Category Archives: Tamil demonstrations

Duleep Mendis: Doughty Fighter, A Man to Command

Rex Clementine, in The Island, 9 June 2018, where the title runs:  “Duleep’s grit and courage – need of the hour”

A Tamil demonstration kinda opened proceedings when the Aussies were batting at the Oval — Editor, Cricketique

It was on a day like this, 43 years ago, Sri Lankan cricket made its biggest impact in the world stage. The six full members of the ICC were automatic choices for the 1975 World Cup and in a bid to make up the numbers, Sri Lanka and a team comprising cricketers from East Africa were invited to play the inaugural event. The quality of Sri Lankan cricket was displayed on this day at The Oval against an Australian side comprising the Chappell brothers, Dennis Lille, Jeff Thomson and others.

A century by Alan Turner and half-centuries by Rick McCosker, Greg Chappell, and Doug Walters had propelled Australia to a total of 328. Many would have thought that Sri Lanka had little chance. But they did well; reaching 150 for two and needed 179 runs in 30 overs with eight wickets in hand.  Australian skipper Ian Chappell was a worried man. Continue reading

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When Duleep Mendis was felled by Thomson at the Oval, 11 June 1975

Mevan Pieris,  in an email note to a relative who sent him the first of these images

“I remember the incident very clearly. Duleep Mendis was batting superbly, striking the Australian bowlers with great ease on a perfect and placid London Oval pitch. He was about 35 runs when Thompson was re-introduced into the attack for his second spell. Thompson was unimaginably fast (100 mph) and deadly as the ball was slung by him with a whipping action and would cut back to the right hander off the pitch. The particular delivery which felled Duleep I saw clearly: it was pitched short outside the off stump and Mendis shaped for a sizzling cut which was his favourite shot. But alas, the ball cut back and struck him right in the centre of the temple.

DULEEP hit-1975 Our dressing room was upstairs in the main Oval Pavillion. As Mendis sank to the ground, Denis Chanmugam and I ran to the pitch instantly. I found Duleep in a hopeless situation with his eye balls turning upwards. Denis and I lifted him up and carried him back to the pavilion. Mendis was made of steel and you can see him even in this hopeless situation shielding his eyes from the burning sun. Continue reading

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Sri Lankan Cricketers to be targetted in Chennai

Special Correspondent

Tamilstudents Chennai-The Students Federation for Free Eelam is planning to petition the city police commissioner to urge him not to grant permission for the IPL cricket matches in Chennai, if Sri Lankan players are participating. The first IPL match this season is to be played between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium on April 6. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s application seeking a public resort licence to conduct the match is pending with the city police.

The federation’s state coordinator, V. Prabhakaran, said letters would be written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, IPL team owners as well as stadium authorities to not permit Sri Lankans to play in Chennai as it would hurt the sentiments of Tamils in the State. “A decision to this effect was taken after a majority of youth, who responded to a questionnaire in Chennai on Sunday, concurred with our view that Sri Lankan players should not be allowed to play in Chennai,” he said. Earlier in the day, several teams of students went around distributing hundreds of questionnaires to youth in the city. Some of the questions were – are you aware of the Sri Lankan issue? Should Sri Lankan players be allowed to play IPL in Chennai? Do you support the ongoing students’ protests? Continue reading


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Incursions and Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket

BOOK EVENT at Premadasa Stadium in 2011 – courtesy of

This presentation of my book Incursions and Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket occurred at the R. Premadasa Stadium last year, during the World Cup 2011 squad’s practice session. It was deliberately timed before the quarter-finals of the World Cup because this author holds that the plaudits that should be extended to the cricketers remain valid, irrespective of the joys or sorrows attending the outcome of one game.

This gesture marks my appreciation of the achievements secured by the various Sri Lankan squads in recent years and, most significantly, the measured and calm manner in which they responded to the terrorist attack in Lahore on March 3, 2009, an event that is reviewed as Chapter VI in this book.

The book is available at Vijitha Yapa bookshops and at

                                                                                                                                                                     Pics by Eranga Jayawardena



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Tamils protest at Lord’s over allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka

Andy Bull, in The Guardian, 5 June 2011

Around 2.45 pm a yellow weather balloon bobbed up above the Lord’s pavilion. It had “Boycott Sri Lanka” scrawled on the side in thick black ink, and a Tamil flag tied around the rope that tethered it to the ground. Cricket has often been portrayed as something that has helped hold Sri Lankan society together in the last 30 years. Only this week Kumar Sangakkara described it as the “heal-all of Sri Lanka’s social evils”. But this series is being played out to the sound of furious protests from London’s sizeable Tamil community, who are calling for the ECB to refuse to play against Sri Lanka until an independent investigation has been launched into allegations of war crimes committed by the government at the end of civil war in 2009. The UN estimates that 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed.

