Cricket stars pay homage to Anura Ranasinghe
A galaxy of former and present Sri Lanka Test and One-day
International cricketers will line up at the R. Premadasa International
Stadium today to pay homage to the late Nalanda and Sri Lanka cricketer
Anura Ranasinghe in a day-night cricket encounter between the two
leading Buddhist institutions Ananda and Nalanda.
The fact that virtually all the top cricketers produced by these two
schools have agreed to break away from their busy schedules and make
themselves available to play in this 40-overs a side encounter bears
testimony to the character of Ranasinghe.
Two past Nalandians Asanka Gurusinha who appeared for the country in
41 Tests and 147 ODIs and Keerthi Ranasinghe who played in four ODIs are
flying across from Australia and England respectively to play in this
match which is further evidence of what Ranasinghe stood for.
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has agreed to lead the
Ananda team despite his official duties as Deputy Minister of Tourism.
He was the very epitome of a modern day Keith Miller, fearless and a
fighter to the core. His never-say-die attitude is what drew so many
cricketers and friends around him.
That Ranasinghe was lost to Sri Lanka cricket after just a handful of
appearances (2 Tests and 9 ODIs) was due to the poor financial situation
that prevailed at the time where the players received only a pittance
compared to what they get at present.
The situation forced him to seek greener pastures, but instead of
going to a country that his Cricket Board would have been comfortable
with, Ranasinghe took the wrong turn and went to South Africa, which was
at that time banned from international cricket because of their
In that period it was anathema for any sports team to tour South
Africa. The repercussions were so harsh for teams defying the bans that
were imposed on them virtually meant the end of the road for any
Ranasinghe who was then 26 and at the prime of his career found the
25-year-ban imposed by the Sri Lanka Cricket Board too harsh and his
life simply disintegrated from there onwards. Cricket was his life and
for Ranasinghe there was no life without cricket. He passed away at the
prime of his life four days before his 42nd birthday on October 9.
It was a pity that the best years of his cricket was confined to the
schools and under 19 level. Those who were fortunate enough to have seen
him in his formative years saw the emergence of an all-rounder of
immense potential. But his career was oh, so brief in the international
sphere and cricket was the ultimate loser.
They say the good die young. So it was with Ranasinghe. At today's
match the two schools will also pay respect to three other former
stalwarts who shaped Nalanda cricket, Gerry Gunaratne, Sunil Jayasinghe
and Roshan Guneratne.
The match will be telecast live by Rupavahini's Eye Channel and live
commentaries will be broadcast by SLBC. The event is organised by the
Nalanda Junior Old Boys' Association jointly with the Past Cricketers'
Tickets priced at Rs. 2,500 have already been sold out according to
the organisers. Still available are tickets priced at Rs. 350 (for
family of five), Rs. 300 and Rs. 50. All proceeds are towards the
Nalanda College gymnasium project with part of it going to the family of
ANANDA (from): Arjuna Ranatunga, captain (93 Tests/269 ODIs),
Sidath Wettimuny (23/35), Ajith de Silva (4/6), Brendon Kuruppu (4/54),
Marvan Atapattu (85/231), Chandika Hathurusingha (26/35), Sanjeewa
Ranatunga (9/13), Avishka Gunawardena (4/60), Dinuk Hettiaratchi (1/0),
Tilan Samaraweera (30/15), Thilan Wijesinghe, Oshadi Weerasinghe,
Nishantha Ranatunga (0/2), Hemantha Wickremaratne (0/3), Akalanka
Ganegama (0/2), Thilina Kandamby (0/4), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara.
NALANDA (from): Bandula Warnapura, captain (4 Tests/12 ODIs),
Lalith Kaluperuma (2/4), Roshan Mahanama (52/213), Asanka Gurusinha
(41/147), Gamini Wickremasinghe (3/4), Kumara Dharmasena (31/141),
Mahela Jayawardene (71/184), Shantha Kalavitigoda (1/0), Jayantha
Seneviratne, Hemantha Devapriya, Keerthi Ranasinghe (0/4), Susantha
Karunanayake, Sudharman de Silva, Ishara Amerasinghe, Shammi Silva.
UMPIRES: Asoka de Silva and Ranmore Martinesz, TV umpire: