Harry Solomons, with his title being “The Entertainers”
If there are two things I can say about the Sri Lankan cricket teams of recent years it is that there is never a dull moment about their cricket and that this current team has, win or lose, made all Sri Lankans very proud. Last Saturday I bumped into Mitchell Starc (Australia’s young fast bowler) at a cricket dinner. Mitchell had just lost his place in the finals of this Tri Series due to a fair “touch up” he had playing Sri Lanka. He told me that the Australians actually enjoy playing the Sri Lankans because while they play their cricket hard, they were friendly, relaxed, smiled and even spoke to the Australian players.
In Sri Lankan cricket lingo, there are two very jovial sayings which have been in use for more than 50 years. . . and that is as far as I can remember. My Sinhalese (official Sri Lankan) is not the best and I stand corrected, but here goes
Win or Lose . . . We Booze! – pretty self explanatory, but very true.
This typifies the way Sri Lanka play the game and the way the Sri Lankan supporters enjoy the game. Whether their team is winning or losing, you will see the Sri Lankan spectator still smiling and still “bopping” away. No doubt, many of us cricket followers have seen this all over the world.
Last Friday evening at the MCG, when Sri Lanka beat Australia to win its place in the Finals, was a spectacular example of Sri Lankan cricket. The team played beautiful cricket while the supporters created the atmosphere with song and dance, smiles, cheering and colour that was something to behold. What wouldn’t any team in the world give for that atmosphere of fun and friendship? Sri Lankan cricket supporters in Melbourne not only outnumbered the Aussies 6/1 but created a scene of sound and splendour on a scale not even seen in Sri Lanka.
The Team: One thing that I feel fortunate about is that in my employment I am able to meet cricketers and many knowledgeable cricket followers from most parts of the world. Most importantly, I get to talk to cricket supporters first hand from all walks of life. I can proudly say that I have hardly met an Australian or for that matter any supporter of cricket who does not admire the way Sri Lankans play the game.
Each one of these Sri Lankan cricketers, led by an intelligent and inspirational Captain in Mahela Jayawardene, has a very special quality of talent and a very special gift that collectively or individually they have shown throughout to win the admiration and respect of the Australian cricket follower.
Any team that has beaten them has had to fight their butts off to gain that win, as we saw on Sunday at the Gabba. What a revelation of an innings from the smiling assassin, Nuwan Kulasekera and how good will Dinesh Chandimal be in two years time?
I have said before and will continue to say to those who care to listen:
“Imagine a tiny underdeveloped country in the Sub-continent;
Imagine the poverty and an ugly war that created such a massive crisis in that country for more than 25 years;
Imagine the corruption, scandals and changes at the Sri Lankan Cricket Board since the year dot. And still cricket survives and the talent keeps appearing from this small, friendly cricketing nation. It speaks volumes for the love of the game and the survival instincts of its cricket loving people.”