“Little Kalu”, Tony Greig’s voice still reverberates and there is always YouTube. Before the Kumar Sangakkara-era, there was a fearless little man, who used his guile and agility to successfully keep against the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan and co. He was a pocket dynamite with the bat and along with Sanath Jayasuriya, he redefined opening in ODIs in the mind-1990s. “My batting style was natural. Maybe, it was like that because I have always been a fan of nature and wildlife. During my cricket tours also, I used to visit national parks whenever possible,” said Romesh Romesh Kaluwitharana in an interview with The Indian Express. The wicketkeeper-batsman owns Hideaway, a luxury jungle retreat at Udawalawe. Kalu has always loved the nature and that has a lot to do with his venture. ALSO READ: Arjuna Ranatunga: Angelo Mathews best Sri Lankan captain after Ranjan Madugalle
The 48-year-old had a lucky escape when he and his family were attacked by elephants. “It was a close shave,” Kalu recalled when he and his family (wife and 10-year-old son) was attacked by a herd of 6 elephants. “The escape route was narrow and I had very little chance to survive by pressing the accelerator. The elephants would have reacted. We had to wait until they calmed down. The whole thing was scary, a lot more frightful than facing deadly fast bowlers on a green-top.”
That was not all. He had faced it all before too. Recalling the same, he added, “I had once been chased by an elephant earlier also. It was just one elephant. Second time, I made the mistake of going close to them during their mating season.”
Kalu does his bit of preserving forests in Sri Lanka and protect its wildlife. At the other end, his love affair with cricket continues. He was the coach of Sri Lanka A side that saw the rise of Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka and some other current Sri Lankan national team players. He is also the national selector of the Sri Lankan side.
He happens to be a Level 3 coach, however he is yet to experience the glitz of the tournaments such as IPL. But Kalu hasn’t given up hopes yet. “Actually yes, I’m surprised. Also, I like to coach for short stints. I am still keeping myself fit. If I have an opportunity, I would gladly take it in any capacity,” he added.
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