Champion cricketers from the blues | Sunday Observer

Champion cricketers from the blues

The champion Sri Lanka cricket team that won the T20 World Cup for deaf players comprising Gimadu Malkam (captain), Sumudu Lanka (vice captain), Tharaka Sampath Jayasinghe, Lakshan Fernando, Tharindra Deepika Wimalaweera, Goyum Shanaka Walgama (wicket-keeper), Chamara Dishan, Asanka Manjula, Udaya Lakmal, Rajitha Asanka, Alenross Kalep, Ushan Lakshitha, Nuwan Hasaranga, Dinuka Sachin and Janaka Tharanga along with officials Indrani Ariyaratne (manager), Jayalath Aponso (coach), Ushantha Gunartne (assistant
The champion Sri Lanka cricket team that won the T20 World Cup for deaf players comprising Gimadu Malkam (captain), Sumudu Lanka (vice captain), Tharaka Sampath Jayasinghe, Lakshan Fernando, Tharindra Deepika Wimalaweera, Goyum Shanaka Walgama (wicket-keeper), Chamara Dishan, Asanka Manjula, Udaya Lakmal, Rajitha Asanka, Alenross Kalep, Ushan Lakshitha, Nuwan Hasaranga, Dinuka Sachin and Janaka Tharanga along with officials Indrani Ariyaratne (manager), Jayalath Aponso (coach), Ushantha Gunartne (assistant coach), Brian de Croose (interpreter), Mohamed Naizer (president – Sri Lanka Deaf Cricketers Association), Hemajith Vajira Kumara (secretary – SLDCA)and Sena Nandiweera (umpire)

A team of handicapped players from Sri Lanka pocket a World Cup when few gave them a dog’s chance :

Sri Lanka’s able-bodied cricketers may be still struggling to compete on the international scene but a team of players with hearing and speech handicaps have triumphed and won a World Cup when may people would have given them little or no chance to win.

They belong to the island’s Deaf Cricket Association and did not have specialist coaches, doctors, physios, nutritionists, state-of-the-art gyms or computer analysts. But they triumphed against all odds.

“We had a plan to win the World Cup (T20) and had a few months training under coach Jayalath Aponsu and assistant coach Ushantha Gunaratna who gave everything to us. Actually everything was done by our team members and we had a good team spirit”, said Gimadu Malkam, 21, the caption of the champion Sri Lanka deaf cricket team in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer.

The team’s expert interpreter Brian de Croos was at hand to put Malkam’s expressions into perspective during the interview.

“We always had a dream to win this World Cup. Last year we were Asia Cup runners up and this time we knew it could be done. My players practiced hard and our two coaches rallied us with the plans that worked out well in India”, said Malkam who hails from Ambalangoda.

“The two coaches Aponsu and Ushantha had to perform many tasks even that of a doctor and physio and we never gave up”, added Malkam. He bagged two awards for Man of the Final and Man of the Series in the tournament conducted by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

With limited cricket gear to look forward to, Malkam received what he calls “a lucky bat” from Sri Lanka women’s player Sripalee Weerakkody.

Malkam scored 388 runs and took 11 wickets and the oldest player was 41-year old Manjula Asanka who won the best bowler’s award for a haul of 15 wickets.

One other player in the team, Alenrose Kalep from Jaffna, was the fastest bowler who hit speeds of up to 130kmp.

The team was so confident of winning the World Cup that they complained of nothing and were fortunate to have the support of Kushil Gunasekera’s Foundation of Goodness that enabled the players to practice at their ground at Hikkaduwa while also practicing at the Galle Stadium and the NCC indoor nets in Colombo.

Some of the players also came from Monaragala, Galle, Matara and Hambantota besides Jaffna and Ambalangoda.

Malkam now hopes that they will be able to get some recognition and even play in the domestic inter club Premier League alongside the able bodied cricketers.

“If we did not win the World Cup nobody would have known about us and we would have had to go back to our villages without anything. I hope people will give us due recognition”, said Malkam.

Apart from a few players the rest do not have permanent jobs and are also hoping that with the intervention of the sports ministry the Sri Lanka Deaf Cricketers’ Association will be able to come under the auspices of Sri Lanka Cricket whose CEO Ashley de Silva had shown concern about their future.

Presently plans are underway to conduct the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next year.

The Sri Lanka Deaf cricket Association is currently headed by Anula Ranjani and she wasted no time in complimenting coaches Jayalath Aponsu and Ushantha Gunaratna who works for Sri Lanka Cricket. They also had a well-wisher in HNB Assurance at a time when enticing sponsors was not the easiest thing to do.

 

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