Villavarayen: From a little known David to a Goliath among giants-BY DHAMMIKA RATNAWEERA

Mario Villavarayen with David Warner


Former Sri Lankan fast bowler Mario Villavarayen who was also the trainer of the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh teams, has now undertaken a dual role with the Jaffna Stallions at the Lanka Premier League (LPL).

He could not make his mark as a top bowler but he is going places off the field having worked as the Bangladesh strength and conditioning coach and now the bowling coach of the Jaffna Stallions team.

“I worked as strength and conditioning coach for the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh teams but to work in this T/20 League will give me a new experience,” said the 47-year-old Villavarayen in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

“This time it is special as I am the fast bowling coach and the strength and conditioning coach for the Jaffna team. I will have to look after famous bowlers like Kyle Abbott, Duanne Oliver, Usman Shinwari, Suranga Lakmal and Binura Fernando during my services,” added Villavarayan.

Cricketers are always keen to have good work-outs to improve on their fitness and strength and Villavarayen is absolutely aware of it considering his experience with the national team.

“I have more than twelve years of experience working with the Sri Lanka and Bangladesh teams. I resigned from the Bangladesh team last January to join the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise team Sunrises Hyderabad led by Australian opener David Warner,” said Villavarayen the former bowler from St. Peter’s College.

The IPL is the most competitive and goes on for nearly two months. With most teams now hiring people for dual roles it has given Villavarayen more experience.

“We have to work with one team only for a short period. A coach will have to manage the players very well focusing on their injuries. The Sunrises team had players of high calibre like Warner, Kane Williamson, Jason Holder, Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow and India’s Manish Panday.

“Working with different personalities was a good learning process,” said Villavarayen. “Especially the tournament like IPL players are very keen to show off their talents. Coaches find it easy to handle the attitude of players. The bowlers work load is greater than that of a batsman thus the coach has to give more priority to the bowlers fitness.”

Villavarayen also had the opportunity to play and coach Preston CC for two years in Melbourne. He also qualified as an Australian level two coach and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science.

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