Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

The win they waited 18 years for

More power to Sri Lanka, whose cricketers have again reinforced what the game means to their nation

Mark Nicholas

April 10, 2014

Comments: 84 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka are drinking from the cup of big-stage success again © AFP

Cross the railway line from Station Road in Wellawatta on the fringe of the city of Colombo, head for the Indian Ocean and you should stumble upon Beach Wadiya, the most authentic seafood restaurant in town. It is a sand-in-your-toes sort of place, where the chilli crab is a standout and the wine list a gamble. It was here, in the mid-February of 1996, that Arjuna Ranatunga clearly explained how Sri Lanka could, and probably would, in his view, win the World Cup. The third at our ravenous table was Dav Whatmore, the Sri Lankan-born Australian coach of a talented Sri Lanka team rated a decent outside bet in the tournament that India and Australia were favourites to win.

We were dining after another day of inertia. The LTTE threat had led both West Indies and the Australians to withdraw from their group matches in Sri Lanka and forfeit the points. Consequently, Sri Lanka qualified for the quarter-finals by winning three of their five scheduled matches. One of these was against India, who they were to beat again after a controversial finish to the one-sided semi-final in front of 100,000 people in Kolkata.

There was a withering confidence about Ranatunga. He knew the strength of his team's batting and how best to set it free. Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana took galloping advantage of the first 15 overs - the one severe period of field restrictions in those days. The street-smart middle order, with Asanka Gurusinha, Aravinda de Silva and Ranatunga himself the key figures, controlled the rest of the innings every bit as effectively as the limited bowling attack controlled their emotions and limitations. At its core were four spinners who bowled their overs cleverly and quickly. Ranatunga had seen into the future. On the pitches of the subcontinent the opposition's new ball had to be attacked, while your own ball needed to go soft quickly, after which the best way to use it was to take all the pace off it.

In the dressing room after the final against Mark Taylor's excellent Australian side - a game won at a canter, incidentally - Ranatunga smiled and pretty much said I told you so. In contrast, the unbridled joy of his men was something to behold. This charming little island, bedevilled by a monstrous civil war, had found cricketers with the strength and nous to conquer all. Cricket was their common love, the evidence was everywhere - in streets and parks, on fields and beaches - and now it was their identity.

It has taken another 18 years to remind us just what a monumental achievement it is for Sri Lanka to win a global event. The ghastliness of war had been almost dwarfed by a natural disaster that ripped the guts from the island: the guts but not the soul, never the Sri Lankan soul. The cricketers played on and have been close, oh so close, on numerous occasions, but not quite able to taste again the sweetness of tournament success.

Fittingly, it was Sangakkara who was at the wicket to guide Sri Lanka over the line. This was a super-cool innings from one so pumped, nay desperate, to justify the people's faith

How delicious that the world's most unorthodox bowler should have been the one to provide a series of killer blows before lifting the long-yearned-for trophy himself. Ranatunga and Lasith Malinga could hardly be more different men but they both feed from an unwavering self-belief and references to the original and unorthodox. It is well documented that Malinga stole the show with his overs at the death (double entendre there) of the Indian innings in Sunday's World T20 final. Those yorkers, delivered with his arm at about 45 degrees and released from in front of the umpire's nose, were the stuff of genius, for they create a unique angle when fired across the stumps and out towards first slip. Neither are they predictable for the inswinger lies in waiting, along with slower balls of various styles and lengths. Of all "death" bowlers only Joel Garner and Wasim Akram can have caused such confusion.

But there can be no celebration of Malinga without raising a glass to Nuwan Kulasekara at the same time. Rarely can there have been a cricketer of such innocent promise and yet such mighty impact. We have seen him nip out the best with a new ball in conditions far and wide, tie up ends while others did their worst, slog sixes when others failed with their best. And the other night we watched him play perfect straight man to Malinga's colourful expression. In two groups of four overs during the Indian innings the match was won and lost. First poor Yuvraj Singh got the yips - even against Sachithra Senanayake, a man he might previously have swiped to the Punjab and back - and then two "little Sri Laankans", as Tony Greig loved to call them, closed the deal. How Greigy would have led the cheers!

