Our highest standards of school and club cricket depicted in the international scene

by Kasturiarachchi Warnakulasuriya
Another Sri Lankan cricket personality has been appointed to a highest ladder of the ICC. He is Jerome Jayaratna, who hails from S. Thomas’, Mt. Lavinia. He is being appointed to the position of Project Officer for cricket development. To have been selected for a post, which is the first of its kind, among 10 first class cricket playing nations, is a rare feat indeed! Congrats Jerome.

This young guy has been contributing towards the development of cricketing talents of our village lads in the outstations as the BCCSL Manager-Coaching and Developments for the past few months. The good results of this rich harvest, has been the criteria of his nomination by locals, which has made Sri Lanka proud.

Last year we saw Ranjan Madugalle’s assignment to a highest echelon of the ICC. In fact, he has been a much-sought-after match referee in the international cricket fraternity. Our man in the Asian cricket pool, is Duleep Mendis. He was assigned to look after the Asian cricket interests within the ICC. He is one of the 24 ambassadors as custodians of world cricket appointed to tour countries to globalise the game.

Umpiring brotherhood too, has been richly fetted by the sons of Sri Lanka. Kandiah Thirugnanasampanda Pillai Francis, popularly known as K.T, is one of them. He had adorned, the "white coat" and performed well in the middle, along with greats like Dickie Bird, Steve Bucknor, David Shepherd and the controversial Darrel Hair. According to Sid Buller, the famous English Umpire, "the best umpire is, the one who does the least number of errors." So K.T is one of them, who has done immense service to world cricket, by officiating in 25 Test and 62 ODIs. It is a pity that such a person who can serve the whole world in promoting cricket was not elevated to the status of a "knight", along with the other two knights.

Meanwhile Jayamohan Dalmiya’s (BCCI), has proposed the name of one former captain Arjuna Ranatunga for the ICC panel, along with two famous Pakistanis-Imran Khan and Zaheer Abbas.

Sri Lankan cricketers of yesteryear too, have been highly taken up in the international scene of Cambridge and Oxforrd fame. Sarams, Dr. C. H. Gunasekara, Gamini Goonasena, Stanley Jayasinghe, P. I. Peiris, Clive Inman, Gehan Mendis, Aravinda de Silva — all have shown colours at county cricket and varsity cricket in England. Past and present English cricketers like Dr. W. G. Grace, D. R. Jardine, Mike Smith, M. C. Cowdrey, Peter Parfitt, Ken Barrington, Barry Knight, Geoff Boycott, Ted Dexter, Mike Brearley, Mike Atherton, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, have had a high regard for these cricketers, when they played on English soil.

All these respects and recognition have been achieved, due to the untiring efforts and yeoman services, rendered by great principals of schools cricket masters, coaches, POGs and dedicated minor staff, in the days of yore, in their respective schools and clubs. I vow that no other country, in this part of the world, had been blessed with such fortune inheriting from the results of a colonial rule of which the masters, were happened to be the founder of this noble game. Those schools and club traditions, have been richly maintained for more than 150 years, by these stalwarts.

Today unfortunately it is a pity that some of the big schools with ample sports facilities, cannot turn up a cricketer each to follow suit. The reasons are obvious. It is either due to non-commitment, indiscipline, or favouritism and nepotism prevailing in selections today. The criteria of the cricket masters of the good olden days were the capabilities, talents, performances, discipline, commitment and sincerety of the poolists.

If we adhere to the past glorified principles and traditions and work hard, Sri Lanka will be able to bring some more cricket ambassadors into the world cricket fraternity. It’s heartening to see that out of Colombo schools, have taken a keen interest in producing good cricketers, to go into world scene. S.L. Under 19 team for the Youth World Cup, under the captaincy of Devan-Dhammika Niroshan, who had performed this feat earlier in Pakistan, may be our future prospects, if they follow these exemplary personalities.