World T20 2014 April 7, 2014

Playing for the people

When Sri Lanka's players are marginalised by the board, or are on a poor run, they feel the fans are all they have left. There will be love, respect and admiration flowing in both directions when they take their trophy to the people on Tuesday.
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"Each of these stars are now wealthy beyond measure on any meaningful Sri Lankan scale, but yet, they are all so human." © ICC

Among the many great stories from Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup triumph is one that Arjuna Ranatunga loves to retell. In the days before the final, the team received a fax from Colombo, promising sums of money for runs and wickets. Almost every man in that dressing room had a day-job then. Most had families turning out a modest middle-class living. Team sponsorships barely covered team shirts, flights and equipment. Even the visionary coach was paid by a foreign board.

But as the team read out the bounty for each boundary scored, and catch taken, a collective sense of discomfort rose up. The feeling stretched beyond anger or resentment, Ranatunga says. It was hurt. "We looked at each other and said, 'Is this how people measure us? That we are only here to play for money? That we need an incentive beyond the love of playing for our country?'" Such tales are so often vulnerable to embellishment, but there is no doubting the earnestness in Ranatunga's voice.

"Before the end of the night, that piece of paper was torn into pieces and cast in the bin."

In the 24 hours before the 2014 World T20 team left to Bangladesh, they were told a second-string side may go in their stead if they did not sign the board's contracts. The officials relented on that stance, but the team left without any guarantee of payment for the campaign they were about to undertake. Like the 1996 side, they also had word of an added "incentive" in the days before the final. Whether the team will bank the $1.5 million, given that sum may be conditional, is yet unclear, but as they strode to a second global title in 18 years, there could be no mistake that for Sri Lanka, playing for country and its people had not gone out of style.

They are an easy people to play for. Dwarfed by its neighbours in the north, Sri Lanka is beset by a small-country mentality. The cricket team champions the nation on a global stage, and to support them is to be a patriot. Patriotism is paramount.

Sri Lanka fans feel their team is underappreciated internationally, and if cricket's global media was honest with itself, it would admit Sri Lanka is not a team it cares about, until they tour, mostly at infrequent intervals. It is the reason Sri Lanka's major-tournament record seems an enigmatic surprise to many. It is also the reason why Tony Greig's heartfelt exultations on the island and its cricket still resonated so profoundly with the public, even now, a year after his death.

"It is significant that at each annual contracts loggerhead, the players have never refused to take the field. It is the board who threaten to keep them off it. To not play for the public would be betrayal."

All this binds the fans tighter to their team, and the players know it. Those who have been around a decade or longer know that though the board rifles through interim committees, though governments come and go, and the game itself evolves at warp-speed, bringing new opponents and fresh challenges, the fans do not waiver. In their staying the course, the team finds its own direction. It is collective co-dependence. The Sri Lankan public so often feels ignored and disrespected by the state of the country's governance, many say cricket is their only respite. When the players are marginalised by the board, or are on a poor run, they feel the fans are all they have left.

It is significant that at each annual contracts loggerhead, the players have never refused to take the field. It is the board who threaten to keep them off it. To not play for the public would be betrayal, because in a country fitted with an archaic domestic model, shambolic first-class surfaces and a thousand political landmines, it is the fans who sustain the game and energise its spirit: who are its very lifeblood.

It is why, at the end of a toilsome Colombo day in the field, Kumar Sangakkara veers off to sign autographs and give handshakes before retiring to the dressing room. It is why, when a group of squirming kids are too shy to approach, Mahela Jayawardene goes to them instead, dropping to his haunches to greet them eye-to-eye, flashing that warm, wide smile. It is why Muttiah Muralitharan will return to a corner-shop with the signed photograph he had promised the day before. It is why Sanath Jayasuriya will fling his head back laughing, and throw an arm around a stranger who has just cracked a joke about him.

Each of these stars are now wealthy beyond measure on any meaningful Sri Lankan scale, but yet, they are all so human. Punch them, and they still bleed. Praise them, and they'll glow. So, uniquely among the major South Asian nations, Sri Lankan cricketers are free to live out their lives, as human beings, not hyper-real entertaining entities.

After the tournament win, Jayawardene was visibly choking back tears, as team-mates raised him on their shoulders at the Shere Bangla. Typically, it was Sangakkara who held it together well enough to give eloquent voice to their emotion.