Andrew Fidel Fernando pointed out in these pages that this was a victory for a united Sri Lanka, and the street parties were shared by people of all backgrounds and beliefs. I am a sucker for MS Dhoni, and for Virat Kohli, for that matter, but watching Sri Lanka steal their show was utterly compelling and rewarding. The occasion was given the relevance it deserved by a fine television production and a collection of commentators who paid due attention to the achievement. Too often, Sri Lankan cricket is marginalised by the insanity of its internal affairs. Thank goodness, as Fernando said in another column, the players play for the public.

The only sadness in the whole thing was that Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have begun their goodbyes. The former has a sublime talent and rates with anyone, from any era, when aesthetic appeal is the benchmark. He played one stroke on Sunday, the latest of cuts, that drew a gasp of breath. Yes, Jayawardene has a little magic about him. At his best, the viewer is taken into a trance. Think David Gower and Mark Waugh as others once able to do the same.

As for Sangakkara, what is left to say? Alongside Muttiah Muralitharan, he is Sri Lanka's greatest cricketer. That mind, the various skills, the dignity, patience, fitness and longevity know no boundaries. Kumar seems to speak for his country: "Listen up, for we are a formidable people. We have talent and we have courage. We are not to be bullied and we shall continue to prove our place amongst you." Fittingly, it was Sangakkara who was at the wicket to guide Sri Lanka over the line. This was a super-cool innings from one so pumped, nay desperate, to justify the people's faith.

What a man. What a country. What a triumph.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by gularan on (April 14, 2014, 23:55 GMT)

Hey Mark ,Glad you mentioned the Beach Wadiya on the Wellawatta sea shore as this is one of my favourite haunts when in SL - and the chilli crab is second to none especially with a glass of VSOA in one hand with the sound of the waves breaking on the surf nearby- It's as close to nibbana as you'll ever get. Thanks for the article Mark- very well written and authentic to boot.

Posted by gularan on (April 14, 2014, 23:42 GMT)

Hi Mark, It is fitting that you mention Tony Greig in the same breath as a SL world cup win because Tony would have really really enjoyed this game and more so the subtle plans and nuances associated with the way the final was won.May god give eternal rest to his soul -the worthy being. And more strength to you too Mark as SL now identify you as the one unprejudiced TV presenter on the otherwise tainted Channel 9 commentary team. Thanks for carrying on from where Tony left.

Posted by SLMaster on (April 14, 2014, 15:51 GMT)

SL had duo's turning the tables for SL cricket: Dulip Mendis & Roy Dias; Aravinda & Arjuna; Murali & Vaas; Sanga & Mahela; Jayasuriya & Malinga ( different era).

Posted by   on (April 12, 2014, 20:31 GMT)

Super article.

Posted by SLfan on (April 12, 2014, 7:42 GMT)

I always love to watch cricket matches in Channel 9, because of awesome commentators they have. It gives a wonderfull experience for fans as their commentory style is unique and exactly suits the atmosphere in the ground. Although I knew that Mark is an unbiased and great commentator, I never thought that he is this much capable of writing wonderful articles....Hats off Mr. Mark Nicholas !

Posted by   on (April 12, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

In 1985 Aravinda was a 21year old player who does n't care the bowlers he was nicknamed as Madmax. Even that period Sri lankan cricket was in baby stage. you cannot predict how will be your life after the cricketing career .He just played for fun and make crowd cheer. You can't just compare the stats without considering time & situation. Ara was talented student in poor school & Sanga was an good student in a rich education.

Posted by MAW71 on (April 11, 2014, 18:34 GMT)

Chanaka De Silva, Aravinda Silva was one of the best batsmen Sri Lanka has ever produced. I rate Sanga in the same level as Aravinda because Sanga too has played many match saving innings. Like Aravinda did Sanga and Mahela have been carrying the weight of Sri Lankan batting on their shoulders. Sanga may have scored well against minnows but that doesn't mean he is not good against better teams. He has scored well against better teams as well. You say you can't recall a similar match winning performance by Sanga in a major event. Well, Aravinda just had two match winning performances in a Major event, 1196 semi finals and finals.