 “The Tamil people hoped Muttiah Muralitharan, now retired from Test cricket, would support their cause.”is the Guardian’s imposed caption prompted by the demo-spokesman’s comments [see below] — Photo by Eranga Jayawardena

The idea that the national team rises above the rifts that run so deep in Sri Lankan society looks a little less convincing since Muttiah Muralitharan has retired. Murali was one of the few Tamils in the team, along with Angelo Mathews, who is currently injured. “We hoped Murali would say something to support the Tamil people but he ended up supporting President Rajapaksa,” said Tamil spokesman Thusiyan Nandakumar. “At the time when the Tamil people were down and out, many people looked up to Murali to say something. And those people were disappointed when he did not. He was the only Tamil face out there who was recognised worldwide, but he has not even joined us in asking for an independent investigation.” Several English politicians have, including David Cameron. Continue reading

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Sa’adi Thawfeeq reviews two books on Lankan cricket

Courtesy of The Nation , 17 April 2011

Incursions & Excursions In And Around Sri Lankan Cricket
By Michael Roberts
Published by Vijitha Yapa Publications
Price: Rs. 1,500/-
Mariamma, groundswoman extraordinary- Oval, Colombo

Sathasivam & Bradman toss, 1948

 Moment of triumph, 17 March 1996, Lahore —Pic from Crosscurrents

Michael Roberts has painstakingly done a lot of research in putting together his latest book Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket. The book brings to light a wide variety of subjects like the politics that affect Sri Lanka Cricket administration, the ethnicity involving clubs and national teams, the LTTE’s attempts to promote their cause through cricket, the Muralitharan controversy saga and its repercussions and the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team at Lahore. All these chapters have been widely researched by Roberts who has the knack of gathering information by talking to people concerned and storing it in a computer like mind to put it later into print form either by articles which he sends widely to various newspapers or present it in a book like the one under review. The outstanding feature of the book is the photos section where Roberts has managed to lay his hands on some rare and unpublished photos of Sri Lanka cricket (there are over 100 colour and black and white photos). The book has been written in his own inimitable style. The one flaw in the publication is in the photos section titled Great Moments & Significant Facet (34) where it features pictures of a Sidath Wettimuny cover drive, a young Arjuna Ranatunga returning to the pavilion after a fighting knock against Australia in 1983 and another picture of Ranatunga acknowledging the cheers after his final innings for his country. All three pictures have the identical caption of ‘Sidath Wettimuny drives’. If not for this rare lapse it is another fine Roberts’s masterpiece. – [ST]

From Rags To Riches
By Rex Clementine

Published by Godage International Publishers (Pvt) Ltd
Price: Rs 800/- Continue reading

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Sri Lankan cricket tour of England under fire

Shamindra Ferdinando, from the Island, 2 May 2011

The UK-based LTTE rump is planning to disrupt the Sri Lankan cricket team’s forthcoming tour of England, The Island learns. A senior government official told ‘The Island’ that the LTTE activists had organised a series of protests, targeting the Sri Lankan team and in a bid to pressure the England Cricket Board to call off the tour. Responding to a query, the official said that it would be the responsibility of the UK authorities to ensure the safety and security of the visiting cricket team.

 Tamils protest at Kennington Oval, 11 June 1975 — for the text of their broadsheet and a review of this moment,see ‘Cricket as Protest Arena,” in Roberts, Incusions and excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket, Colombo, 2011, distributedvia

The official said that the organisers had launched a campaign to bring a large group of Eelam activists on May 14 morning to the Oxbridge Cricket Ground, where Tillekeratne Dilshan’s team would be playing their first match. According to him, the protesters would try to disrupt the match, unless the British took tangible action to keep them at bay. The first Test match begins on May 26 at Sophia Gardens Cardiff. The tour includes three Tests, one T- 20 international and five ODIs. According to a widely circulated message among the eelamists, the LTTE rump says the UK cut all bilateral relations with Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe in 2008 due to large scale human rights violations in that country. South Africa, too, had been subject to ‘sports sanctions’ not only by the British, but FIFA and IOC as well, the eelamists say, urging the British to slap sanctions on Sri Lanka.

The LTTE rump has declared that a team which represented “war criminals and a genocidal state,” should not be welcomed in the UK. UK-based Ram Sivalingham, Deputy Prime Minister of the so-called Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) called for a meet at Scarborough Civic Centre, conference Room B, on May Day, to discuss ways and means of pressuring the UNSG to appoint an independent international war crimes investigation in spite of strong protests by the GoSL. Sources said that Continue reading

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Incursions … around Sri Lankan Cricket

Michael Roberts

Incursions and Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket is a new book that runs to 176 pages plus 32 pages of photographs that are not paginated, but numbered, in a cluster in the middle. The book is available at Vijitha Yapa Publications who also have a credit card system which runs efficiently –







