Mellawa’s book in that sense is unique because he does not delve on cricket usually as others do. His book is all about a cricket book written for the fans by a fan.
In an age where computer technology is fast reducing the print industry to near extinction and newspapers are finding it extremely difficult to keep pace with internet and what have you, bringing out a book in print is certainly a challenging task.
Many questions will run through your mind whether the effort is worth it and how many people of the younger generation would want to purchase a book which to them is bulky and cumbersome to carry around when you can download and read it on your app or smart phone.
But despite the challenges that lie ahead there are people who still believe that a book in print is still a priceless treasure and should adore the shelves of every home. In that context ‘Winds Behind The Willows’ written by Ranjan Mellawa is certainly a welcome addition to the growing list of cricket publications that seem to come out every year.
Seldom does a Sri Lankan take to writing a book especially one on cricket because literatures of that kind are never best sellers in this country. Only a few would purchase copies while the rest of the printed copies will remain on the booksellers’ shelves unsold. Mellawa’s book in that sense is unique because he does not delve on cricket usually as others do. His book is all about a cricket book written for the fans by a fan. It is a collective experience of five decades of watching cricket in 11 countries and that includes six World Cup finals.
“I was incredibly blessed to be at the grounds to witness nearly all epic moments in Sri Lankan cricket, in 11 countries. Those include winning the Asia Cup, Champions Trophy, and a World Cup, that’s 50-overs, a World T20 title and four other World Cup finals. In between matches, there were some unforgettable experiences. So, I thought it is nothing but fair to share those with other fans,” said Mellawa whose name will not be familiar to many who follow cricket.
Mellawa, a cricket crazy enthusiast was secretary of Ragama CC for seven years and that experience enabled him to relate a hitherto unpublished, first-hand account of the country’s chaotic latter-day cricket administration. It follows an insight into the island nation’s pre-Test cricket days as well.
There are other reasons also. For a long time, I have hardly seen anything that highlights the step-motherly way the fans are treated, though they are the ones who spend money and sustain the game.
Mellawa was a banker by profession and had a 25-year career and also possesses a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Western Sydney.
The author says that he was inspired to writing the book by reading former England captain Michael Atherton’s autobiography ‘Opening Up’.
“In a way, it was sort of a model for my memoir Winds Behind The Willow,” Mellawa said. “It’s my first book and it contains 16 chapters mostly related to the experiences of watching major cricket tournaments around the world.
“There are other reasons also. For a long time, I have hardly seen anything that highlights the step-motherly way the fans are treated, though they are the ones who spend money and sustain the game. Then, there were many happenings most present-day fans aren’t aware of. But recounting episodes as they actually happened and conveying that accurately, was quite a challenge,” he said.
Mellawa admits writing the book was ‘tough’. “You need to have a strong will and belief in yourself. I have spent 3 years but about 10,000 hours in those 3 years to produce the book. I hope all cricket fans will check out ‘Winds Behind The Willows’ because it was written with them in mind.”
The 464-page book containing 40 colour photographs was officially launched at the BMICH on Friday in the presence of a very distinguished gathering that included former Sri Lanka cricketers and administrators like Michael Tissera, Chandra Schaffter, Kushil Gunasekera and Roshan Mahanama who in his Foreword message describes the book as a “readers delight” and goes on to state “I wouldn’t be surprised if it does become a bestseller.”
(Sa’adi Thawfeeq, the only Sri Lankan journalist to have covered over 100 Test matches, in nearly 40 years, is the sports editor of the “Daily News” and “Sunday Observer” newspapers in Sri Lanka.)