Posted by Zetta on (April 11, 2014, 16:00 GMT)

I'm Bulgarian. Cricket isn't popular in my country at all. In fact, only few people know what cricket is, how it's played, what a wicket is, etcetera and when I tell someone that I watch cricket, he mistakes in for croquet. Well then, how did I came to love this sport, you may ask? It all started 3 or 4 years ago, I was watching TV and what do you know, a 'wild' T20 CLT20 game appears. I was like 'What's this? What's happening here? Why aren't they playing in shorts? Why is that bleached guy throwing the ball differently?'. Yup. I was watching Mumbai Indians versus Highveld Lions. I didn't know it then, but that sport was going to become a big part of my life. And it was that fellow's fault - Lasith Malinga. I started to watch games, read stuff in wikipedia, watch videos on the internet and then I started to visit Cricinfo 50 times a day. I've supported SL from the start, cheered for them when they win, feel disappointment when they lose. I watched when Dilshan got a ton in a t20 vs ..

Posted by krik8crazy on (April 11, 2014, 15:27 GMT)

Chanaka De Silva - agree with you 100%. Aravinda is the best SL batsman that I have watched.He had this ability to destroy any bowling attack. Timing, power, placement, he had it all. Pace and bounce didn't bother him and neither did spin. Even when he played against India I would want him to bat well (and India to win the game of course :) )

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 13:42 GMT)

Great article Mark Nicholas.... Truly beautiful... Bought tears to my eyes... Thank you

Posted by moBlue on (April 11, 2014, 10:00 GMT)

both mahela and sanga now - and murali then - are simply gems!!! sri lankans on here might like to know that these 3 cricketers of yours have long-time fans even in IND! :) ... despite the fact that i worship our own [fab. four + sehwag + kumble] in recent years!

i will sorely miss those 3 players of yours, no question!!! ... as i do sanath in ODIs!

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 9:58 GMT)

@Rohantha, I'm not with you. Being an ambassador is just a so called hype in modern day sport and it is the case with every sport not only cricket. Sanga is no doubt a great cricketer a batsman we have and produced. But he can't even get closer to Aravinda when it comes to winning matches singlehandedly. Sanga had the privilege to play more against minors and to fill his test run bag. Aravinda's performances are way beyond than Sanga's. That is simply because Aravinda was there for Sri Lanka when chaps were really down. He was a player who brought his best when he was out of form and chaps were really down. Sanga's T20 final match winning is just one performance. I can't recall a similar match wining performance of from Sanga like that again in a major event.

When Aravinda was there in the batting line we knew we can make it we Sri Lankans had that feeling. But for Sanga I don't think so. I have no bad feelings for him but, he was just a good player we had not a GREAT one like Ara!

Posted by tcarlos on (April 11, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

what a piece of writing.... well said mark.. hats off...thank you cricinfo for publishing this...

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

@Rohantha, I'm sorry but being an ambassador and all that is just one of those things that have been hyped up in modern day cricket, as they have in other sports; e.g. tennis. There is a huge section of people who do not buy into or care about the semantics of being an "ambassador" for the game and would venture that a cricketer speaks for himself with what he does on the field.

Sanga and Murali are two of the greatest without a doubt, but Aravinda de Silva singlehandedly put SL on the map with his performances in the two big games at the 1996 WC. He was also the key figure in Sri Lanka's dominance in ODI cricket in the two years that followed, and was the backbone of our test team for a long team. Whether he speaks at an elitist dinner or not is not even in the equation here; De Silva was the greatest cricketer SL produced.

Sangakkara will be amongst the 5 greatest cricketers from SL, but I don't think a wrold T20 win places him over De Silva. If he does win us an ODI WC, maybe.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 4:43 GMT)

MARK NOCHOLAS, CHEERS FOR THE AMAZING ARTICLE!!!!! Really a great article for a Sri LAnkan to read!!! Love this bit - "Listen up, for we are a formidable people. We have talent and we have courage. We are not to be bullied and we shall continue to prove our place amongst you." !!!! DAM STRAIGHT!!!!! We may have lost numerous FInals (6) but we beat so many of the other BIG countries with BIG Money and huge populations to get to the final in the first place!!!!!!!! Says alot about our cricket!!!!! Anyways thanks again for the great article MArk

Posted by Rohantha on (April 11, 2014, 3:53 GMT)

A fantastic piece of writing by Mark capturing the essence and imagination of the people of Sri Lanka.

