WORLD CUP PRE-DEPARTURE MESSAGE TO TEAM:
SLC Secretary extols team on One Team, One Nation unifying slogan
– ‘Heal our hearts with some scintillating cricket’
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Secretary, Mohan de Silva, in a fervent message to the Sri Lanka cricket team reminding them that the One Team, One Nation unifying slogan mattered as never before, urged the players to rise to the occasion at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, and dish out champagne cricket to lift the country’s spirits from the wounds of the recent terrorist bomb catastrophe. Addressing the 15-member team led by Dimuth Karunaratne at the pre-departure press conference at the SLC auditorium to packed audience, he said, “Heal our hearts with some scintillating cricket for us to rejoice. Cricket is a passion transcending all barriers uniting all of us. It is a challenge to us administrators to give you all the support to do your best and play as an unit as one team. I am confident that you have the ability. My president and all of us are behind you.”
With the Sports Minister, Harin Fernando, SLC President, Shammi Silva, SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva, CEO Ashley de Silva, Head Coach, Chandika Hathurusinghe, Chairman of Selectors cum Team Manager, Asantha de Mel and Sri Lanka Captain, Dimuth Karunaratne at the head table, the charged up confab centered on Sri Lanka’s prospects at the 12th edition of cricket’s showpiece event that gets underway on May 30. Sri Lanka will take on New Zealand in their opening match on June 1 at Cardiff.
The SLC Secretary went on to state that speaking to the players and head coach and manager he found the team to be in high spirits, and was confident that they would rise up to the occasion. As Sri Lanka prepared to compete in the mega event, a silver lining in the dark clouds was the induction of former Sri Lanka captain, Kumar Sangakkara as the President of the Merleborne Cricket Club. “I wish Kumar all the very best in this endeavour and I’m confident he will uphold this position with dignity and hold the post as the custodian of cricket.”
He made special mention of the untiring efforts of the Sports Minister at all times saying, “My heartfelt appreciation to the Sports Minister for all his support. Likewise, Dimuth I would like to wish you all success and to move forward with courage inspired by your predecessors. All Sri Lankans are behind you. Lets unite as one team and nation.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister, Harin Fernando, in a passionate plea to the captain and team, observed that in what was a scaled down send off in a not as usual scenario for them to rise to the occasion as one at the world cup. “Sri Lanka, as a country is a resilient nation that never ran away from challenges. So is our cricket team. In cricket the team is always under the public scrutiny. As one country I bless the team to do well reminding of the compelling slogan, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. In 1996 when we won the world cup the country was in a similar situation. Then it was the LTTE war, and we overcame that challenge. And now it is the ISIS, and it is a similar occasion for our team to be resilient and surmount all challenges by winning the world cup. Then it was Arjuna Ranatunga who led the team, and now it is Dimuth Karunaratne. What we can do is to support the team.” The minister praised SLC’s efforts in fronting the current situation, and wished the cricket administration well in its future efforts.
Head Coach Chandika Hathurusinghe expressed confidence that the team would gel at the right time with the acclimatizing process having begun. “I believe there is the right balance in this squad to go forward in the tournament. We have four matches to acclimatize and eight days to practice. We have some options how to go forward,” he echoed. As to the spin bowling department, much reliance was being placed on Dhananjaya de Silva who had proved his prowess from the South Africa ODI tour up to the recent major domestic tournament as a consistent wicket taker. His all-round potential therein should be a key factor.
Chief Selector Asantha de Mel expressed the confidence that he could play a pivotal coordinating role as the team manager and he really appreciated and welcomed SLC’s offer for him to serve in the knitting chore of the team.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, while noting that he would be opening the batting, however, said that in the tournament run up as the occasion demanded he was ready to possibly drop to the No.3 slot. On the captaincy, he was all confident. “In South Africa I did not have such a strong team as now. “I have found tremendous all-round support from the players. Especially the former captains. Even I had a chat with Lasith Malinga and he extended all his support while my bonding with Angelo Mathews dates back to our school days. Angelo is very supportive and has been discussing certain aspects with me.” As to the spin bowling department, much reliance was being placed on Dhananjaya de Silva who had proved his prowess from the South Africa ODI tour up to the recent major domestic tournament as a consistent wicket taker. His all-round potential therein should be a key factor.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-