Honoured to be Recognised on Home Turf

Winds Behind The Willows” was shortlisted for an award at the prestigious State Literary Awards 2018, Sri Lanka

The State Literary Awards 2018 was held on 11th September with the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena, to honour those Sri Lankans who enriched literature in all three languages in 2017. First held in 1957, this year marks the 61st anniversary of this prestigious event, a fact not equalled anywhere globally.

Over 2,000 submissions of creative, academic and research work published in 2017, in Sinhala, Tamil and English were vying for recognition.

An interwoven tapestry of cricket fandom, “Winds Behind The Willows” was honoured by being among the three books shortlisted for the award in its designated category.

This year’s awards ceremony was organised by the State Literary Advisory Board, Arts Council of Sri Lanka, Cultural Affairs Department, and Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Ministry.

A Cricket Tragic’s Magnum Opus – An Incidental History of the Sport in Sri Lanka

Winds Behind the Willow review at cricketweb.net

Books about Sri Lankan cricket are rare, and any addition to the small number there are is to be welcomed. It is remarkable, for example, that no proper history of the game has been written for a country where cricket has been played since at least 1805, when a match at a British garrison is recorded as having taken place. Contrast that with New Zealand and South Africa, two countries where the game is not recorded until after that date, but both of which are well served by histories.

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Passion and First-hand Knowledge

Review of Winds Behind the Willows at goodreads

First things first, I am an oddball, an Indian but dyed in the wool Sri Lanka cricket fan since I started watching cricket (1996 WC). Of late that has led to significantly more heartburn and heartbreak than I would like.

The last book on SL cricket that I had read was a brilliant work of fiction, The Chinaman, I was very keen on a non-fiction now especially from a SL fan’s perspective. As an Indian who has spent his life in India and the US with very few SL friends and fans this was a much awaited moment to connect with the brothers (and sisters) from another cricketing mother.

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Passion Out In The Field

Passion out in the field, a review of Winds Behind the Willows by Sachitra MahendraThose mini teams that alternated between batting out in the field used to be common sight. But now that scene is slowly shifting into oblivion thanks to the palm-held devices and a busier generation. And like everything else, cricket is also losing its grip in a country where it meant everything to its nation.

Winds Behind The Willows - A Sri Lankan's life in love with cricke

But the scribes have not given up their passions on cricket. Shehan Karunatilaka penned a voluminous novel based on a cricket legend and bagged quite a few awards. The fresh addition to the field is Ranjan Mellawa who is a Business Consultant.

A passionate – or even obsessively, you can safely assert - follower of cricket, Ranjan has been witness to almost all the key moments of the Sri Lankan edition of the game. Next to Australia’s eight, Sri Lanka had featured in six cricket World Cup finals so far, in ODI’s and 20/20 competitions. Ranjan was the lucky audience to all six finals. This, any cricket fan would covet in a lifetime. Plus, he has held the secretary position of a Sri Lankan cricket club of note.

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An ‘Oscar’ for Winds Behind The Willows

Receiving the ‘SPORTS PUBLICATION & AUTHOR OF THE YEAR’ award from the Minister of Sports, Dayasiri Jayasekara at SILK Sports Awards 2017, Sri Lanka.

For the third consecutive year, the annual ‘SILK Sports Awards 2017’ organised by sportsinfo.lk, Sri Lanka’s premier sports promotion network, and sponsored by Sri Lanka Telecom was held on 28 November 2017 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, Sri Lanka. It is recognised as Sri Lanka’s first annual sports awards ceremony for sporting excellence and contribution, with the objective of appreciating those who contributed to sports in numerous ways in the past years, including the greats of the game and those unsung heroes behind the scenes.

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An Outsider’s Inside View of Sri Lankan Cricket

An outsider's inside view of Sri Lankan cricket. A book review of Winds Behind the Willows by Andrew Fidel Fernando.

First, allow me to lay out a bias: I was probably always going to like this one.

Sri Lanka does not, alas, produce a wealth of cricket books. Where Ben Stokes already has a hardcover in circulation, Muttiah Muralitharan is yet to flog a 400-page grievance – the likes of which has recently become the prerogative of so many retired cricketers. (And of endured hardships, who could possibly have a greater store than Murali?)

A cricket book out of Sri Lanka is rare enough, but with Winds Behind the Willows, Ranjan Mellawa has produced something truly unique: memoirs of a lifelong fan. There are no tiffs with former captains, or gripes about selectors here. Here are rough-and-ready touring tales from six global tournaments, and many Tests besides. Here is a bird’s eye view of Sri Lankan cricket’s many tumbling transformations in Mellawa’s five decades of following cricket.

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An Excellent Portrayal of Cricket’s Roving Fandom

 

Winds behind the Willows: An excellent portrayal of cricket's roving fandom

The greatest lovers of cricket and the connoisseurs of the game are not necessarily the greatest cricketers. Most often we find that the true lovers of the game are those who have played a reasonable amount of cricket but have never attained the great heights to which the great cricketers have. Ranjan Mellawa is one of them, and like me, he started his cricketing career in his father’s coconut grove, but unlike me, his fellow cricketers were his brothers and his friends. Mine were my sisters and my maids.

Playing with the rubber ball and the bat was how most of us started our cricket in Sri Lanka, and Ranjan weaves an interesting tale not only of his own beginnings but also of the beginnings of the game in England, Sri Lanka and how it has spread the world over. Particularly, he talks of how Sri Lanka itself matured over the years, and after a long struggle, gained international status and subsequently built on it to achieve greater heights, by winning the World Cup in 1996.

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‘Fans Deserve a Better Deal’ – Views of a Random Follower

A stadium with a seating capacity of 33,000 is sold out when only 4,000 tickets have been allocated and sold.

Colombo,  21st August 2017

My dear Ranjan

Just finished reading your book Winds Behind the Willows.

I am no fan of cricket except when Aunty Sita pushed me into watching TV whenever Sri Lanka was playing. She was a devoted fan – who would shut the TV down when Sri Lanka is doomed to lose. She would also watch the international finals so long as the Australians were not winning; from their lip movements, she said that they were very crude in the swear words.

I know very little of the game of cricket as I hardly ever played it after a cussed boy hit me on the forehead with a leather ball I was facing. I was then 15 years. I thereafter took to tennis, badminton, table tennis, swimming & rowing.

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Winners don’t do different things but they do things differently!

Mahela Jayawardena of Sri Lanka achieves cricket history.

Mahela Jayawardena (Sri Lanka) celebrates his century on the fourth day of the first Test against England on 14 May 2006 at Lord’s. (Photo by Patrick Eagar / Patrick Eagar Collection / Getty Images) Mahela Jayawardena achieved twice what many legends never managed once: a lasting place in the history of The Home – the Lord’s Honours Board. (Courtesy MCC)

Ranjan’s different type of book on cricketing stories, titled ‘Winds Behind The Willows: A Sri Lankan’s Life in Love with Cricket’ amply portrays his passion and love for the game. In my view, his effort gives in-depth analysis of the matches he had witnessed, that are so precise that the reader is engrossed and enlightened in a delightful way.

Winds Behind The Willows is an interesting book...for everyone who wishes to enhance knowledge Click To Tweet

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