Cricket and Sri Lanka saw huge victory on the 16th of December 2020 as a team which represented Jaffna, a part of this country who are 30 years behind the rest, were crowned champions of the inaugural Lanka Premier League.
It’s ironic when you realize that unity is the root of division. In a day and time where many are united in small groups – based on ethnicity, race, languages and nationality – causing division in the larger spectrum, here were a few Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, English, South African and even West Indians working together to compile a tournament, which was in need for 8 years, amidst a global pandemic.
The whole world was affirmative that this tournament was never going to see light in the middle of such a crisis, but after 15 days of exciting cricket, it showed us that if we unite under a wider cause, anything is possible. In this case, it was cricket, but as human beings, we could use humanity.
A 22-year old Wanindu Hasaranga – A Sinhalese from the south of Sri Lanka – was happy to help the 19-year old Vijayakanth Viyaskanth – A Tamil from the North of the country – to get better at his trade just because he saw potential in him. In a few years’ time Viyaskanth himself could be Wanindu’s competition in the national team, but does it matter? These are cricketers that we are talking about, these men have taken lessons for life from the competition in their sport for over a century now. Well, it probably is the only sport to have constituted the spirit it should be played with. So, they know it doesn’t matter from which race, ethnicity, or country your teammate comes from, if they do well, you are all going to win. And if they turn out to be a competitor to you, the only way forward is by getting better at the trade.
Moreover, you only get better every time you roll your arm, it doesn’t matter if it is for teaching or winning.
That is exactly why there was Wanindu of Galle, advising Viyaskanth of Jaffna, Thisara Perera of Ja Ela setting up a field that suits his bowling, Minod Bhanuka of Kurunegala screaming “Come on Malli…” from behind the stumps and Shoaib Malik of Pakistan completing a stunning catch to earn him his first wicket in T20 cricket. Tournaments like LPL just take cricket to a whole new scale of beauty.
We at ThePapare.com posted a graphic congratulating Viyaskanth on his T20 debut, and Boom! There were over 10,000 people from various religions, races and backgrounds, who genuinely were happy for the youngster and congratulated him. A fitting reply to those who continue to instigate hate on those same social media platforms.
This tournament also reminded many of us that ‘We are Sri Lankans, we fight until the job is done.’ And whenever we have forgotten this, cricket has reminded us. That is why the sport is held dear in the country. That is why this tournament happened in such trying times in the first place. And that is why Galle Gladiators reached the finals! Their captain, Bhanuka Rajapaksa fought valiantly even in the very last game of the tournament, even while limping because of a muscle strain.
Another leaf one could take out of this book is that ‘No player is bigger than the game.’ Many superstars in T20 Cricket turned down the tournament for various reasons. And with each of their exits, there was a rising sense of uncertainty. Many questioned if anyone would even watch the tournament.
Unverified sources reported that the tournament recorded over 100 million viewers on the very first day! It only kept getting better as there was some exciting cricket on display throughout the tourney. The tournament was praised by the cricketing fraternity around the world and many said they were surprised to see the kind of talent Sri Lanka has.
Finally, a few notes to take from the tournament for the cricketing geeks.
- Thisara Perera now can hit the ball well over extra-cover and showed that he has gotten stronger on his offside than before.
- Dushmantha Chameera version 2.0 looks lethal as he has tweaked his action to make him more compact through it, which has resulted in a more consistent line and length.
- Dasun Shanaka is a captain in the making and is excellent at No. 5.
- Lakshan Sandakan has improved immensely and could be used as the second spinner alongside Wanindu to form an attack of wrist-spin.
- If nutured well, Viyaskanth could be useful in Test Cricket with the bounce and turn he extracts with his high-arm action.
- Danushka Gunathilaka is in the form of his life and could well be opening the batting for Sri Lanka in white ball cricket.
- Ramesh Mendis seems to be a skilled off-spinner who turns the ball pretty well and could play all formats of cricket.
- Dhananjaya Lakshan could be the Angelo Mathews of old
- Wanindu Hasaranga could be a hot pick in T20 leagues pretty soon