"It's wonderful that the side really meant it when they said they would like to win the tournament for myself and Mahela. But at the same time, we've got 20 million other people we've got to win it for as well. It's not about me or Mahela or any single person, it's about everyone who stands with you, or behind you. I'm thankful for all the Sri Lankan fans, because without them, to have won this tournament - it would have been impossible."

On Tuesday, the team will bring their trophy to their people, on a long, snaking trail from the airport to the epicentre of Colombo's Sunday celebrations, at Galle Face. Tens of thousands will no doubt line the streets, reliving the joy of the game's final moments, grateful to the men who lightened their lives. But from atop the open bus, the team will not be happy just to breathe it in. There will be love, respect and admiration flowing down into the streets as well.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 9, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    Me and my fiancee (wife now) had the opportunity to watch SL take on WI some 10 years ago in Barbados. We were among a handful of SL fans and the team took it upon themselves ensure we were comfortable. We were invited to after-game team gatherings and had dinner nearly every day with them. We shared food, drinks and good times. These guys are among the most down-to-earth among any sports celebrities and we keep in touch with some even to date.

  • on April 8, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    One of my Indian friends told me he had an opportunity to sit beside Mahela in a plane. He appreciated Mahela's down to earth personality. Once he told Mahela that my son would be very happy when he get to know that he fly with Mahela as one of favorite cricketer of his son. When they reached to airport Mahela has asked him why don't you call your son then I can make him happier. There are lot of stories about almost all the players in the team. They are humble to the maximum. If you read Sports Star just after the 1996 World Cup in tour diary you get lot of similar stories about 1996 World Cup winning team as well

  • Sinhaya on April 11, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    Very good analysis indeed. We love our cricketers and no matter how good or bad they are, we adore them. They mean so much to us. We got a major trophy at last and CWC 2015 is the next goal.

  • Dimuthu.heendeniya on April 11, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    I have followed SL cricket since age 12 for over 30 years. Had the privilege of watching the 1996 world cup final and the feeling of joy, national pride and perhaps the most - a personal victory. Since that time I followed SL in major tournaments as an avid follower. Most times due to time difference I woke up 2AM, 4AM to watch my team play. This type of dedication caused issues with my wife not knowing why SL cricket has such a priority in my life. Its simple. I miss my home country very much and its party of who I am. Our country has gone through many struggles in the past and cricket has been a powerful force that provide unity, happiness and peace to many. Although many heart aches of loosing finals in the past, this 2014 T20 victory made it all worth it. So to all the SL fans and cricket fans in general please don't let go of your dreams and passions no matter how hopeless it gets. Keeping believing in yourself and your team and country. Dreams do come trues. Well done SRI LANK.

  • BKyogi on April 11, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    School boy cricketers do have an aura of greatness, in general only the boys of that school will know them, however, when they represent Sri-Lanka, they are known by all irrespective of their language and religion. They are down to earth guys, and easy going. I was in Singapore and entered a small restaurant down Serangoon road and whom did I see. Kumar Dharmesena and couple of Sri-lankan cricketers having a meal. Will this happen with cricketers of other countries. I doubt it. I also read an article sometime back, when Sri-lankan cricketers get down from a bus on their way to represent our mother country, they stand in a queue, irrespective whether senior or not. My blessings to these guys. What I wouldn't give to have a meal with Mahela, Sanga, Murli and others in Colombo. Those who are in the committee, please note that it is the cricketers who bring fame to our country and not you guys.

  • on April 10, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Good article written with emotion. nandiJ@LA

  • Lion_96 on April 10, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I thought i might get emotional when T.Perera hit THAT six to win the match, but I didnt. Now that I have read this article, I feel emotional. I sat through each of those four finals, contract crisis etc etc. Thank you Andrew! Thank you, Sri Lankan Cricket Team. Cricinfo plz publish!

  • on April 10, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Very well written. Andrew is the Sri Lankan voice in Cricinfo.

  • on April 10, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    I think Sri Lankan cricketers energies with some invisible power when they represent the national side. There performance is ordinary when representing franchises . They love to represent the country

  • twelvethman on April 10, 2014, 1:05 GMT

    A very nice article. The fact that we have so many cricket fans in Sri Lanka, today (and good knowledgable ones at that) must be attributed to the 1996 victorious team lead by Arjuna. I recall in the years prior to that, apart from the kids who went to leading schools, all the kids played elle. Soon after the world cup victory there was a 360 degree turn-around. In every little patch of space (including lanes, streets, with lamp posts as wickets, footpaths and pavements) one could see kids playing cricket . The immense talent we have today, stems from that eventful day. We should say 'Thank You' once again to Arjuna, Aravinda, Sanath, Vaas, Murali and the rest of the team for this situation.