For those of you who have brought in Aravinda's name, let me say this. Greatness does not come from talent and achievement alone. It is a whole lot more including being an ambassador for you team, country and for cricket in general. There is no doubt that Sanga and Murali top the list.

Just to illustrate the above point, I'll share with you that I was at the Nondescripts Cricket Club's 125th year celebratory dinner a couple of months ago where Sanga and Aravinda were the two speakers. Given the same stage it was abundantly clear to all the difference in attitude of the two men. Aravinda had not done a lot of preparatory work and was full of his career, while Sanga was as gracious as ever. This is in no way belittling the cricketing giant that is Aravinda, rather it is to point out what constitutes the word "greatness".

Posted by r.nadun on (April 11, 2014, 3:45 GMT)

"What a man, What a country, What a Article" Well done Mark nicely written.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 2:21 GMT)

What a man. What a country. What a triumph. What a grand article..

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 2:20 GMT)

A Jem of an article. Thank you Mark Nicholas. Lions are best in the World.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 2:06 GMT)

Even the current team cant beat the 96 Lankan side loved by everybody superb cricketers. SL if they get a real good captain (not sure why Mahela be the captain) they're still a very tough team...

Posted by   on (April 11, 2014, 1:43 GMT)

What a man. What a country. What a triumph.

Posted by lankaboy123 on (April 11, 2014, 0:49 GMT)

What a wonderful article..Thanks a lot Mark!!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 23:53 GMT)

Could Mark Nicholas be the new Tony Greig for Sri Lanka?

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 22:08 GMT)

Masterfully written linking 1996 and 2014 WC Finals while narrating the spirit of SL cricket! Tony G. would have been proud of this piece! nandi J in LA.

Posted by Daran_Cool on (April 10, 2014, 21:32 GMT)

Mark! You are the first overseas commentator recognized the true story of Sri Lankan Cricket after the late legend Sir Tony Greig! Tony was loved by all over the Sri Lankan Fans. After this article Mark, you have captured many Sri Lankan's HEART! Hope this article is reached millions of true cricket lovers! Thank You!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 19:23 GMT)

Thank you Mark for this well written article.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 18:33 GMT)

If SL was as developed as Australia or as Rich as India this team would have ruled the cricketing world just as Aussies did before. Sadly we did not have those resources.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 18:20 GMT)

hats off u are true gentleman...great article...

Posted by FAB_ALI on (April 10, 2014, 17:44 GMT)

This is what sports are all about. Every country gets their moments of pride and makes most of it. This is the reason fans watch and love cricket. As Indians we have had 3 such chances in last seven years and we really cherish those memories. This time it was for the lankans, and they deserved it after reaching world tournaments final 5 times in last 7 years. Lets hope South Africa and New Zealand also get their such moments in near future. And yes, India was the best team of tournament and the team to beat, that's what lankans did and are now called champs!!!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 17:37 GMT)

Wow. What an article. Thanks a lot Mark..

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 17:16 GMT)

No matter what Aravinda De Silva is the greatest batsman Sri Lanka has ever produced. No doubts on that. Arjuna and Aravinda had to built Sri Lanka cricket from scratch which was all over the place. Both had to fought long yet alone battles in middle to save and win games. Today's Sri Lanka's cricket blossoms thanks to these two giants and players of yesteryear. Current Sri Lankan cricketers have an already laid map. But this map was drew by scratch Arjuna and Aravinda. No one can deny that. Nice article Mark. But Aravinda is the best no matter what !!!!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 17:16 GMT)

Best article I've ever read

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 17:13 GMT)

Good article from Mark Nicholas on SL crcket.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 16:06 GMT)

wow...thanx mark..that's immortal. ..

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 16:04 GMT)

Mark : Hats off! what an article.. you have pretty much summarised the essence of us Sri Lankan and our cricket team. Thanks for the article.

Posted by vihnga_De_cptan on (April 10, 2014, 15:45 GMT)

Thank you Mark.A great article. Real sl cricket was began from 1996.This is the story about it. All the best Sri lanka.Go forward bravely.

Posted by vihnga_De_cptan on (April 10, 2014, 15:38 GMT)

This is a unforgetable story in Sl cricket.Thanks a lot for the article.The next genaration cricket in Sl will be building through those memories.Victory is not a result of single person's activity.Past lessons give us more advantages for achive to Sl could play in 6 icc world cup finals and win 2 times.I dont believe sl was failed in 4 times.They identitied their bad things and finaly get a great victory.We Love You Sri Lanka..

Posted by keralite on (April 10, 2014, 15:35 GMT)

SL rise in world cricket will definitely inspire the associates. For me De Silva is the best Sri Lankan batsman yet. When in full flow, his innings was like watching highlights package.

Posted by KingOwl on (April 10, 2014, 14:42 GMT)

Thank you Mark for a wonderful article. I read some nice ones from Andrew, but coming from an Englishman, it feels better! It is true. Cricket means everything to the nation. For those of us who live in far off places, it is the thing that binds us to our motherland. To me, there is absolutely nothing better than to SL win a world cup. Yes, Tony Greig would have loved it, and we miss him too.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 14:37 GMT)

Thanks Mark.. very unbiased article about our pride,.

Posted by Mr.Cricket_slLion on (April 10, 2014, 14:03 GMT)

"What a man. What a country. What a triumph" What a Phrase!!!. Thanks Marks for the Article, We Srilankans always try to be humble. The one he who elevates himself would be end up with defeat for sure. BE HUMBLE BE WINNER.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 13:05 GMT)

@skywalker1977: and to u too mate!!!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 13:04 GMT)

@ Giri Jeganathan- Kudos and salutes!!!

Posted by 07sanjeewakaru on (April 10, 2014, 13:02 GMT)

Thank you very much Mr. Nicholas.... How Greigy would have led the cheers!..Yes.. I think every SL fan would dedicate this victory pleasure in memory of Greigy..

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (April 10, 2014, 12:46 GMT)

What a wonderful article by Mark. Very few unbiased commentators in cricket nowadays especially from Aus.

Posted by PrasPunter on (April 10, 2014, 11:51 GMT)

How true the words about Sanga are !! What a class act he has been for years !! Same can be said about Mahela as well !! Congrats SL on a long-awaited world title !! Good for you !!

Posted by Skywalker1977 on (April 10, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

As an Indian fan, I am happy for Sri Lanka. They outplayed and upstaged a team that was the front runner to win the tournament.

Kudos to the Sri Lankans. May you see many more such triumphs in the future.

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 11:49 GMT)

SandeepCKD...... Ranji champions.... who cares mate..... bring them to see them beaten by ICC WORLD T20 CHAMPIONS SRI LANKA.....

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 11:28 GMT)

Lovely article Mark. Very touching. Victory of this nature is huge for a small island nation. It is very true, what you said about the Sri Lankan soul. I think Sri Lankans are the most resilient humans in the world. Keep up the good work boys and make us proud again in 2015!!!

Posted by stormy16 on (April 10, 2014, 10:26 GMT)

Enjoyed the read and yes, what a sweet victory against India it was. Here's something I read somewhere. A Son asks a Farther what is an ICC event. The response is - this is where the best cricket teams in the world compete to play SL in the final - what a ripper!!!

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

Whenever you see Finalists of World Cups(t20/odi) in last few years, you will see SL there 6 times. It was really a heart break for fans to see letting it slip when it was so near. So it was a long wait but they did it this time. And did it in style. they deserved this. by far the best side. played good cricket for 2 months or so. youngsters performed as well as seniors. a good team effort and lots of positives to take forward.

Posted by CricketMaan on (April 10, 2014, 8:46 GMT)

SL win as BIG as Windies and Pak WC wins Teams like Aus, Eng and even India have a lot more power, money and facilities that SL or Pak or Windies don't have. Beign a small nation to achieve this win is something truly special and one to behold. The advantage they have is they don't have too many players to choose from the domestic that they pick their best 15 to compete and boy they do it well! They found Kumar, Sanga and Dilly after Arjuna, Aravinda and Sanath! Where will the next legends come from? Can Mathews, Thirimane or a Kusal take over the reigns? Can Lakmal do a Malinga? Murali gone, Hearath getting old, who is the next spin sensation that we are all looking forward to see! Good luck SL from Indian fan

Posted by D-Ascendant on (April 10, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

I have been to Beach Wadiya and I strongly recommend it. All visitors to Colombo should make a beeline for that place.

