Courtesy of the Island, 9 April 2010
The ‘Mail Online’ the official website of the United Kingdom newspaper ‘Daily Mail’, the UK’s second biggest-selling daily newspaper after ‘The Sun’, has chosen the 1996 World Cup winning Sri Lanka team of Arjuna Ranatunga as the third in the Top 50 Most Entertaining Teams in History. ‘Daily Mail’ is published by Associated Newspapers Ltd. and edited by Paul Dacre. The above Top 50 list published in the ‘Mail Online’ website on April 2 has been picked by Tom Bellwood. In its introductory remark, the website says: “What is more important: playing with style or winning at any cost?… As the artists of Arsenal and Barcelona face off in the Champions League quarter-final, Sportsmail celebrates the great sporting teams who put aestheticism above efficiency.
Copy of Photo in possession of Michael Roberts. Also see his Essaying Cricket (Colombo: Yapa, 2006).
Thankfully, most of our top 50 show that entertainment can go hand in hand with success…
Introducing the 1996 champion SL team, the ‘Mail Online’ Sportmail says: “This wasn’t just an entertaining side, they had come from nowhere to become world champions in the space of a few years – the fairytale story of the World Cup. Sri Lanka were powered by their opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who mauled all who faced him and became the prototype for all pinch-hitting batsmen at the top of the order. The final was particularly memorable for Aravinda de Silva, who took two catches and three wickets, including Australia’s top-scorers Mark Taylor and Ricky Ponting, and then scored 107 not out.”
The Top 10 Teams –
10. Barbarians – any era.
An English rugby team founded in 1890 as a result of William Percy Carpmael’s dream to spread good fellowship among all rugby football players
9. Tottenham – 1961
English football team captained by Danny Blanchflower to win a title double, the league and cup
8. Wigan Rugby League in England – between 1988-95
They won the Challenge Cup eight seasons in a row
7. Ajax – 1972
The Dutch soccer champions and European Cup winners featuring legends like Johan Neeskens and John Cruyff
6. All Blacks – 1995
The most complete Rugby World Cup team in the history, according to former South African fly-half Joel Stransky. The best team of the 1996 World Cup though South Africa were the ultimate winner. Jonah Lomu featured in this side
5. Barcelona – 2009
This Barca soccer team featuring Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique won the European Championship last year, and are on a roll
4. Hungary – 1953-54
Ference Puskas led this Mighty Magyars to emerge 1954 World Cup runner-up to West Germany 16 years after suffering the same fate at the hands of Italy
3. Sri Lanka 1996 Cricket World Cup Winners
Two pastel paintings celebrating Sri Lanka’s triumph in the World cup Finals at Lahore, By Jo Hoad,
2. Harlem Globetrotters
As showcase teams go, this is easily the finest. The true basketball wizards
1. Brazil – 1970
Will this side ever be beaten in terms of sheer breath-taking ability? We doubt it, because this side had it all, in spades.
They were unique to a man and words struggle to describe the efficacy with which they played the game, on a platform that mere mortals could only dream of. It was art with Pele in his last World Cup, this was the side that produced perhaps the finest team goal of all time in the final against Italy. Quite rightly, they let them keep the trophy.