  • on April 9, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    Me and my fiancee (wife now) had the opportunity to watch SL take on WI some 10 years ago in Barbados. We were among a handful of SL fans and the team took it upon themselves ensure we were comfortable. We were invited to after-game team gatherings and had dinner nearly every day with them. We shared food, drinks and good times. These guys are among the most down-to-earth among any sports celebrities and we keep in touch with some even to date.

  • on April 8, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    One of my Indian friends told me he had an opportunity to sit beside Mahela in a plane. He appreciated Mahela's down to earth personality. Once he told Mahela that my son would be very happy when he get to know that he fly with Mahela as one of favorite cricketer of his son. When they reached to airport Mahela has asked him why don't you call your son then I can make him happier. There are lot of stories about almost all the players in the team. They are humble to the maximum. If you read Sports Star just after the 1996 World Cup in tour diary you get lot of similar stories about 1996 World Cup winning team as well

  • Sinhaya on April 11, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    Very good analysis indeed. We love our cricketers and no matter how good or bad they are, we adore them. They mean so much to us. We got a major trophy at last and CWC 2015 is the next goal.

  • Dimuthu.heendeniya on April 11, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    I have followed SL cricket since age 12 for over 30 years. Had the privilege of watching the 1996 world cup final and the feeling of joy, national pride and perhaps the most - a personal victory. Since that time I followed SL in major tournaments as an avid follower. Most times due to time difference I woke up 2AM, 4AM to watch my team play. This type of dedication caused issues with my wife not knowing why SL cricket has such a priority in my life. Its simple. I miss my home country very much and its party of who I am. Our country has gone through many struggles in the past and cricket has been a powerful force that provide unity, happiness and peace to many. Although many heart aches of loosing finals in the past, this 2014 T20 victory made it all worth it. So to all the SL fans and cricket fans in general please don't let go of your dreams and passions no matter how hopeless it gets. Keeping believing in yourself and your team and country. Dreams do come trues. Well done SRI LANK.

  • BKyogi on April 11, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    School boy cricketers do have an aura of greatness, in general only the boys of that school will know them, however, when they represent Sri-Lanka, they are known by all irrespective of their language and religion. They are down to earth guys, and easy going. I was in Singapore and entered a small restaurant down Serangoon road and whom did I see. Kumar Dharmesena and couple of Sri-lankan cricketers having a meal. Will this happen with cricketers of other countries. I doubt it. I also read an article sometime back, when Sri-lankan cricketers get down from a bus on their way to represent our mother country, they stand in a queue, irrespective whether senior or not. My blessings to these guys. What I wouldn't give to have a meal with Mahela, Sanga, Murli and others in Colombo. Those who are in the committee, please note that it is the cricketers who bring fame to our country and not you guys.

  • on April 10, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Good article written with emotion. nandiJ@LA

  • Lion_96 on April 10, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I thought i might get emotional when T.Perera hit THAT six to win the match, but I didnt. Now that I have read this article, I feel emotional. I sat through each of those four finals, contract crisis etc etc. Thank you Andrew! Thank you, Sri Lankan Cricket Team. Cricinfo plz publish!

  • on April 10, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Very well written. Andrew is the Sri Lankan voice in Cricinfo.

  • on April 10, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    I think Sri Lankan cricketers energies with some invisible power when they represent the national side. There performance is ordinary when representing franchises . They love to represent the country

  • twelvethman on April 10, 2014, 1:05 GMT

    A very nice article. The fact that we have so many cricket fans in Sri Lanka, today (and good knowledgable ones at that) must be attributed to the 1996 victorious team lead by Arjuna. I recall in the years prior to that, apart from the kids who went to leading schools, all the kids played elle. Soon after the world cup victory there was a 360 degree turn-around. In every little patch of space (including lanes, streets, with lamp posts as wickets, footpaths and pavements) one could see kids playing cricket . The immense talent we have today, stems from that eventful day. We should say 'Thank You' once again to Arjuna, Aravinda, Sanath, Vaas, Murali and the rest of the team for this situation.

  • on April 9, 2014, 17:04 GMT

    Hey Andrew , i bashed u about the article about Bangladesh ( which i still dislike ), but this piece is amazing . You captured our way of life in this article , which is amazing for an outsiders to understand. This brought tears to my eyes , this piece is a amazing piece ! Thanks ! Former hater !!!

