Outstation junior cricketers of little known schools got a valuable opportunity to showcase their talents against the best in the country at the Prima Champions Trophy Inter District Under-15 tournament which ended with the final at Colts Grounds on Thursday.
For the first time the tournament organised by the Sri Lanka Cricket coaching department attracted a team from Jaffna. The Jaffna team grabbed the opportunity with both hands as they remained unbeaten in the first round to reach quarter finals. The talents of Jaffna cricketers were hidden for decades due to war and transportation difficulties. Playing in the tournament for the first time, probably they were the team that made the most of the opportunity before their debut campaign ended against defending champions Kandy in the quarter finals.
For a team which came to the tournament aiming to improve their standards and to earn a quarter final berth was a huge achievement. One might find that the format of the tournament too had helped them to reach the knockout stage, but for them to remain unbeaten until then, was an achievement in itself as the debutants lead by St. Patrick’s College player, Ajith Darwin.
Each team of the district fielded talented players from each school of the district and some players were little heard at the school circle, came up with brilliant performances for their district teams.
The teenagers from as far as Batticaloa, Mannar, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Badulla where some of their schools still to make a big impact at the school circle, could perform on the same stage with prestigious cricket playing schools.
Even the cricketers of little known schools in the Southern and Western Province got the opportunity to expose their talents in the matches against well known schools in the country. One such cricketer to make a headline for his credit was Maduka Vimukthi, a hard hitting opener. He was hardly known when he played for Gamini Vidyalaya Bantota in school matches. But by the time the curtain came down on the Prima Champions Trophy, he had made his mark.
He played just three matches and scored a half century each in the first two to help Galle reach semi final. His blistering 74 in just 30 balls was enough to knock the daylight out of formidable Colombo North ‘A’ in the quarter final. The knock included six fours and six sixes. When Vimukthi reached 50 runs whacking the loose balls and the free hits, his opening partner, Gallage was left stranded in two runs to his name. That knock was probably the fastest in the tournament then.
He couldn’t continue in the same fission in the semi final for Galle as he was out less than 20 runs but he showcased athleticism in the field to make amends for his batting failure. A superb one handed catch in the deep in the dying stages of the game helped dismiss Kandy’s top scorer to post a good fight till the last is bowled.
There were host of good performers from formidable teams of Colombo, Kandy and Kurunegala, but outstation cricketers by receiving this fabulous opportunity, displayed their talents and outshone their character and capability at the just concluded tourney.