Sri Lanka have a reputation of introducing unorthodox spinners and the latest sensation is an 18-year-old leg-spinner. Kevin Koththigoda is currently in Malaysia with the Sri Lanka Under-19 team taking part in the Youth Asia Cup. He featured in the team’s 61-run win over Afghanistan Under-19 earlier this week and was the talking point among rival teams.
Koththigoda has an action similar to former South African Test cricketer, Paul Adams. The former South African international was a left-arm chinaman bowler and the young Sri Lankan is the right-handed version of Adams. He took one wicket in Sri Lanka’s win over Afghanistan.
Koththigoda hails from Unawatuna, five kilometers away from the iconic Galle International Cricket Stadium.
Former Sri Lanka ‘A’ opener Dhammika Sudarshana nurtured him at Richmond College, Galle’s leading school that has produced several Test cricketers. Koththigoda represented Richmond at all age group levels from Under-13 onwards.
“He has a very unusual action. It’s like that of Paul Adams. The action wasn’t coached or anything, it came naturally to him. Initially, he was struggling with the length as he couldn’t see the pitch, but he has improved tremendously,” Sudarshana told Cricbuzz.
Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, who went onto represent Sri Lanka in ODI cricket in June, also represented Richmond College. Playing two leg-spinners in the same side proved to be futile and with opportunities few and rare, Koththigoda opted to move to the rival Mahinda College last season where he has flourished, going onto represent Sri Lanka Under-19.
“He came with his parents and asked me whether he could change schools. It was a fair request and we didn’t have any objections,” Sudarshana explained.
“Since his action is unique, the batsmen get confused. He is an excellent fielder and a decent batsman. He has got a very bright future ahead of him,” Sudarshana added.
“He has an incredible action, but lands the ball in the right areas. (He is a) lovely kid and has a good future,” said Sarath Asoka, an umpire from down south who has officiated in games the young Koththigoda has played in.
In 1995, with the five match Test series against England levelled, Hansie Cronje decided to unleash the 18-year-old Paul Adams in Port Elizabeth. With his ‘frog in a blender’ action, Adams bamboozled the Englishmen claiming eight wickets in the last two Tests to help South Africa to a thrilling series win.
Sri Lanka will hope Koththigoda goes on to represent his country and inspire the team to such wins in the near future.