2014 in UAE Champion South Africa Runners Up – Pakistan
2016 in Bangladesh– Champion West Indies-Runners up India
2018 in New Zealand Champion India Runners Up Australia
2020 in South Africa Champion Bangladesh – Runners Up India