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Sunday, 29 January 2012

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School and players didn't have money, 'home players' spent night at temple visiting players agreed to purchase own lunch:

Harangala MV, Kotmale play cricket the hard way

CRICKET: Harangala Maha Vidyalaya, Kotmale, is the first school from King Dutugemunu's refuse at Kotmale to play cricket at senior level this year.

However, the way they are playing the game is amidst great hardships which many would hardly believe and they need to be helped out.


Coach Saman Jayantha and his ever willing cricketers at Harangala Maha Vidyakara, Kotmale. Pictures by S.M. Jiffrey Abdeen Kandy Sports Corr.

This small school, a few kilometres off Nawalapitiya at a place called Kotmale, where King Dutugemunu took refuge and planned his mission to defeat King Elahara and free the country from foreign clutches.

It is on the Nawalapitiya - Talawakelle Road, lying amidst tea plantations and the area goes dead after 6 p.m. With hardly anybody seen on the main road.

The school started playing a few years ago at junior level and the cricketers, though coming from very poor families, shared the expenses and the master-in-charge, a very keen cricket enthusiast also helped them financially whenever the necessity arose. But now he has come to his tether's end.

Two year's ago they had a windfall in the form of cricket materials distributed to them by Sri Lanka Cricket through the then Presidential Advisor in cricket D.S. de Silva in keeping with Mahinda Chinthanaya taking cricket, to lesser known areas or 'Gamata Kreedawa' (Sports to the village). Over 400 schools benefited from this programme.

Harangala MV, too, received two bags of cricket materials on the recommendation made by the Central Province cricket coach Sunil Fernando.


Shashika Prabath vice-captain

These two cricket material bags were worth their weight in gold, for the cricketers from this school.

Skipped last year for want of money

Last year, they entered the schools under-19 division III tournament but could not play any match as they did not have the money and did not know where to start.

The school is too poor to give them any money, not even the umpires fee or the cost of the cricket balls. But the boys were determined. The closest town is Nawalapitiya but there is no ground there good enough to play school cricket at present. Thus the closest place where there is a ground is Kandy and the demand for grounds here is also great.

Thus, they were compelled to play their home matches at the Open Prison Camp grounds, Pallekele which is nearly 50 kilometres from Kotmale.

They have no playground to practice. The boys who could afford the expenses, played in the matches though there were a lot of talented cricketers turning up for practices in the small ground of the school devoid of grass. The boys who played in the matches had to share the umpires fees, ground hire charges, cost of transport from Kotmale to the venue, the cost of the balls, the cost of the meals and other incidental expenses.


Prapesh Kantha the captain and wicket-keeper

A clear example is the case when they, as the home team, played their match against Poramadulla Central College, Hanguranketha at the Prison grounds Pallekele last week.

They had just 11 players who could find the money to play this schools under-19 cricket tournament match. Their opponents agreed to meet purchase their lunch and tea but the cricketers from Harangala could not find the money for their meals. They spent the night at a Buddhist temple and they managed to find a little money to have bread and dhal as dinner. In the morning, they had a few pieces of bread and a little pol-sambol and plain tea to wash down as breakfast.

They took the field and played the match. Came the lunch break but there was no lunch for them as they did not have the money to purchase the lunch packets. They came to the pavilion and rested for 45 minutes and drank a glass of water and took the field again. Hungry stomach's could not stop them from giving out their best. Their opponents were 180 for 3 at the 'break' but they managed to dismiss them before the tea break after having glass of water their meals. During the lunch break, their coach Saman Jayantha was missing as he had gone out looking for money to purchase lunch or at least a substitute for lunch for the hungry cricketers .

Empathy stomach but Lakshan scored 182

But with all these hardships their batsman Samith Lakshan scored 182 runs with 21 fours and 4 sixes and the boys were alert on the field. Some could hardly run to field the ball for the fear of falling down unconscious and they were giddy alright. Can anyone believe this? Playing cricket without lunch. That's the hardship these cricketers from Harangala MV face. For them any footwear makes the boost as they do not have the money to purchase the usual boots. The team is packed with talented cricketers who are playing the game the hard way. There is no practice matches for them. 'Sir please find some money for us to continue playing in this tournament. Each player has to find around Rs. 1,200/ per match to meet all the expenses. Those who could find the money play and the others stay back. Our parents are very poor and they borrow money or pawn goods to find the money said the skipper of the side Prapesh Kantha.

The team is led by wicket keeper batsman Prapesh Kantha who is the first centurion of the side, having scored 102 runs against Diyatillake Central College. A very steady bat and a fine leader who can get the best from cricketers with hungry stomach's.

The vice-captain of the side is Shashika Prabath, another top batsman and a fast bowler.

The batsman in the side are Shashika Lalinda, Janitha Jayawickrema, Nalaka Sampath, Nadeera Chanaka, Udara Dananjaya, Chalaka Sandaruwan, Nalinda Wickremasinghe.

Cricketers deserve help

The pace attack comprises Nalaka Sampath and Gayan Kasanka who will open the attack followed by Nadeera Chanaka and Nalinda Wickremasinghe. There are two off-spinners in the side in Madusanka Ratnayake and Prabath Wijesinghe. The others in the squad are Udara Dananjaya, Sumedha Namal.

The team is coached by Saman Jayantha whose services is also honorary, with the cricketers at times making a small payment to meet his travelling expenses. Any sports benefactor interested in helping this school could contact the Master-In-Charge, Saman Jayawardena on mobile no. 078-3406800.

These school cricketers deserve to be helped both financially and morally, before they fall by their wayside. They cannot go on this journey into cricket without assistance!

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