  • SLANKA_FAN on April 9, 2014, 13:14 GMT

    Excellent article Andrew. Your words are pure gold and touches the bottom of our hearts,bringing tears to the eyes. Three cheers!!!! to Sri Lankan Cricketers and three cheers!!!! to the Sri Lankan cricket fans. Keep it up Andrew!!

  • on April 9, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    Sri Lankan cricketers are an unique bunch humble beyond their stardom, uniquely same goes for Sri Lankan cricket fans. It was an immense joy winning a world cricket title after 18 years, whole country erupted with bliss.

    Sri Lankan cricket fans has always been with our team with all their up and down, we have rejoiced when they win and we have shed tears together when they were not so fortunate but we have never even raised a finger against our team.

    In our own Sri Lankan way we are lucky to have a talentful bunch and they are lucky to have such a nation behind them.

  • on April 9, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Well written article.very true

  • suharshan on April 9, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    You are the man Andrew! What an article.

  • on April 9, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    Andrew's writing is admired and appreciated by fans beyond Srilanka. I, from India, is one of them. I immensely like his style of writing too. And, had express it before, and expressing it again.

  • on April 9, 2014, 5:41 GMT

    Andrew, the service you are doing through these lines are just amazing. The way you capture these moments and the way to word them is just amazing. Thanks for the all these wonderful moments. May you be blessed to keep doing this great service for SL cricket

  • Hareendra_Chamara on April 9, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    Hey Andrew. I couldn't stop a tear coming to the corner. Love your writing always. Our lions lead by mahela and sanga will play ever for this die hard nation. Hope all the best for all the players and fans.

  • RufusNZ on April 9, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Andrew - This is for you...

    Many writers have written about our cricketers. Some not Sri Lankans, some are. But you capture emotions, state the truth very eloquently and bravely. You understand Sri Lankan culture very well and illustrate its admirable nuances clearly. No mistake about it - You are doing a great service to Sri Lanka and its cricketers. In a dog eat dog world where journalists are with hidden agendas and many axes to grind you have been refreshing change. No doubt what I have said here you would heard many times before from many more important people. But saying it once more is worth it. God speed to you! - Andrew.

  • varsha8 on April 9, 2014, 2:33 GMT

    what an article Andrew !!! ...I've read it a few times , and not a single time without a tear in my eyes ... :)

  • on April 9, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    Birds of the same feather! That's what these cricket administrators seem to be everywhere! They forget the foundations on which they build their bloated egos, and gloating over "their" achievements. Built on the toils of the cricketers, and joys of the millions of fans. From West Indies to all the way to NewZealand, if you travel westwards; it is the same story.

    It is just the passion of the cricketers and joy and support of the millions which sustain the game everywhere. Over the years. Across the continents. And, not the admins. Yes, I concede they help make money for the Boards. Nurturing cricket (and its legacy) goes to the credit of the players. Dear cricketers everywhere; I stand up (difficult at my age with all the ailments) and salute you all.

  • flowersintherain on April 9, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    A beautifully wriitten article, illustrating the love that Sri Lankan cricketers have for the game itself. Perhaps it comes from the grounding they get in school cricket, which is very competitive, but fun, none the less.

  • tearisle on April 8, 2014, 20:44 GMT

    Sri Lankan cricket = Sheer poetry in motion Andre Fidel Fernando = Sheer poetry going viral You two are the be all and the end all of Cricket period

  • on April 8, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    well written article about sri lanka and its cricket

  • on April 8, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Beautifully captured..couldn't held back tears...Jayawewa Sri Lanka !!

  • SLWATERBOY on April 8, 2014, 17:53 GMT

    A very nice and truly written article. Thanks a lot Andrew of understanding the feelings of the innocent fans in SL!

  • on April 8, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    I am an Indian and a die hard Sachinand Indian fan, but I think the SL team played well and deserved victory in the end. I am especailly happy for Malinga, Sanga and Maleha who deserve at least one WC title. They have contributed immensely to the game and to SL cricket. Well deserved and good luck.

  • on April 8, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    Andrew has such a wonderful way with words, for the second time in two days his writing had my eyes well-up!

    On a balmy March evening in Sher-e-Bangla, Sri Lanka Cricket finally casted off their perennial runners up tag and stepped on to the winner's podium as the ICC T20 World Champions! Weighed down by eighteen long years of wait and the expectations of twenty million people, eleven guys played a game of cricket as if their life was dependent on it. For them, their colleagues and the support staff in the dugout it was much, much more than that. This time for the eternal bridesmaids catching the bouquet was not in the script!

