By Sidhanta Patnaik
Colombo: Dec 12, 2011
A relaxed atmosphere of informality drew most of us from the confines of our homes to the loyalty of the locality club in our childhood and forged a lifelong relationship. Though around the world the cries are of commerce having overpowered the objective, in Sri Lanka that fun- loving phenomenon is still an unmistakable component of the social ethos.
Yesterday was just another occasion for the people of this island to portray how much of an extension cricket is of their culture. It was not a premier club match, neither was it a school big match, but it was the inaugural edition of the Speaker’s Cup T20 tennis ball cricket match played between Member of Parliament XI and Minister’s XI at Torrington Ground in Colombo 7.
The star draw of the day was Sanath Jayasuriya, a ruling party MP. More than 1000 people had not gathered just to see him. They had come to have a good time and that Jayasuriya entertained them with some towering sixes and cunning display of left-arm spin was just an add on to the day’s festivity.
Percy Abeysekera, the one-man cheer leader of Sri Lanka cricket, was there doing his customary duty of waving the Sri Lankan flag, ice-cream and food stalls surrounded the playing arena, there was a jumping castle for the kids, colourful flags canvassed the ground, there was a giant screen set up and there were vibrant canopies that set the carnival rolling. There were a few film personalities to add to the glamour quotient and every boundary, six and wicket were greeted with the signature IPL tune but it was the continuous music of the famous Papare live band that kept the crowd on its toe throughout the match.
It was in the spirit of the day that around 200 prisoners put up a cultural show during the mid innings break. And just when rain threatened to dampen the mood both the teams walked out amidst loud cheer to resume the proceedings of the second innings. After all wet ground and heavy shower could only make the party more vivid.
In the end Jayasuriya’s Member of Parliament XI beat Susil Premajayantha’s Minister’s XI comprehensively but the result was just one of the reasons for the crowd to come for the match, it was about enjoying a day out and what a good time they had!
(Sidhanta Patnaik is a sports marketing professional, public speaker and part time writer. His twitter id is @sidhpat)