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Lanka-Aussies cricket relations strong as ever, says CA chairman

By Sa'adi Thawfeeq

Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman said that cricket relationship between Australia and Sri Lanka remained as strong as ever.

Speaking at the official banquet hosted by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to felicitate the touring Australian team at Colombo Plaza on Sunday evening, Merriman further said that it was 90 years ago in 1914 that an Australian side led by Rev. E.F. Waddy was defeated by an All Ceylon team at the NCC grounds.

He said that Australia played an important role in the admittance of Sri Lanka as full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1981 and that Sri Lanka also had two Australian coaches for the national team in Dav Whatmore and John Dyson. In 1996 Australia were defeated once again by Sri Lanka in the World Cup final and again in 2002 in the mini-World Cup semi-final.

"We had a lot to answer for those defeats. Now it's our turn to put the record straight. Never underestimate Sri Lanka and Australia at cricket," said Merriman addressing a large gathering of distinguished personalities and members of Sri Lanka and Australian cricket teams.

"It is unique to have two bowlers reaching the 500-wicket mark in one and the same series," he said referring to Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Warne reached 500 wickets in the first Test at Galle and was followed by Muralitharan in the second Test at Kandy.

Both bowlers were felicitated and presented with mementoes to mark their achievements. Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist, who spoke on Warne and SLC CEO Duleep Mendis, who spoke on Muralitharan, paid tributes to the two cricketers.

SLC secretary and presidential nominee Mohan de Silva said that SLC was sailing rough seas engulfed with legal issues such as the WSG who are demanding US$ 6 million. "We have been able to weather the storm due to a dynamic team," he said.

Trevor Rajaratnam, the SLC assistant treasurer, read out a message from SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala extending a warm welcome to the Australian team.

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