  • on April 8, 2014, 13:33 GMT

    This has said everything abt SL cricket.well done

  • Prabhash1985 on April 8, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    We miss Tony... Feel very sad... Had he been with us, he is the first to jump around in joy... "A little fairy tale..."

  • upulsrnn on April 8, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Beautifully written article Andrew .. love the way you describe the whole story .. we, as true cricket lovers suffered a lot whenever we lost final encounters .. but we never give up & we knew someday our dreams will come true .. now that moment arrived .. i am ecstatic .. no words to describe what we feel .. hats off to the entire team .. will miss great Sanga & Maiyya ..

  • on April 8, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    the best story I had ever read in cricinfo...... Andrew Fiedel u ar the man.... u caught the reality the truth of Sri Lanka Cricket, Cricketers..... these extraordinary talented humble men were playing cricket more than a year without any payments.... because they know the heart of their fans, the faith of 20 million fans for them were unmatcheble with money.... thats why the play their country not for the money..... God bless them for their future for their life....

  • on April 8, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    Awesome article Andrew. We love you Team Lanka!

  • MelbourneMiracle on April 8, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    Articulate Andrew!

  • janavm on April 8, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    What an article. Well done writer and it is so true. Brought tears when i was reading.

  • on April 8, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    Andrew...your writing brought tears to my eyes.....

  • MaxG9 on April 8, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    Andrew, good & eloquent article. You have put in words, many of us, the fans, have felt. Continue the good work.

    To the entire squad, support staff & little mentioned new coach, Paul Farbrace,& selectors, our thanks in taking us over the line this time. Heartfelt thanks to our unselfish captain Chandimal who stepped down in the interest of the team in vital matches. How many in other countries would do this?

    Our record is unparalleled in World men's cricket. In 10 ICC WC events, both T20 & 50 overs, from 1996, we have won twice, been losing finalists 4 more times, & losing semi finalists a further twice. EIGHT appearances in semis in 10 tries!!! RSA eat your heart out. AND our record is equal in T20's as well as 50 over cricket.

    I hope our Sports administrators & mandarins at the Ministry of Sports, will note this achievement & take a leaf off our cricketers performances, in cricket as well as other sports in SL.

  • on April 8, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    nice article. yes they played like a team. every body contributed in it. Administrative issues were kept aside and they played good cricket. playing like a team. The selfless decisions like benching the captain was really awesome.

  • sandy_bangalore on April 8, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Fantastic article! Wish Indian cricket fans learn from this. And more importantly they show respect to other nations cricketing abilities.

  • Sidelines on April 8, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Andrew Fidel Fernando, your beautiful article brought tears to my eyes! Thank you.

  • SARAM222 on April 8, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    Well said Andrew, keep it up, keep up the good work you do for us & the rest of the world.

  • on April 8, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    This is the best article I have ever read.

  • schathuranga on April 8, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    If i'm writer. this is what i wrote.

  • on April 8, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    what an article Andrew! you're doing great job for Sri Lankan fans over many years. keep it up!

  • stormy16 on April 8, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    Great read and what a team the SL bunch are when you consider the odds stacked against them by their own administration. No contracts, constant misadminisration, the list goes on. The team landed in Bangladesh hours after SLC threatened to send a second string team and hours after, the chief selector threw a spanner in the works over the resignation for Sanga and Mahela. If you look at any top 5 list of performers for the t20 WC, I would be surprised if there was a SL player on the list, yet they hammered everyone in the knock out stages including the mighty Indians and a very strong Winides. Neither of these start studded teams boasting big name players even got a look in the finals. SL basically fought in the trenches and simply outplayed everyone in the knock out stage and this from a team with so much stacked against it. Well done lads there are Champions and as the write noted, there are Champions of the people and this SL team certainly are the champions of the people.

  • CricketFever11 on April 8, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    This is epic. We Lankans never boasted about our victories for months and years. Celebrations will end within couple of days. Everything will be normal and everybody will move on.

  • naveen1122 on April 8, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    Absolute gem of an article Andrew, hats off for that first. The Sri Lankan cricket is all about teamwork and they have been playing as a team throughout all the tournaments where they achieved good honours. They have faced all the cricketing and non-cricketing challenges as a team under superb leaderships. The final with the mighty Indians was a wonderful example for teamwork with everyone chipping nicely in, as India heavily relied on Kholi for victory.

