Sri Lanka Army Cricket Hero
A life in the army equips a person to succeed in the battlefield. It gives you a mission:a goal to achieve, provides you with self-discipline:sense of rightness and self-control , and teaches strategy:your game plan to achieve your mission. This story is a dedication to one of Sri Lankan Army proud son.
It took nearly 9 years, more than 4000 first class runs, 12 centuries in the first class game for the selectors to finally recognise the 31 year old all-rounder playing for the Army sports club. Though against the lowly ranked Zimbabwe, a debut test fifty and a century in his second test showed what the army man was capable of. Tougher tests were to come.
The battles he was to face were against the Proteas and the Kangaroos in enemy territory, in Sri Lankan cricketing terms, our hardest battles. Wikipedia says he is ranked as a bombardier (equivalent to corporal)in the artillery regiment, he may have been in the war front battling against the enemy in a battle of life and death. Fortunately in cricket battles what ever the outcome is, you get to live another day.
Starting off slowly against the proteas it took him till the last outing to demonstrate his skills, making his ODI century in a lost cause, but as any soldier fighting till the end, the last 5o coming coming out of 20 odd deliveries, not brutal or beautiful but effective, picking the gaps and seizing the opportunity to attack .
First T20 against the Aussies, Sri Lanka are chasing an achievable target comes to the crease with two down but a good foundation laid, his role is to carry the team to victory playing with discipline and strategy, working the singles, sizing the opposition identifying who and when to attack, takes the team nearly home with his maiden T20 fifty. With victory in sight he comes down the wicket for a reckless reverse sweep and is stumped and giving the opposition a sniff of victory. Thankfully for him this was not when in army duty where the consequences would have been far greater.
Second T20 with the team nearly 5 down for 40 the army man is joined by his partner who saved him blushes in the previous game by cracking a boundary in the last ball, a talented cricketer ,surely who’s career would have taken a different trajectory if had got the discipline by serving in the Army. Playing his usual game each run is ticked off another fifty and the target is within striking distance but only few deliveries left. In T20 cricket this is the end game, this is where heroes are made and battles are won, this is what you play for. 36 runs 12 deliveries left, now or never, three consecutive sixes and a boundary 22 runs from the over. It’s a one man army on the rampage.
14 off the last over, first ball a wicket gone, followed by a boundary and six, the Army man is made off steel, he is at the enemy gate carrying his nations dreams. This is where all the years of discipline and training, hardships comes into play ,2 runs required of the last ball, he backs away to the legside and hammers it over covers for a boundary!
Asela Guneratne had single handedly scripted one of his beautiful islands famous victories. Sri Lankan's can rejoice a victory with a sense of freedom due to the bravery and sacrifices of our hero’s in the war front. Today it was the turn of the Army hero to do it in the cricketing front.