Naushad Amit, in the Sunday Times, May 2011
Teamwork interlaced with individual brilliance by all team members enabled Bloomfield Cricket and Athletics Club to clinch the championship title at the inter-club Premier Tier ‘A’ tournament during the 2010/11 season which ended last week. At a crucial time when Bloomfield are reviving their presence as a leading club in the Colombo cricket circuit this win would definitely bring them the much needed confidence to carry on their future endeavors. Bloomfield however had to wait for seven long years to reach this milestone despite losing one of their key players, the newly appointedSri Lankacaptain T.M. Dilshan before the season commenced.
Yet the senior players such as Saman Jayantha, skipper Chinthaka Jayasinghe, off-spinner Suraj Randiv and wicketkeeper/batsman Prasanna Jayawardena took the burden on to their shoulders to see their team emerge the worthy winners. In addition prominent and emerging players rose to the occasion with timely contributions to assist the cause. “We planned this season well ahead with two ambitions. Unfortunately we could not win the limited overs championship as planned. We did not count it as a major setback on our way to the Premier championship. We anticipated this from the very beginning like any other team. But our campaign was better than the rest,” claimed a jubilant coach Tharanga Dhammika.Dhammika who took over as coach before the previous season had worked hard to set the goal in the back of the minds of the players who were equally eager to assist. InitiallySri Lankamiddle order batsman Chamara Silva was appointed as the skipper but he only found the time forBloomfieldin the limited overs tournament. They could not fulfill their dreams there, due to Silva’s commitment with the national team at the World Cup. Another prominent batsman Chinthaka Jayasinghe, who is on the rise as a potential top order batsman forSri Lanka, was given the leadership role for the Premier season.
“It was not so complicated to lead a side that was well committed and dedicated. We began our preparations well ahead of the season. This helped my task as the skipper and also the coaching staff to identify the true potential of the players. The players on their part were well disciplined and highly keen to overcome their weaknesses. Apart from cricket we would stick as a team off the field too. After each practice session the entire team played a bit of soccer or tap rugby which I think helped us to further strengthen our bonds as team mates,” said skipper Jayasinghe.
According to Tharanga,Bloomfieldhad their long term plan well set but faced their opponents according to how they fared during the game and implemented their plans into sessions and innings. They faced a major blow in their very first game but made sure the amendments worked accordingly as they went on from match to match. At the end of ten matchesBloomfieldrecorded five outright wins and earned first innings points at three drawn games. They lost a match before being declared as 2010/11 Premier Champions.
“I would consider it as a magical comeback after the result of the first match which led to a perfect finish to a successful season. If I look back during the entire season as the coach I did not apply unnecessary pressure on the players. What I wanted from them was a good performance during the time they are active on the field and they delivered. We neither underestimated our opponents nor were we overconfident. Our boys just played according to what the opponents had to offer and it all came our way,” Tharanga added.
Bloomfieldopened their Premier campaign against two-time champions Colts but ended up conceding first innings points to their opponents. From their disappointing startBloomfieldbounced back to record two convincing wins against former champions Chilaw Marians andBadureliyaSCbut lost outright to NCC in their fourth match. However theReid Avenueboys regrouped to collected first innings points in their drawn match against Ragama CC. From that revivalBloomfieldrecorded two more outright wins against Lankan CC and Saracens. In their following matchBloomfieldwent on to post a massive 612 runs against Tamil Union where they obtained first innings points in a drawn game. After their match against SSC was abandoned due to rainBloomfieldwent on to win the crucial final match of the season against CCC.
Though the contributions were greatly expected from seasoned campaignersBloomfieldlost the services of off-spinner Randiv and paceman Nuwan Pradeep midway of the season in addition to Silva. Randiv was in great shape with 52 wickets in seven matches when he left to join Chennai Super Kings at the Indian Premier League. ButBloomfieldhad optional bowlers to fill the vacant gap.
“Saman Jayantha who was doing well as a batsman took up spinning as a part-timer. Then there were other youngsters who contributed well. In the absence of Silva we found a couple of perfect replacements who also performed well when the opportunity was given. This talent and performances gave us the much needed morale,” Jayasinghe added.
Tharanga was highly motivated by the fact that his players’ interest through the entire season was keen as mustard. He said that players attended practice sessions earlier than the scheduled times to perfect their weak spots. Additionally the management of the Bloomfield club headed by Hirantha Perera and its cricket committee headed led by former national cricketer turned coach Jayantha Seneviratne had backed the team to the hilt.
“At Premier level it’s a very good sign. They know that they are no longer amateurs. When ten catches came our boys grabbed at least eight. When a batsman or a bowler failed he would not hesitate to come to me for help. This shows how dedicated our boys were. With cricketers of this nature Bloomfield can certainly go out to defend the title next season as well,” stated buoyant Tharanga.