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Ramesh Wins the Heart of Waikato Valley and Then Marks His Ground in the Far End of Aotearoa | CJ Ekanayake

Skills Plus Hard Work – The Road to Success. 

Today we have another talented Sri Lankan, Ramesh Subasinghe, a full-time coach in New Zealand. After moving to New Zealand in 2015, he worked as the head of the Hawke Cup District, Horowhenua-Kapiti Cricket Association. Then, he played and coached for multiple trophies winning at Paraparaumu Cricket Club in 2016-18. Also, he worked at Northern Districts Cricket Association as a development officer and a performance coach, where he won the Cricket Development Officer of the Year Award’ in 2021. Presently, he has been appointed to the performance coaching staff at Otago Cricket Association.

Welcome and thank Ramesh for joining us to spend a few minutes from your busy life. Shall we start with days of your childhood and early life in Sri Lanka? 

Yeah, thank you. I was born in Colombo and lived in Negombo, where my parents still live. I studied at Maris Stella College, Negombo, till the year five, and then from there to the Advanced Level, I studied at St Peter’s College, Colombo. 

Then, when did you start to play Cricket?

I have been playing Cricket since the day I remember. But my first hardball game started at St Peter’s. After that, I played in all the age groups until the first eleven.

In schools, we learn skills and train ourselves for the future. So how did you get into Cricket as a career? 

Well, after school, I played for NCC (nondescripts-cricket-club) in Sri Lanka. So, that was where I started playing the top domestic level Cricket. During the off-seasons in Sri Lanka, I used to go to England and play professionally for six months every summer. In this way, practically, I played for 365 days a year. That’s how it started. After the trip to England in 2012, I did not go back to Sri Lanka. Instead, I planned to come to New Zealand. In 2015, my wife and I permanently moved in.  

Tell us about your family as well.

Right, my wife “Tharenie” and I have a 4-year-old daughter “Tia” and my parents living back home and then I have a brother who is a musician in Sri Lanka.

Moving to NZ is a ‘Right Choice’, most say. A land of opportunities. If I ask, what made you come to New Zealand?
It was when we lived in the UK, I had a season in the summer of 2013/14. As I did not return to Sri Lanka after that season, one of my agents organised a club to play for the district association in Taranaki. Then I obviously fell in love with the place and Taranaki cricket and the club that I played for gave me a 2-year contract to come to NZ.

You were selected as the ‘Cricket Development Officer of the Year’ at the New Zealand annual Cricket awards in 2021. This was a prestigious award and a recognition of your skills and hard work, having come all the way from Sri Lanka.
How did you achieve it? and what did you feel about getting this award? 

When I joined the Northern district, I was asked to do a certain project in the area in the Waikato valley. So, I managed to get cricket started in the community, schools, and clubs. So, that is basically a recognition of a 3-year project that we have done.

I am very pleased personally but more importantly very pleased for the community that I work with. Because I think the community deserves every bit of the award as well that I am lucky enough to meet fantastic people in the community. 

Why did you choose to be a coach? 

Kind of like it started back in St Peter’s. I always enjoyed helping the young players coming through. That was where that passion for coaching came. When I was in the UK, I did both player and coach roles within that group. Then around 2013 probably, I concentrated a lot on coaching. I took a lot of aid coach roles around the 2012/13 season. The journey started like that. Then, I moved to New Zealand as a full-time Cricket coach. 

It is a long time within a short span of your life in the field. Nothing will succeed without challenges.  What obstacles did you run into in getting to where you are today?

You are correct. Life is full of challenges. You come across them whatever you do. In my case, I moved to two countries during this short period. One of the significant issues was the adaptation. We were born and bred in Sri Lanka. The environment of the UK and New Zealand was different. The social background and culture in these countries are the things we had to learn and understand initially. New Zealand society is more multicultural. People are friendly. Receptive. Within a couple of years, I managed to get used to the “Kiwi Way,” called here. While adapting to the new set-up, we still like to be Sri Lankan. It is our unique identity.

We heard that you are moving to Dunedin. Why did you decide to give up the present job and move to another location? 

I worked for the Northern Districts and the Northern Knights in the game development stream. I was the head coach for Northern Districts U19’s and the assistant coach to Northern Knights A team. But my passion was coaching. The Otago offer is, therefore, an excellent opportunity with a 100% coaching role. I’ll be head of their emerging talent in Otago U19’s and an assistant coach to Otago Volts and Spark, the two high performing teams. My ambition is to do coaching at the highest professional level. Also, this is an opportunity for further development in my career. There could be challenges. But you can’t achieve anything without facing them. 

Most of the highfliers have different forms of other hobbies. What about you? Anything other than Cricket?

Of course. I am a big Chelsea fan. I was really thrilled seeing us winning the champions league. I used to hold a season ticket when we were living in the UK and Stamford Bridge. So, yeah, lifelong Chelsea fan. I love travelling and am a student of history as well.

You are a Cricket man from your school days with a long and successful track record. What advice would you give to young and aspiring Cricketers?

It is all that they want to be. For example, some people play Cricket as a social activity. For some, it is fun. More serious people will pursue it as a career. Playing for a club is different from playing to be a classy professional. And you must never forget that Cricket is a sport that needs you to work hard to be a professional. So, my advice is to play, enjoy and work hard. 

As a person entirely devoted to the sport, you must be keeping an eye on the development of Sri Lankan Cricket also. So finally, what can you say about the present state in it?

For the last four to five years, Sri Lankan Cricket is going through a period of transition. it is not at its finest at the moment. However, the Sri Lankan Cricket Committee is made up of legends. They can make good decisions and take the country’s most popular sport in the correct direction. It is natural some good teams undergo certain difficult periods for reasons beyond their control. They are all temporary, and we hope for the best.

It is hard for us living away to watch them lose. Then as a country, we lose our identity in the field.  Players get disheartened. But they are clever and hardworking. So with great respect to them, we hope that everything will be back to normal soon.  

Now you possess some exposure to Cricket in New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Can you compare these two? What are the main differences between SL and NZ Cricket?

Fewer numbers are playing Cricket in New Zealand. In professional games, there are only a little more than 100 professional Cricketers in the country. The low number means more attention to the players. 

In terms of talent, both countries have very talented players. But I guess Sri Lankan players are naturally gifted up to maybe the ages of 16-17 compared to a New Zealand young cricketer, then it comes to that eighteen plus or early twenties that is where a place like New Zealand, that player goes to a really high level. In between levels from under 19 to the first-class levels, there is a lot of emphasis given to developing the player individually. That is something that Sri Lanka can do. But with the lack of facilities and higher number of professional players in Sri Lanka that could be a challenge compared to NZ. 

Thank you again, Ramesh, for joining us. We, the Sri LankaNZ, wish you all the best for the new job and good luck.

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