Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Kulasekara retires from international cricket

Nuwan Kulasekara ended his career as Sri Lanka's third-highest ODI wicket-taker among seamers
Sri Lanka news July 24, 2019

Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has retired from international cricket with immediate effect. He remains open to playing global domestic T20 tournaments.

Known for his ability to swing the new ball both ways, the 37-year old exits as Sri Lanka's third-highest ODI wicket-taker among seamers, behind Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga, with 199 wickets in 184 matches. Kulasekara is also the joint second-highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in T20Is, with 66 wickets in 58 matches, behind Malinga on the list.

ALSO READ - The Nuwan Kulasekara profile by Andrew Fidel Fernando

Kulasekara last represented Sri Lanka in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Hambantota in July 2017 and hasn't played a competitive game since March 2018.

Kulasekara revealed that he had been due to announce his decision immediately after the World Cup but had held off following a special request by Lasith Malinga to play alongside him in one final ODI.

"I was going to announce my retirement straight after the World Cup but Lasith Malinga made a special request during the world cup to play alongside me in his final game. As such, I wanted to see if there was any way to make that happen. That's why my retirement announcement was delayed," he explained.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Lasith for remembering me. It shows great strength for one cricketer to speak about another, and it's not the first time Lasith has done something like this."

With Malinga set to retire following the first ODI against Bangladesh, Kulasekara revealed that he had followed Malinga in making an official request to SLC to be included in that game. However, with SLC not having responded to either request, Kulasekara said he knew his time was up.

"It was because of Lasith's request that I also made a request to SLC, to see if there was a possibility of being selected in a farewell match. But I don't think it fit in with SLC's plans as I haven't heard back from them.

"They did however say that the third ODI will be dedicated to me, even though that's not what I had requested. What I had asked was whether it was possible to do what Malinga had suggested, and play [with him] in his final game, together. But a 22-man squad had already been selected, and it's from that squad that the team for the first ODI is going to be selected. So, with the match just a couple of days away, I felt that there was no chance of that happening, which is why I'm announcing my retirement now."

In ODIs, Kulasekara was ranked as the No.1 bowler in March 2009 and nearly four years later, he took career-best ODI figures of 5 for 22 against Australia in Brisbane. Kulasekara, though, wasn't as effective in Tests and ended with 48 wickets in 21 games, the last of which came in 2014 at Lord's, where Sri Lanka clung on for a thrilling draw.

For a player constantly in the background, a rare moment in the spotlight saw him look back on these moments fondly.

"I had the privilege of representing Sri Lanka in every major ICC event between 2007-2014, where the team played in two 50-over World Cup finals, three T20 World Cup finals, including our victorious one in 2014 against India. I was honoured to be the vice-captain of this World Cup-winning team.

"There are several instances that come to mind [when I think of my favourite memories on the field]. Bowling the penultimate over of the 2014 World T20 final definitely stands out. Before that, in the first match we played in that tournament against South Africa; I won't forget bowling the 19th over in that game either. My five wickets against Australia in Brisbane also stands out.

"There was also the Test against England at Lord's in 2006, where [Chaminda] Vaas and I managed to put together a good partnership [of 61 runs in the first innings and then a 105-run stand in the second] to help draw the game [in which Kulasekara also scored 64, his only Test fifty].

"I represented my team and nation with the highest amount of pride and admiration; nothing was more important to me than seeing Sri Lanka at the top of world cricket. I have no regrets, every day that I played cricket I was happy, and I leave the sport happily."

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