Rangana bows out with emotion | Sunday Observer

Rangana bows out with emotion

As ‘SPORTSCOPE’ returns after a break two miracles came into focus.

Rangana Herath was a Miracle in many senses in our cricketing world. His spectacular feats and rescue efforts at crucial times when Sri Lanka Cricket needed divine help and his Magic, as it were, are etched in for hearts and minds. And so it was with deep emotion that his announcement at the Galle International Cricket Stadium of retirement was reluctantly accepted by cricket fans in particular and the country in general. He was fondly called ‘RANGAIYA’ by his team mates.

The other ‘Miracle’ was at the level of school cricket. Imagine a school side being shot out for 6 runs in just 10.5 overs in their second innings after making 72 in the first innings. Well that was exactly what happened. While ‘SPORTSCOPE’ resumes its innings, two events came into sharp focus. The other is a spectacular feat by the S. Thomas’ Mount Lavinia under 19 team against St. Mary’s College Kegalle that surely goes down into the record books.

Given the growing interest in inter-school cricket, which ‘SPORTSCOPE’ going forward will strive to bring into sharper focus, our lens zooms into the shocking happening on the ground by the sea that is S.Thomas’ at Mount Lavinia in an inter-school game. We do so as because except for one print media, the other print and electronic media outlets failed to give this happening the coverage it deserves.

And the bowler who made this collapse miracle possible was the Thomian left arm pacie KALANA PERERA, a Sri Lanka youth player who ended with --believe it or not --match figures of 16 for 18 runs. He had figures of 8 for 17 in the first innings and 8 for 1 in the second. REMARKABLE. There were 10 ‘ducks’ in the Marian second innings with one batsman M.PRATHARA making 2 and 4 runs being extras.

The talent scouts at Sri Lanka Cricket need not be told that in Kalana Perera there is an uncut gem. They should take it in, refine it and hand-polish it and market. It would hopefully become a best-selling and much in demand product. Let’s hope that as a Ranagana Herath bows out of the scene there will be others who, like Kalana, will emerge.

Left arm pacemen in Sri Lanka rarely surface and once they do, they must be taken in hand directed properly. Perera no doubt has the makings of national material. At the time of writing Perera has knocked up a hundred against Dharmaraja. So he proved that he is all round material.

Perera bowled a spell that mesmerized the Marian batsmen. He had them clueless. They were glued to their crease, unable to read his well concealed both-way swing. Not one batsmen could read or negotiate him.

While the Thomians would have celebrated this achievement they should also give credit to the persevering coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe who is in his 30th year as a coach for his gift to make outstanding cricketers out of boys and teams out of players.

For posterity here are the names of the two teams in this memorable encounter – S.THOMAS’ - Sithara Hapuhinna (C), Kalana Perera, Dellon Pieris, Thevian Eriyagama, Shannon Fernando, Manisha Rupasinghe, Shalin de Mel, Kishan Munasinghe, Dilwin Ratnayake, Umanga Suwars and Delon Fernando.

ST. MARY’S KEGALLE – A.Kalurachchi, K. Abeywickrema, S. Weerasooriya, D. Kotuwegode, M. Prathhara, P. Pethiyagoda, P.Walisinghe, H. Biyagama, N. Weeratunge, R. Ranasinghe and D. Senanayake.

Eddie Appathurai a keen Thomian cricket fan from his youth, tells me that one other Thomian bowler who made big news was another lefty armer BARNEY REID, one of the famous Reid brothers in Claude, Ronald, Buddy and Tiny. In 1962 BARNEY had the astonishing figures of 8 wickets for 2 runs against St.Sebastian’s College who were all out for 9 and later he bemused the Cambrian batsmen bagging 8 wickets for 9 runs in a Cambrian score of 30. These feats were also achieved on Thomian turf.

School cricket is the cradle of cricket in the country. In the good old days school cricket was given tremendous media support. But with more schools taking to the game after it attained Test status, newspapers could not cope with the avalanche of matches being played and it was no easy task finding space.

And now to the left arm spinning sensation RANGANA HERATH who had decided that Galle Stadium be his swan song after serving the country’s game as an obedient and faithful servant.

Galle was also the venue where he made his debut. And so as always with Rangana he fittingly makes a dramatic entry and a dramatic exit with fans cheering him along. At Galle there was a full house to watch him being given a farewell meant for Royalty. There were the lighting of fire crackers, with a set of cricketers forming a guard of honour an arch with bats held high for HERATH to walk through to thunderous applause supported by a horde of English supporters and the famed BARMY ARMY who had flown in from Queen’s country.

HERATH from the time he made his debut and sported the Sri Lanka cap, strode the fields, here and abroad like a colossus with great respect and was a simple, unassuming affable character. His stellar achievements did not go to his head. He kept his smile and his humility in tact.

He had a wide repertoire of well disguised deliveries - the well controlled slow ball, the arm bowl, the slider and the ball that spun viciously from leg to off. Batsmen facing him were non plussed --not knowing which way the ball will go. His amazing haul of over 400 wickets which made him the first left arm spinner to go over this mark speaks for itself.

But HERATH could have had more scalps had he mastered bowling the Chinaman. But that was his choice and regardless he acquitted himself with distinction.

When he walked on to the field for the last time, he had to his credit 99 scalps at this historic venue where illustrious international cricketers like Sir Donald Bradman and Sir Frank Worrell have played. He pocketed the prized scalp of England captain Joe Root whom he yorked to get to the century of wickets. Firecrackers were aplenty!

Now on to Test cricket. While Tests established and respected game of all other forms has its own traditions, it was nice to see the cricketers shed the coloured clothing that goes with playing ‘cowboy cricket’ get into whites and take the field.

Sri Lanka riddled with unwanted controversy, confused management and administration in disarray in recent times, saw its game also take a nose dive and lose the high respect it held in recent years. We hope it will only be a bad dream and that the administration and the game will regain its glorious past soon.

To the Test in Galle and it would have warmed the cockles of England supporters to watch wicket-keeper batsman Ben Foakes making a brilliant three figures score on debut. Flown in as a replacement for Johnny Bairstow who was injured, Foakes grabbed the opportunity with both hands as if to say, to etch his name in the record books.

How the England selectors will replace him and bring back Bairstow for the remaining Two Tests will be interesting to watch.

By the way enjoy life, play a straight bat, it has an expiry date on it.

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