THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY HONORABLE THILANGA SUMATHIPALA, PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA CRICKET AT THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF SRI LANKA CRICKET HELD ON THE 15TH MARCH, 2018 IN COLOMBO.
Honorable Ministers, Your Excellency’s, my friends and colleagues of the International Cricket Council and the Asian Cricket Council, Honoured guests from overseas, my dear players, fellow cricket administrators and friends.
As the President of Sri Lanka Cricket, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this special occasion, as we celebrate a important milestone in the history of cricket in Sri Lanka.
Cricket was first introduced to Sri Lanka somewhere during the early 19th century, and although during its first years it was more in the domain of the British and other European settlers, it soon garnered interest amongst the native Sri Lankan population and today 186 years later it is the most popular sport in the island, akin to a religion to all Sri Lankans.
The Ceylon Cricket Association, Sri Lanka’s first administrative body for the game of Cricket was formed in 1922, under the Chairmanship of Dr. John Rockwood who was a noted administrator in Ceylonese cricket, and the Ceylon First XI played their inaugural first class game in February of 1926.
1948, saw the dawn of Ceylon’s independence from Great Britain, and with it the establishment of the Board of Control for Cricket in Ceylon under the incumbent President of the Ceylon Cricket Association, P Saravanamuttu, thus beginning the era we now celebrate 70 years on.
Sri Lanka is a land of bubbly and fun loving people, to whom cricket is a passion akin to religion. One needs only to wonder through the central Colombo area during the month of March to experience the raw energy with which cricket is celebrated during the traditional ‘Big Match’ season between rival schools.
The Battle of the Blues played between Royal College and St Thomas’ College since 1879 is considered the oldest schools fixture in the world, and the second oldest cricket fixture overall.
Through the years cricket has been the unifying force that has not only bridged the gap between the various diverse ethnicities, races, religions and castes of the Sri Lankan people, but has been the comfort to their souls in the face of the turbulence of a war that spanned three decades, and the devastating effects of the catastrophic Tsunami in 2004.
The joyful moment the winning run was scored in that historic final of the 1996 Wills World Cup, will forever be etched in the memories of every Sri Lankan privileged to have seen or heard that landmark game, a history is filled with the stories of those that came before us to lead us to just that achievement.
Today, I am privileged to lead Sri Lanka Cricket in celebrating her platinum anniversary, just as 20 years ago I was at the helm when we celebrated our 50th.
And what more fitting way to celebrate this great occasion than with the felicitation of some great men who have paved the way for cricket globally.
So as we take a walk down memory lane this evening, I invite you all to absorb the inspiration of the legacies that surround us, and enjoy the celebration of cricket that we share in the true spirit of Nidahas.
THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY MR. AVISHEK DALMIYA AT THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF SRI LANKA CRICKET HELD IN COLOMBO ON THE 15TH MARCH, 2018
At the very outset, on behalf of my entire family, I express my sincere gratitude to Sri Lanka Cricket for this huge honour.
This book, which is a tribute to Mr. Dalmiya covers various facets of his life. It covers not only his first family, which is cricket, but also about how he was in his personal life and also a businessman.
Fortunately, I have been privy to such facets and can therefore vouch that this book is a must read, if one wishes to know a bit about the man.
I have always heard my father say that whatever little he could achieve was possible because of the support he had received from his colleagues. He used to say that be it on the field or off it, it is the team effort that gets you success.
I have also heard him say that there is no substitute to honesty, dedication and hard work. I must also admit that is a nostalgic moment for me, since the last time I had visited this beautiful country was in 1998, exactly 20 years before with my father during The 1998 Nidahas Trophy. It was called as the Singer Akai Nidahas Trophy.
While my father was the ICC President then, It is noteworthy to mention that Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala was the President of the Sri Lanka Cricket at that time as well.
Today, it is a proud privilege to be present amongst the stalwarts and great ambassadors of the game like Mr. Ehsan Mani and Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala. I have practically grown up seeing them work tirelessly for betterment of the game of cricket.
I personally think that the tenures of my father as well as that of Mr. Ehsan Mani were quite successful in terms of commercial growth as well as globalization of the game.
Also remember how Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala along with Mr. Dalmiya and Mr. Ashraful Haq worked hard for development of the Asian Bloc as the President of Asian Cricket Council.
The game was spread to various parts of Asia and several programmes were undertaken then by the Asian Cricket Council, the results of which the world can see even now.
After all, a stronger Asia meant a stronger World Cricket too as most of the revenue gets generated from this part of the world. Mr. Dalmiya may have left for heavenly abode, but it is indeed very satisfying to notice the continuing great relationship amongst the boards of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. That I believe is the real tribute to him.
Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala for the warm sentiments he had expressed during the inaugural Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave few months back.
This tribute and acknowledgement of Mr. Dalmiya’s contributions to Sri Lanka Cricket on this historic occasion of 70 years of Independence would always find a special place in our hearts.
Last but not the least, wish the Sri Lanka Cricket all the very best from the core of my heart and hope it would reach greater heights in the days ahead.
Thank you very much!
THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY MINISTER OF SPORTS HONORABLE DAYASIRI JAYASEKERA DURING THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF SRI LANKA CRICKET, HELD ON THE 15TH MARCH, 2018 IN COLOMBO.
ආයුබෝවන් and Good evening,
Your Excellency’s, Honoured guests from across the seas, Colleagues, Players of our three National teams, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to speak a few words on this special occasion in the history of Sri Lanka Cricket.
As you know, cricket was first introduced to Sri Lanka nearly two centuries ago, and became so popular among the people that the first Board of Control for Cricket was established at the same time as Sri Lanka gained independence from the British rule in 1948 – 70 years ago.
This evening is a special one on which Sri Lanka Cricket has taken the opportunity to felicitate some of the greatest contributors who have steered cricket in Sri Lanka to where it is today.
Even though Sri Lanka is a tiny island nation – it may surprise you to know that we have close to 500 schools playing cricket as part of their curriculum and cricket in these schools is administered through 25 Districts Associations under Sri Lanka Cricket.
I believe this is one of the largest cricket networks in the world.
This would not have been possible if not for the hard work of every single administrator, teacher, coach, and player who has dedicated their time, commitment and passion to this game, and as the Minister for Sport in this country, and myself being a sportsman, I am proud to be a part of this evening of felicitation.
We generally prefer to live in the present moment, but today, this evening is all about the history of cricket in Sri Lanka, and so, rather than keeping you in the present for much more time, I will return you to the formalities of the evening, wishing Sri Lanka Cricket many more years of growth, development and success.