Straight drive to down under glory
With the whirlwind of the Olympics, the Sri Lanka Premier League and the approaching Twenty20 World Cup capturing most of our attention, it is easy to lose sight of another sensational stage for young talent: The ICC Under 19 World Cup. The marquee junior cricket tournament, which kicked off in Australia, poses a unique opportunity for Sri Lanka to leave an imprint of its freewheeling brand of cricket and loudly announce its numerous emerging stars to the world.
The Mirror Magazine caught up with the Sri Lankan team gathered amidst their friends and family at the headquarters of Sri Lanka Cricket prior to their official sendoff.
Appearing extremely excited and to an extent slightly nervous; understandable, being that this will be the first international foray for many of them. However, this was not true of skipper and fast bowler Sanitha de Mel, a veteran of five international tournaments.
Sanitha’s tall and lanky frame could be seen planted amongst his colleagues, flashing a seemingly permanent smile. Come match day though, he is an altogether different beast.“I’ll try my best to help my teammates. As a team we all feel good. We had lots of practice sessions and we worked hard. We practiced one year for this,” Sanitha explains.
He can also rely on the wiles of Angelo Jayasinghe, his deputy and lead pacie, in case things start to go awry on the field. A certain hackneyed phrase about cucumbers and their ability to remain below room temperature would perfectly describe Angelo and the composure and confidence he exudes while talking about his team’s chances at the World Cup.
He adds however, that aside from the competition he will be looking to reestablish contact with some of his old friends. “Last year we went to India. Australia, West Indies and India were there and I made a lot of friends. Also during the Asia Cup I became friends with the guys from Pakistan,” Angelo reveals.
His teammates Niroshan Dickwella, fresh from winning the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, and Chamodh Pathirana, repeat these sentiments. Nevertheless all bonds of friendship will be momentarily forgotten as Niroshan, an astute batsman, and Chamodh, a crucial cog in a devastating pace quintet, try to decimate their opponents on the way to title glory.
The task though will be tough, as they play in a stacked Group D, with firm resistance sure to be produced by two very strong teams in South Africa and Bangladesh.
Veteran Coach Naveed Nawaz realized this and prepared the team as best as he could for action in Australia.
“We have been trying to replicate the conditions in Australia, preparing wickets in Dambulla to somewhat similar conditions and we had two camps in Dumbulla. So our preparation was ok. On paper, and going by history, it should be a good tournament, but it’s going to be tough for us,” he says.
Whatever awaits them in Australia, the Sri Lankan youngsters are sure to confront it with the uninhibited style of play that is associated with our island’s cricket. And that, more than anything, should be reason enough to cheer them on to victory.
comments powered by Disqus