 Pic courtesy of Herald & Weekly Times     


I.          Introduction                                                                                                   

II.        Landmarks and Threads in Sri Lankan Cricket           

III.    Wunderkidz in a Blunderland: Tensions & Tales from Sri Lankan Cricket                                

 IV.     Cricket as Protest Arena: Tamil Incursions                     

V.      Saving Murali: Action Onfield and Off-field, 1995-2005                     

VI.    Cricket under Siege: The Lahore Attack, 3 March 2009           

           Amalgamated Bibliography       


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Two anxious moments, one solid innings: Wettimuny at Lord’s, 23 August 1984

Michael Roberts

After Sri Lanka had been asked to bat first by David Gower in conditions that were expected to favour bowlers during their first Test Match abroad at Lord’s on 23 August 1984, Sidath Wettimuny was extremely nervous as he took guard.[1] Only those few cricketers who have gone through such an experience at a big match in front of a large crowd could really comprehend the tension coursing through his body at this moment.

  Pic by Getty Images

 Then, another shaft of anxiety penetrated Sidath’s being  as a crowd of some 20-30 young Sri Lankan Tamil men stormed onto the cricket field yelling and shouting. Anticipating the possibility of an attack,[2] he made a tactical move and withdrew to the cluster of English slip fielders.  The Englishmen asked him what was transpiring. No explanation was called for: by then, the Tamil demonstrators lay on the turf pitch with their placards voicing their grievances. It was clearly a protest against the political conditions facing Tamils living in Sri Lanka and an activity sponsored by one or other of the militant organisations in operation at this point of time; or even perhaps a combined operation.

    Unfortunately, Sidath Wettimuny cannot recall the details imprinted on placard or presented as shout. Logically, however, one can conjecture[3] that the pogrom that had been directed by both state functionaries and popular action against Tamils living in the south-western and central districts of the island[4] in late July 1983 was featured in the grievances expressed; and that the liberation struggle for Thamilīlam (Eelam in short) was a prominent emphasis.[5] I stress here that Sri Lanka had become an international pariah[6] after the pogrom of July 1983 coming as the latter did on top of a referendum that extended the term of J. R. Jayewardene’s government by plebiscitarian vote.

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Two Abstracts summarizing two essays on Sri Lanka’s cricket history, 2007 & 2009

Michael Roberts

 Squad that beat India in Ahmedabad early 1965

 These abstracts will give readers some sense of the content so that those wishing to pursue the topic can seek out the original print source. Not that (1) the articles were finalized about 18-24 months before appearing in print, that being the normal time for review processes and printing and (2) there is some overlap between the two articles.

They mesh with the Item on Sangakkara’s interview with Al-Jazeera one week after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket entourage at Lahore on 3 March 2009 in [where there are anumber of interesting photographs]. They are presented here in part because they anticipate the publication of the following article in toto within “Cricketing Fervour and Islamic Fervour: Marginalisation in the Diaspora”, The International Journal of the History of Sport, June-Sept. 2004, 3 & 4: 550-63.

Michael Roberts, Landmarks and threads in the cricketing universe of Sri Lanka,Sport in Society, 2007, 10: 120-42.

ABSTRACT:  This article analyses the political contexts impinging upon cricket as well as the politics within the cricketing universe. Organized along temporal as well as thematic lines, it beginswith the story of cricket as a pastime for the ruling British elements and marks the importance of total institutions such as military regiments and schools in its emergence in the nineteenth century. The principal engine of expansion, however, was the institutioncalled the ‘club’. For over 100 years cricket was also an urban phenomenon, though the planting clubs were a site for its expressions of mannered masculinity. A paradox emerges: cricket was both an agency of Westernization and a site for challenges to white, British notions of superiority.As a largely elitist sport confined to the Ceylonese ‘middle class’, it was one of the earliest vehicles of Ceylonese nationalism. This sentiment marked indigenous sentiment without nullifying the ethnic distinctions of clubs centred on Sinhalese, Burghers,Tamil and so on. Thus in the post-independence era the Sri Lankan Tamils were among those who supported the Ceylonese team when they faced the Tamils of southern India in the regular encounter for the Gopalan Trophy (1953–76). Many forces promoted thepopularity of the game among the urban middle classes, not least the popularity of the Ashes and tours by visiting foreign teams in the twentieth century. But until the 1960s/1970s cricket at the highest level was not only elitist, but also dominated by (a) specific elite schools with cultural capital and a powerful cricketing heritage and (b) by the metropolis of Colombo. However, the flow-on from a populist political revolution via the ballot in 1956, which saw the emergence of linguistic nationalism associated with the Sinhala language, eventually penetrated the fields of cricket. Good cricketers from ‘Buddhist schools’ and/or outstation schools began to secure places in the top eleven and eventually, by the 1980s,commanded the scene. This development was one thread in the democratization and popularization of the game, a process assisted by commentaries in the vernacular from thelate 1960s as well as the impact of colour television from 1981 onwards.


 Sanath and Roshan hug after record stand at Premadasa Stadium


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