Cricket or for that matter any sport needs sponsors to sustain it. Whilst the game will survive with sponsorship, the survival of the player or players cannot be assured by sponsors alone! Hence the player has to be dependent on employment to move forward not just for his cricket but for his career too. No player is guaranteed of a bright future in cricket only and a stable job is as important in most cases, if you don’t reach the top. On that score the Sri Lankan cricketers have been most fortunate, to have an association which will celebrate one hundred years very shortly and that is the Mercantile Cricket Association or better known as the MCA!
Interestingly founded by our colonial masters the British in 1911, the MCA did kick off with a match between two British companies Cumberbatch SC vs Lipton SC. Since then the services rendered by the MCA to cricket in general and player in particular has been massive. With seven major tournaments involving almost five hundred games, the MCA has confirmed its status as a major player of cricket development in the country.
Besides greats of yesteryear, some of the current greats too have walked through corridors of the MCA and have pitted themselves on the matting wicket which used to be at hand sometime ago.
With a dynamic team of professionals taking over the reigns and led by some great personalities the MCA has transformed itself to a truly vibrant institution providing not just cricket but a hype of social activities too, not forgetting the kids who hone their skills through a very well run cricket academy. The passion these individuals who serve the organization on a voluntary basis is reflected in the activities which are carried out on a daily basis.
A visit to the MCA grounds which interestingly was an airstrip during the World War II for smaller aircrafts would indicate to you the involvement it has in the lives of the elite and the others of Colombo. Whilst the club house would have its visitors enjoying their evening with a drink being served or a game of pool, the ground will be host to a number of young and old trying their hand at the game they love with various types of practices ranging from batting in the middle to fitness and fielding, which also offers entertainment to the amused onlooker!
In addition to all their cricket and social work, I believe the one great service that can never be matched by any individual or an institution is the employment the member organization provides to the cricketers of this country. Besides offering the players a career, the members of the MCA have encouraged its staff to continue their cricketing activity even at the expense of work, which is a God sent opening for a youngster having to decide between his cricket and work. It is a common story associated with most past cricketers where they had given up the game they love to establish themselves in a more stable profession.
owever the scenario has now changed for the better and cricketers of all walks of life could easily decide to continue their cricket thanks to the great support rendered by the MCA and its members. The A and B division tournaments which are generally played amongst the best cricketers in the country also offers entertainment, experience to the young cricketer and above all the development and the passion the game needs.
Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading
cricket promoter and an
international cricket commentator