Sri Lanka’s true cricketing sons stand up for a country at odds | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s true cricketing sons stand up for a country at odds

22 November, 2020

Sri Lanka may be some kind of a country with restricted movements and high anxiety tackling the global coronavirus pandemic, but its jaded people might just have something positive to wake up for in the form of a maiden sporting spectacle called the Lanka Premier League (LPL), a piece of cricketing pride that local organisers say is just what the nation needs.

The venue in Hambantota where the LPL will be showcased has already been polished, spruced up as well as sanitized for the big day on November 26 when the five teams in the running will line up for the opening ceremony in the rustic but progressive countryside whose inhabitants deserve much more.

And with the organisers compelled to make an unpleasant ruling of shutting out spectators from the matches over health restrictions, the LPL could become the most watched spectacle on local television overshadowing political debates as scores of local cricketers join a cast of international stars for the occasion that has agonizingly come to pass.

“This is a very big achievement for us after many years of toil,” said Sri Lanka Cricket’s Chief Operations Executive Ashley de Silva. “It was a very challenging time to organise an event of this magnitude, but with the support of the Sports Minister (Namal Rajapaksa), the security forces and everyone that mattered, everything has fallen into place c.”

While the LPL will have a host of overseas professionals, more attention is likely to be on the Sri Lankan players who have not been in the public eye since February this year when they played a series against the power packed West Indies team.

Angelo Matthews, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Dasun Shanaka, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Bhanuka Rajapakse, Suranga Lakmal, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka, Seekkuge Prasanna, Asela Gunaratne, Dhanuska Gunathilaka and Lahiru Udara Igalagamage form the vanguard of the local players along with a battery of the Sri Lanka fast bowlers.

Thisara Perera has already become a major hit among schoolboys in Jaffna, a region that had very little to brag about since the end in 2008 of a 30-year devastating north-east civil war where thousands perished.

The swashbuckling allrounder Perera leads a team that has been branded the Jaffna Stallions.

They’ll all be up against the likes of West Indies super pro Andree Russel and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi while Ireland’s Paul Sterling, West Indian Johnson Charles along with Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Mohamed Amir also from Pakistan will be some of the other overseas players on show.

Sri Lanka was the only spectator-teeming cricket country that struggled to sustain a T20 championship and that it had to materialize to empty stands was inevitable but the hope is that big bash showbiz has finally come to stay.

“After all the hard work that was put into the LPL we are certain that cricket followers in the country will support the players no matter where they would be watching them on television,” said De Silva.