Chamara Silva first arrived on the scene as a slightly-built 19-year-old in 1999, a beneficiary of the youth policy adopted by Sidath Wettimuny, the chairman of the selectors at the time. He began with a promising 54 on his ODI debut against Australia. His mannerisms while batting - particularly bow-legged stance and the flamboyant cover drives - immediately attracted comparisons with the great Aravinda de Silva. But despite being prodigiously talented, he failed to nail down a regular place during tours to Sharjah (1999), Zimbabwe (1999), Pakistan (2000) and England (2002). After the England tour he dropped out of the selectors' radar and returned to domestic cricket where he captained Panadura Cricket Club. Over the next four years he was a prolific run-scorer, especially after a move to Sebastianites for the 2004-05 season. Eventually he caught the eye of Tom Moody, who could not understand why he was not in the national squad. A quick promotion back into the Sri Lanka A team followed and after a successful tour to India he won a long overdue international recall. Still just 27, he was a surprise selection for the New Zealand tour and was handed his maiden cap in the first Test at Christchurch. It was an inauspicious start as he bagged a pair and Sri Lanka lost by five wickets. Sri Lanka's team management, however, kept faith for the second Test in Wellington and he rewarded them handsomely, scoring 61 in the first innings and a magnificent unbeaten 152 in the second. His maiden one-day century followed in India, just three weeks before the World Cup.
Charlie Austin February 2007