Dad’s Army to invade cricket field | Sunday Observer

Dad’s Army to invade cricket field

The front-line force! From left- Ravindra Pushpakumara, Pramodya Wickremasinghe, Chamila Gamage, Upul Chandana, Roy Dias, Arjuna Ranatunga, Lanka de Silva, Hashan Tillekaratne, Nalliah Devarajan, Hemantha Devapriya and Nuwan Zoysa with their Lion mascot
The front-line force! From left- Ravindra Pushpakumara, Pramodya Wickremasinghe, Chamila Gamage, Upul Chandana, Roy Dias, Arjuna Ranatunga, Lanka de Silva, Hashan Tillekaratne, Nalliah Devarajan, Hemantha Devapriya and Nuwan Zoysa with their Lion mascot

They may no longer be the superstars of Sri Lanka cricket but for too long have they put up with the super brats of the bat and ball game and will come out in their numbers to set the course for on-field decency with the creation of a new tournament for retired players who now see themselves as super dads.

The tournament will officially get underway on November 3 at venues in Colombo with several former exponents and ex-World Cup stars of 1996 playing various roles in a bid to get off the ground.

Among them is the onetime General of the Sri Lanka team Arjuna Ranatunga as the tournament’s mentor, the late-blooming innovator Ravindra Pushpakumara as tournament director and the evergreen Chaminda Vaas who will be the Face of the Tournament, a virtual brand ambassador.

Ranatunga has already got down to business and notified the International Cricket Council (ICC) fearing his off-field detractors or what he calls “mafia” may look to land a spike and bark match-fixing while at the same time throwing out a challenge to anyone who contends that cricket is now just middle of the road mush for mums and dads.

“I don’t move about with the wrong people who are destroying the sport”, Ranatunga declared. “We have come together to resurrect the sport’s values and tell school children that what matters most is sportsmanship and we want to change the culture of cricket that we see today”.

The retired cricketers, some of whom may be unrecognizable with puffed up tummies and graying heads, will take their places on the field while representing 18 teams, 17 of them carrying the names of their respective schools that produced them.

They will showcase themselves while promoting the norms of fair-play that are now rarely seen on the playing field as they compete for three prizes, the Super Dads, Champions and Challengers trophies.

The tournament’s three finals are scheduled for November 18 in the cricket crazy suburb of Moratuwa where a night lighting system will be installed for the occasion.

To what extent the concept can bring about change will be something the experts will have to worry about as some of them could argue the modern game can no longer be taken back to the past with professionalism having paved the way for its commercialization and players under intense pressure to deliver even at the cost of ethics by cheating.

But Ranatunga, viewed as one man who can confront a mafia, if it exists, may be able to go by the fact that most members of his clan possess track records to drive home their message.

“We have been in the back seat while the mafia ran the game. We have to take responsibility and cannot wash our hands off what is happening today”, Ranatunga said.

Among the role models is the likeable Roy Dias, probably the most gentlemanly of all to grace the international playing fields at a time when even the ICC had no players’ Code of Conduct to enforce.

Dias will be representing St. Peter’s College old boys and if his presence cannot change anything, nothing will.

To qualify for the tournament, a player should have four years of retirement from the Sri Lanka team behind him and as many as 80 ex-Test and ODI cricketers are eligible or are already named in their respective school old boy teams.

Any player below the age of 35 is not eligible and should not have featured in the domestic First Class tournament during the preceding year. 

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