Santhush Gunathilake: Every game feels different
By Shania Perera
An up and coming Sri Lankan cricketer who represented Sri Lanka in the Under 19 team in 2018, Santhush Gunathilake took up the game after being inspired by his father. While sitting down with The Sunday Morning Happinez, Santhush said he looks forward to playing cricket at a higher level in the future, among other things. Read on to see what else he had to say.
How did your interest in cricket start?
My father played school and club cricket. My enthusiasm for the game began due to my father’s interest in it. I used to play cricket down the street with my friends, and when I was nine years old, I started playing leather ball cricket. I started playing for my school team when I was 11.
Are you planning on pursuing cricket as a profession?
Basically, cricket is my life. I represented Sri Lanka by playing in the national Under 19 team in 2018 and it boosted my confidence. I joined Sinhalese Sports Club. I am planning to better my skills and play cricket at a higher level.
Who would you say is your biggest cheerleader and how does that person motivate you?
My biggest cheerleader is my father. His commitment to see me play is something I’ll always be grateful for. He skips his work to come see me play. He always supports me in everything.
How did you balance studies and cricket?
I was a very studious child, but unfortunately, I found it difficult to balance cricket and studies. I had cricket practices six days a week; naturally, I was physically worn out. I commenced a degree in business management. Thanks to my mother’s motivation and support, I managed to achieve good positions in cricket and my studies.
Who is your role model and why?
I look up to a few cricketers. For example, Steve Smith’s attitude towards the game and Virat Kholi’s aggression are very admirable. Both are world-class batsmen. Kumar Sangakkara is also one of my role models because I look up to the way he builds up his inning and plays a long game. I don’t have just one role model. I take all these positive characteristics and learn from them.
Tell me about a time things didn’t go your way and what you did to overcome it.
I faced many situations where things didn’t quite go according to the way I wanted. After I came back to school, having played for the national team, I hadn’t made a single score above 50. I was dropped out, criticised, and ridiculed, but I was advised by my personal cricket coach to not back down, and I didn’t. I’m proud to say that I carried my team through during the big match. My score reached 1,500, and last season, I broke many records.
What do you feel every time you’re on the field?
Well, I guess the pressure of walking on to the field is normal for everyone. There’s always a pit in my stomach at the beginning of every game. Every game is different, so I feel different at every game too.
What would you say to someone who admires you and has the same goals as you?
Whenever you do something, do it with love and passion. There are many players who don’t get the same opportunity as you do. Don’t get ahead of yourself. And be patient, your time will come. Don’t let other people’s labels define who you are.
Losses are experiences. How did you deal with these experiences?
Not scoring above 50 runs over a period of six months is one of my biggest losses yet. I didn’t give up on my passion and I learned from the experience. When you’re doing well in life, everyone wants to be your friend. When you’re dealing with hard times, only a handful of those people are there for you. I am eternally grateful for that handful. Always focus on the goal at hand, no matter what.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
Well, only time will tell where I’ll be. Hopefully, I’ll be continuing cricket; I doubt I’ll stop.
Photo by Krishan Kariyawasam