Posted by Romanticstud on (April 10, 2014, 8:21 GMT)

There is a saying persistence pays ... Sri-Lanka have been up near the top of the shorter format of the game for some time now ... They were contenders in the World T20 in 2012 and the World Cup in 2011 and also in 2007 ... They have been unlucky ... In 2007, I remember watching Malinga take 4 wickets in 4 balls against South Africa ... I thought at that time Sri-Lanka would win the tournament ... Sri-Lanka have been consistently among the sides that have been in the knockouts ...

Posted by Herath-UK on (April 10, 2014, 8:16 GMT)

Sri Lanka's triumph speak volumes about the nation's pride & ability at winning things when it matters. As much as Arjuna stands tall in the 96 win it is Malinga this time around. His appointment as the captain was a master stroke, credit to the much maligned selectors and wasn't it poetic justice to get to beat India in the final. To stand shoulder to shoulder with Dhoni at the very important final toss was a psychological win itself & as the captain Malinga led from the front & no way others could buckle down. Though I'm not, he is a proud Southerner & how fitting there is a reawakening in the country because of Southerners!

Posted by SLisBestinEarth on (April 10, 2014, 8:10 GMT)

Its awesome feeling that We invented the way of playing cricket(attacking way) in first 15 overs of cricket. Only then it was followed by Afridi, Gilli, Hayden, Gale, Shewag(flat track bully). Innovation in Art of Spin bowling : Carron ball Unconventional cricketers : Sanath, Malinga, Mendis

Posted by SLisBestinEarth on (April 10, 2014, 8:02 GMT)

SL team is unbeatable in the world.. Our shelves are waiting for 2015 W50. We have a players for that. We are complete Team.. Hats off Legends Sanga/Mahela.Sanga next best to Don Bradman. We are only Asian team to play Fast/Bouncy pitches very well. We haven't lose anything like 4-0,4-0,2-0,2-0 in Eng,Aus,SAF, Newz. Money alone cannot win trophies.

Posted by birkat on (April 10, 2014, 7:38 GMT)

Oh how wonderful it would have been if Tony Greig was there to do the commentaries. Thanks for a lovely article Mark. This and the pieces from Andrew which are mentioned here were absolutely wonderful articles and brought out so many emotions in me.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (April 10, 2014, 7:34 GMT)

Thank you Mark - The first time I heard about you was when you wrote an article for the Royal- Thomian magazine decades ago. Since then , I have always found time to read your articles.

Re. the current heroes , I still believe Aravinda De Silva is the biggest big game player the Island has produced though the old times think Sathasivam was the best of them all.

Yes , we all miss Tony Greig ( Peter Roebuck too)

Posted by Amit_13 on (April 10, 2014, 7:31 GMT)

It is a country and people hardened by wars for generations. The resolve will be there. The flame never goes out.

It is amazingly striking that 1996 was a win based on innovation that defined how cricket was played for the next 20 years and the win in 2014 was a return to basics from the same people. The only novelty was the ball coming out of the umpire's nose. Indeed Windies have gone even further back in the eras with a 'keeping wickets at the top policy'. Funny little game!!!

Meanwhile, two of the greatest players still have a year in them. I hope Sri Lanka rise to the occassion come WC2015. The flame may never go out!

Posted by CricketFever11 on (April 10, 2014, 7:07 GMT)

Great one mark. Come to Sri Lanka. We love you.

Posted by match_referee7 on (April 10, 2014, 6:50 GMT)

@FlatTrakBully , refer to your comment "SL win their 2nd world title in subcontinent. true LIONS! ". At least the Lions won the match. Some teams cant even hit a boundary in the last 4 overs in the final. Lol Don't be jealous man.