  • RoshJ on April 8, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    Right on money Andrew..another very well written article that captures the true spirit being a PROUD SRI LANKAN!! Playing for the people..ineed they did!!

  • on April 8, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    Great article Andrew! We are very proud of our Cricketers!

  • y2jver1 on April 8, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    Stunning piece Andrew. Captures the essence of the 'Sri Lankan Cricketer' and the 'Sri Lankan Cricket fan' perfectly.

  • roshrosh on April 8, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    We are truly proud of our team... A lot to do with cricket, but more to do with their simple, humble attitude.... I can give 100s of examples and incidents where Mahela's, Sanga's, Vaas's, Sanath's Aravinda's, Thilan's just live among the ordinary people genuinely... this is what makes cricket such a passion to us Sri Lankans. Cups and trophies make us happy and ecstatic. But the cricketers make us love the game passionately. When they are on the field we know they represent all of us... I don't even remotely expect other cricketing nations to even understand this...

  • on April 8, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    Excellent writing Andrew, you are the best writer in cricinfo by far! You have brought out the 'ugly truths' about today's game, governed by the market forces. It may be an old fashioned and soon to be extinct idea - "playing for the people", but I believe that's what sport is all about.

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    This took my eyes sicked for a moment! well said Andrew!!

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    A superb article :) these guys just plays for us wearing that blue jersey is totally a pride for them. they are the only team to play even without a salary for more than one year!!! its just amazing any other team in the world will not do that. Media tried to kill malinga but truly he always give his best to the Country the past cricket board gave such a bad image about him to the fans but the ones who knows the story knows who is he :) Love these guys so much they make us proud !!! Win or not we always love our team because they give there best to the Country!!!

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Damn you Andrew, you had me in tears towards the end!

  • rafilafir on April 8, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    Well Said Sanga! a big "THANK YOU" to you and the whole team. It was sheer team effort that proved our success. We , thats twenty million, waited for this for so long. Splendid show in the end, thank you.

  • Praviya on April 8, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Superb article. The victory goes to show the immense talent and determination of the people of this small nation. It's been a while since the people had something to cheer about. This has been an ideal reason to do so.

  • Dr.Lakson on April 8, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    Wow..... great piece about SL Cricket ..........

  • Niketh2000 on April 8, 2014, 3:22 GMT

    Epic man! Absolutely smoked it!!

  • Niketh2000 on April 8, 2014, 3:22 GMT

    Epic man! Absolutely smoked it!!

  • Dr.Lakson on April 8, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    Wow..... great piece about SL Cricket ..........

  • Praviya on April 8, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Superb article. The victory goes to show the immense talent and determination of the people of this small nation. It's been a while since the people had something to cheer about. This has been an ideal reason to do so.

  • rafilafir on April 8, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    Well Said Sanga! a big "THANK YOU" to you and the whole team. It was sheer team effort that proved our success. We , thats twenty million, waited for this for so long. Splendid show in the end, thank you.

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Damn you Andrew, you had me in tears towards the end!

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    A superb article :) these guys just plays for us wearing that blue jersey is totally a pride for them. they are the only team to play even without a salary for more than one year!!! its just amazing any other team in the world will not do that. Media tried to kill malinga but truly he always give his best to the Country the past cricket board gave such a bad image about him to the fans but the ones who knows the story knows who is he :) Love these guys so much they make us proud !!! Win or not we always love our team because they give there best to the Country!!!

  • on April 8, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    This took my eyes sicked for a moment! well said Andrew!!

  • on April 8, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    Excellent writing Andrew, you are the best writer in cricinfo by far! You have brought out the 'ugly truths' about today's game, governed by the market forces. It may be an old fashioned and soon to be extinct idea - "playing for the people", but I believe that's what sport is all about.

  • roshrosh on April 8, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    We are truly proud of our team... A lot to do with cricket, but more to do with their simple, humble attitude.... I can give 100s of examples and incidents where Mahela's, Sanga's, Vaas's, Sanath's Aravinda's, Thilan's just live among the ordinary people genuinely... this is what makes cricket such a passion to us Sri Lankans. Cups and trophies make us happy and ecstatic. But the cricketers make us love the game passionately. When they are on the field we know they represent all of us... I don't even remotely expect other cricketing nations to even understand this...

  • y2jver1 on April 8, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    Stunning piece Andrew. Captures the essence of the 'Sri Lankan Cricketer' and the 'Sri Lankan Cricket fan' perfectly.