Save the Blushes, Please

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup on 22 February 2015 at the picturesque University Oval, Dunedin, New Zealand. (© Ranjan Mellawa)


Ranjan Mellawa thinks it’s not all doom and gloom for Sri Lanka, and they can still make a good fist of the next World Cup.

 

 

In an all-time low, Sri Lanka capitulated to Afghanistan by 91 runs in the Asia Cup 2018. Angelo Mathews, already tipped to lead in the forthcoming World Cup, was axed from both captaincy and the one-day squad.

Previously, Sri Lanka had played Afghanistan in the 2015 World Cup. Lethargic fielding by the Sri Lankans helped Afghanistan post 232 runs.

The first ball of the Sri Lanka innings, trapped Thirimanna lbw. Next over, Dilshan edged a back-of-a-length delivery and was caught behind for no score. Sri Lanka were tottering at 2 for 2 after 1.2 overs. It was only the second time in ODIs that both openers were dismissed for first-ball ducks.

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So Near…

Sri Lanka and Afghanistan teams walking into the ground for the national anthems prior to their match in the 2015 Cricket World Cup

Ranjan Mellawa believes that injury prevention and management, along with the quality of bench strength would be critical success factors at the next World Cup.

 

 

Mahela Jayawardena’s masterpiece (103*) gave Sri Lanka a commanding total of 274 for 6 in the 2011 World Cup final. Never before had a Jayawardena century led to a losing cause for Sri Lanka.

The 275 target looked imposing for India. No team batting second had scored more than 250 runs under lights at Wankhede Stadium. Sri Lanka’s varied bowling attack seemed geared to defend the highest run chase in a World Cup final.

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Mind Over Matter

Ranjan Mellawa anticipates most teams to be on par at the next World Cup

In the group stage at the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka scored an imposing 268 after a magnificent 124 (129 balls) by Marvan Atapattu, solidly supported by Aravinda de Silva’s 73 (78).

Having lost their sixth wicket at 212, South Africa needed 57 off 45. With rain falling steadily, it was all but certain that the method used to decide weather affected matches – Duckworth Lewis, would come into play at any moment. At the end of the 44th over with the score at 216, the South African dressing room relayed a message to Mark Boucher in the middle – a win needed 229 by end of the 45th, assuming no further wickets fell.

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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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Can Sri Lanka rise from the ashes?

Ranjan Mellawa believes that Sri Lanka can rise from the ashes

The year in which Sri Lanka was reeling from bomb blasts and bloody battles was also a watershed in the history of the island’s sporting career. An improbable Cricket World Cup victory in 1996 was an unlikely balm for all Sri Lanka’s wounds – and fittingly, the islanders celebrated together.

Paradoxically, the rise to the top in the cricketing field triggered an avalanche of politicos, businessmen, and sundry others in committee rooms who began competing for honorary positions to administer the game on behalf of the nation.

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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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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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Toga: The Tireless and Triumphant Twirler

Rangana Herath of Sri Lanka celebrates with teammates after dismissing Trent Boult of New Zealand.

An immaculate spell that earned Sri Lanka their sixth straight semi-final spot in ICC events: Rangana Herath of Sri Lanka with the astonishing figures of 5 wickets for 3 runs celebrates with teammates after dismissing Trent Boult of New Zealand. Sri Lanka successfully defended their meagre total of 119 on 31 March 2014 in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

On yet another wet, slippery and gloomy early summer day in England, two Sri Lankans were heading to Heathrow Airport. The owner-driver, a UK resident, picked up his mild-mannered, chubby-looking passenger, from Stoke-on-Trent in the northern country. Even at the end of a five-hour journey, they barely knew each other, save for their names and what they did for a living. This of course, is not a typical taxi-driver-and-passenger story. The wheelman was doing a favour to a friend. His unknown passenger in the shotgun seat, having received ‘summons’ from a cricketing heavyweight in Sri Lanka an hour before, was in a hurry to catch a flight to Colombo, departing in seven hours’ time. Feeling nervous to perform once again on the biggest stage, the passenger’s thoughts wandered around his childhood dreams. Never a bragger, he was focused, conserving all his energy for the forthcoming event.

Closer to the airport, the driver’s patience ran out. In Sinhala, he asked, ‘Malli (younger brother), up to what level of cricket have you played?’

Politely the passenger replied,

‘Test cricket.’

He being an ordinary fan and not an aficionado, was left speechless. In retrospect, it was hard to remember someone who had played only 14 Tests across nine years.

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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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