Helicopter disrupts school cricket in Kandy

The second day’s play of a crucial Inter-school Under-19 cricket match between St. Sylvester’s College and Kalutara Vidyalaya came to a standstill yesterday as the Police Ground in Kandy where the match was to be played became a temporary aerodrome of a politician.

Not a ball could be bowled yesterday in this match as a helicopter has suddenly landed on the ground at around 8.30 a.m. and occupied the area of the wicket for almost eight hours making play completely impossible.

Informed sources said that Faizer Mustapha, former Minister of Tourism Promotion, had come in this Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter and left for some work by road and the helicopter had been occupying the playground throughout the day leaving the scheduled cricket encounter there in total disarray.

When contacted, school officials said the teams had waited the whole day, all in vain, anticipating the helicopter would take off at any time leaving the ground open for them to start the match.

"We were hoping to start the match no sooner the obstacle (helicopter) was removed" an official told ‘Sunday Island’.

"When he (former Minister Mustapha) arrived at the ground by the helicopter, we were there and he in fact congratulated our players before leaving the grounds," an official added.

Sources further said that the team officials had requested the officers, who had arrived with the former minister, to help them getting the helicopter removed so that they could get along with the play but such requests had proved futile.

"We asked from the officials of the MSD (Ministerial Security Division) to help us getting the helicopter removed. But they said it would take off at any time of the day. Unfortunately it didn’t happen," the official said.

The match had to be eventually abandoned at 3.30 pm.

It became a crucial encounter for both sides as the two schools were placed seventh (Kalutara Vidyalaya) and eighth (St. Sylvester’s) in the current points table of their group before the match.

Not the first time

This is in fact not the first time that a school cricket encounter at the Police Ground in Kandy was interrupted due to a similar circumstance, which school cricket teams unfortunately had no control of.

A match between a school in Kandy and a team from Colombo this season was interrupted earlier in the same fashion when some relatives of a top politician landed their helicopters at the match venue putting the game in jeopardy.

On another occasion, the ground officials had to request from participating schools, during a match played between D. S. Senanayake College, Colombo, and St. Sylvester’s College, Kandy, to finish the match before 2 p.m. on the game’s second day due to another impending ‘helicopter disturbance’.

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