Aussie Lankans going crazy
backing guys back home!
There is a surge of anticipation sweeping through Australia at the moment as Sri Lankan expatriates have jumped on the bandwagon of world opinion to boldly predict that it is the Island nation’s turn to grab the plum of world cricket.
Yes, every man and his dog that I run into here in Melbourne, and those I speak to from other states around Australia, are of a firm belief that Mahela Jayawardene’s men are fully equipped to win the World Cup despite widespread belief among Aussies that they are on their way to a hat-trick of wins in the race for cricket’s ultimate glory.
My feeling on the matter is with the Sri Lankan expats because I clearly see a trend similar to Arjuna Ranatunge’s triumphant effort in 1996. If there was a difference it is that unlike Sri Lanka’s first triumph which came against all odds, this time they are widely respected and feared even by the mighty Australians who have pencilled in Sri Lanka as one of their greatest threats. To hear players such as Shane Warne and Michael Hussey talk up Sri Lanka is by no means an observation to be dismissed lightly.
Thousands of cricket mad Sri Lankans are fixated by the upcoming tournament and so much so, that the verbal stoushes have begun in gay abandon between Aussie fans and Sri Lankan followers who usually enjoy ribbing each other about their country’s chances whenever the World Cup comes around.
Sri Lanka in Australian minds, will always be an adversary after they snatched the Cup in ’96, so the setting is set for a humdinger of a tournament which in my opinion will be the most fiercely contested World Cup in its short history. Mark Taylor who captained Australia’s losing finalists in ‘96, continues to show why he was also one of his country’s worst role models as a leader of a great cricketing nation. His antics as an umpire in a recent game between some of Australia’s former sporting champions where he set up a theatrical performance by someone mimicking Muttiah Muralidaran’s action and calling him for “chucking” on national TV, was in poor taste.
It must be recalled that the scene was very similar in ’95 when Darrel Hair called Murali for throwing in Melbourne stirring a controversy that fired the Sri Lankans to seek revenge and recourse in the World Cup that followed a few months later. This latest episode may be yet another spur the Sri Lankans need to sink Australia’s aspirations. But this time round the feeling is that one of the other countries will knock off the defending world champions earlier than the final.
Sri Lanka’s Australian residents were mostly in unison about their motherland’s chances of winning cricket’s richest prize. Sarath Goonawardhana a site Services Engineering Manager at Nestle Peters Ice Cream Company in Melbourne says, “I think we have got the team to beat the best in the world. But the nature of one-day cricket is such that anyone can pull off an unexpected win on their day”. His observations are pretty much spot on.
Sports mad Dr. Nihal Heenatigala whose walls of his surgery is adorned by some of the world’s greatest cricketers including Sir Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Ricky Ponting all with whom he has been involved as a sports doctor, is as excited as most of us. He said “We are definitely in with a chance. In my opinion players such as Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu and perhaps Murali may not play in another World Cup so my assertion is that they would like to exit the world stage with a bang and this will be an ideal impetus for Sri Lanka to win the cup to honour them for their contribution to their country over a long period of time”.
Prominent Sydney businessmen Dilip Kumar, President of world controlling body of Rugby 80, chimed in with his observation, “The mantle of being world champion brings with it high esteem for the country during its four year reign and will actually contribute tremendously in lifting the morale of the Sri Lankan people” he said. He pointed out that Sri Lanka’s strength lay in the experience of the team, their batting depth and a bowling attack that can contain even the very best batting line up in the world. Dilip said if there was a weakness with Sri Lanka it was a lack of consistency but they do possess the hunger to succeed. They need to take a leaf out of Australia’s book and believe in themselves and if they manage to achieve this they can win the World Cup, he said.