Three Jaffna boys hob nob with world’s hardcore | Sunday Observer

Three Jaffna boys hob nob with world’s hardcore

22 November, 2020

The inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL) is finally set to get off the ground on Thursday and it will be a most memorable occasion for three young Jaffna boys who have been selected to the Jaffna Stallions squad.

In fact, it arrived as unprecedented news, marking the first-ever time any player from the North-East of the country earned a call to play alongside senior Sri Lankan players as well as overseas stars.

Of the three, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, comes into the contest already armed with a little bit of Sri Lanka’s U19 exposure. Nevertheless he is delighted.

“After having featured for Sri Lanka’s U19 and straightaway to get promoted to a higher level, my parents were also elated,” Viyaskanth said, speaking exclusively to the Sunday Observer from a high-end hotel in Hambantota.

“I’ve been selected to the squad and by gathering their experience and strategies I can apply that to succeed through club and emerging levels and ultimately the national side.”

Viyaskanth said it was an occasion he did not want to miss out on and could look forward to making the most of it.

“I’ll be gathering their vast experience. I’m longing to play alongside these local and global names, sharing the dressing room, particularly with overseas players. I come into this set up with a little bit of turf wicket exposure too,” he said.

Viyaskanth, turning 19 on December 5, apart from learning the game is busy setting his sights to learn outside that as well. “I’m also trying to learn and study the team coordination and management.

“I don’t think there will be that pressure factor. I’m not afraid of failing, because I know I have the support of my fellow team-mates,” said Viyaskanth who captained his school cricket team Jaffna Central College.

He was however cautious in agreeing if the peninsula’s sports community or community itself would look up to him as a role model. “It all depends on their perspective. But when I return home, I’ll remain as a central player always. Also, upon my return they may have formed a good impression and pinned additional expectations,” he said.

The Jaffna Stallions squad is due to commence training sessions tomorrow (23), ahead of their opener against Galle Gladiators on Friday (27).

For the other two Jaffna players, both from Centralite Viyaskanth’s rival school St. John College, this platform means abundance.

One of them Theivendram Dinoshan, a fresher in the team, sees the occasion as a “big deal”.

“I’m being very optimistic over a golden opportunity. I also believe this is only the beginning with more talent to step-in. I’m the happiest at this age itself in comparison with others. I was handed this chance.

“I should make the most. It shouldn’t be a case of a passing cloud, entering and exiting,” said Dinoshan.

Recounting his tough past Dinoshan said: “I started playing as a reserve from Under 13 till the Under 19 stage.

“Even if I’m limited only to a reserve I will not be worried that much. In fact that has been my history and I’ve withstood the hard grind ever since I took to the game.”

On rubbing shoulders with all classes of players Dinoshan said: “I’ve seen only Kumar Sangakkara. Now I am gradually getting to see others. If we observe and follow their lines of growth we can also up our game. Ultimately I too want to rise to the ranks of a professional player.”

Speaking on his team, Dinoshan, 18, said: “We (the trio) came with the mind-set that the likes of Thisara Perera won’t meet and greet us. But it was all a contrary here. Avishka Fernando and Binura Fernando willingly move along with us and share many things.”

Dinoshan’s fellow Johnian, Kanagarathnam Kapilraj said the few weeks spent in the bio-bubble has already been a “so far so good” stay.

Kapilraj opening up said: “Our captain Thisara Perera has captained the national side. But he treats us equally. He insists that we should mix and mingle more and more with them and to be involved during team meetings.

“Thisara Perera and coach Thilina Kandamby are always keen on giving us more opportunities.”

Touching on the importance of the first-of-its-kind tournament Kapilraj said that in the good-old days players after school level cricket quit citing lack of opportunities, but the scenario is now different.

“We have been called up for a tournament which will have a continuation. This is only going to entice the rest also to give it a go,” said Kapilraj.

The right-arm medium fast bowler said he hoped that the recognition of the three of them will induce the relevant district-based cricket boards to set up turf wickets and other facilities.

Except for cricket filling the air, on a lighter note Kapilraj joked the team, whose motto is Vaadaa Machan, means “come along buddy” engage in Tamil-Sinhala language classes.