Thursday, May 03, 2007

Warm Welcome Home for the National Cricket Team

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"Before this battle is done, even a god king can bleed"
- quote from "300" the movie

I remembered this quote today when I tried to recall Sri Lankan Cricket teams feat at the World Cup. Some people thought of Aussie team as an invincible unit. Although they have been the most dominant team of all times they surely are beatable. Everyone watching the game felt that, when Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were going at Aussies before the officials claimed "mornie utulie" (darkness has come :) Anyway todays post is about the welcome home the Sri Lankan team received today.

"I've taken my bows and my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all but
It's been no bed of roses - no pleasure cruise
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race and
I ain't gonna lose

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the Champions my friends....
And we'll keep on fighting till the end"
- quote from "We are the Champions" a song by Queen

Today morning the Sri Lnakan Cricket team arrived the island only to be surprised by the reception they would receive. They might not have expected such a warm welcome having reached only the runners up spot in the World Cup 2007.

The team was received with the red carpet at the Katunayake International Airport with traditional "mangul bera" even in the rain. They gave brief interviews to the media at the VIP area. All mentioned the teams gratitude to the Sri Lankan cricket fans for their support and enormous belief in them. They also thanked the cricket fans through out the world (especially from Caribbean, Indian, and other cricketing countries). One special thing to notice during the day was, different media and personnel requesting Sanath to play till the 2011 World Cup, to which he smiled and shook his head disapprovingly (but we hope that he'd stay).

They were scheduled for a grand state honored welcome at the Independence Square in Colombo, but ironically the rain had the final saying again. The ceremony was re-located to the Sri Lankan Cricket head office due to the very heavy raining.

They received welcome from thousands of the public awaiting by the roads from Katunayake to Colombo, despite the pouring rain. The team members (including the coach Tom, assistant coach Trevor, trainer CJ, physio Tommy, manger Michael and others) were seen waving and hand shaking from the bus.

They again received a grand welcome at the ceremony. There the captain Mahela spoke a few words representing the whole team. And several others made speeches. Most notable ones were of the Minister of Sports and the Chief Minister of Western Province. Eventhough everyone want sports kept away from politicians, what they said was agreeable this time :)

CMoWP (as a government representative for the occasion) said that the team achieved something which no president, prime minister or politician could ever achieve; the good name of the country. The team was popular for their sportsmanship, discipline and Sri Lankan style of Cricket in Caribbeans. And the MoS said that we only lacked the cup itself. The country considers our boys the champions, our champions!

Cricket has been the common religion of Sri Lanka and it remains so. Cricket has been the beacon of hope for Sri Lankans who are spending a not so luxurious life. It will remain so until there are people to love the game. May this blog post be a tribute to Sri Lankan Cricket (including the past and present players and fans).

PS: I didn't want to ruin the ending of my post. But I have to admit no Sri Lankan is thankful for the way Arjuna Ranathunga, the former cricket captain (who was the captain of 1996 world cup winning team) acted and commented during the past few weeks. He stated that India was going to win the World Cup. No offense to India (who in fact was a very strong team), but was it the appropriate way for a former captain to send off the national team to the World Cup, especially when they were doing so well? There's an even bad rumor that Arjuna verbally assaulted two of the most promising new players and called the Sri Lankan cricketers "hungers" in an TV show. If this is true it will be so bad even the fact that he lead the world cup victory will not compensate. We all know what guts Arjuna has (just imagine,... calling Aussies premier bowler "over-rated" before a world cup final and go with the bat to prove it), but if these rumors are true...... ?! Some people in SL have gone far enough to claim that Arjuna doesn't like to share the glory. I don't know about these allegations or rumors. So I'll just leave the time to reveal things.

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