Posted by cric1965 on (April 10, 2014, 6:46 GMT)

I think the reason Sri Lanka failed in 99 world cup was they did not introduce young players. Most of the 96 players play for 99 . But their performance has reduced during these three years. I think they learn a lesson after that. Now they introduce new players gradually and keep their standard constantly. Players should not be selected only their past records. Should have current form also..

Posted by FlatTrakBully on (April 10, 2014, 6:25 GMT)

SL win their 2nd world title in subcontinent. true LIONS!

Posted by subcontinent-expert on (April 10, 2014, 5:53 GMT)

Great article... I think Sri Lanka missed out on 2007 wc final... Coz Jayasurya was looking very good on the chase... They have been most consistent in wc after only Aus if you look from 1996wc.. 96 - winners 99 - poor result (exception) 03 - semis 07 - finals 11 - finals Team having that record should be prime contenders and I hope they perform well in 2015...

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 5:44 GMT)

Real international citizen like Tony Greig

Posted by RoshJ on (April 10, 2014, 5:17 GMT)

Thanks Mark..what a wonderful article...mst of all..thanks for sharing our joy and pride!

Posted by match_referee7 on (April 10, 2014, 5:16 GMT)

Wow , never thought Mark Nicholas will write such an article. I'm just thinking whether he is the new Tony Greig for SL who loved SL people and Cricket so much. Thanks Mark. Waiting to hear your great voice in the commentary box soon. Cricket fan from Melbourne.

Posted by THEBEAST7 on (April 10, 2014, 5:07 GMT)

Thank you Nicholas. Great article...

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 5:04 GMT)

Thank you very much Mark, This is a great article.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (April 10, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

A fitting farewell to Mahela and Sanga. They're fine, fine ambassadors for Sri Lanka- any country would have been proud to have men like those two representing them (I'm not a Sri Lankan, btw)

Posted by Shehan_W on (April 10, 2014, 4:58 GMT)

A great article about the lankans and their cricket, thanks.

Posted by 9ST9 on (April 10, 2014, 4:55 GMT)

Yes. The late Tony Greig would have been overjoyed - May his soul Rest In peace.

Posted by Nmiduna on (April 10, 2014, 4:45 GMT)

When people were dancing in the rain at the Gall Face grounds in front of their heroes on the stage, one of my aunts thought they were crazy. they surely looked like people who's got rain after years of starving; but i understood them, and i wanted to dance with them. we are a country troubled by multiple problems. even after the war, too-nice common man is being bullied and misguided by you-know-whos, but cricket is one thing, perhaps the only thing, that haven't cheated; these bunch of players always tried to repay our loyalty and love, and we believed them, although at times we shouted in disbelief, we always secretly believed them. they did it this time, and it truly is a cause for limitless joy! and it is incredibly heartening when a 'white' person from a 'big' country understands this, it makes this win doubly sweet when people like you recognize how much this win means to all of us Sri Lankans, luckily and very very thankfully, players could play for fans!

Posted by SuchaSL on (April 10, 2014, 4:35 GMT)

Thank you Mark, lovely article. Love to see some one other than Andrew is writing about Sri Lanka like this. We all like the word "United Sri Lanka".

Posted by   on (April 10, 2014, 4:33 GMT)

wow the article gave me chills down the spine, ya would have loved it if Tony had called the match. RIP Tony, great article

Posted by Am1la on (April 10, 2014, 4:24 GMT)

We missed a couple of good voices in the commentary box. Would've been great to hear Tony Greig's grand voice at the winning moment.

Posted by kovinbuddi on (April 10, 2014, 3:49 GMT)

What a fantastic article.Wow! i love it.

Posted by shihan12 on (April 10, 2014, 3:39 GMT)

My word..this article explaining the true character of Sri Lankans..Thank you so much Mark Nicholas for make us proud of our achievements..and we gonna miss great Tony Greig.

Posted by VinothSam on (April 10, 2014, 3:00 GMT)

Grate article. Love it. It really recaps 1996 world cup winning. Sachithra and Kula's names were kind of hidden under Sanga and Maya's retirement and then two "little Sri Laankans" sounds grate. It reminds me "Little Kalu" and Sanath.

Posted by shockValue on (April 10, 2014, 2:29 GMT)

Lovely article. Loved reading it.!!

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Mark NicholasClose
Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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