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Golden Era of Sri Lankan Cricket

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The Golden Era of Sri Lankan Cricket

A book by Ajith Perera published May 1999

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Winning the World Cup 96 is the end result of the care, concern and commitment of many distinguished personnel. For many decades they sweated and toiled, both on and off the field, rather silently, through sheer hard work, greater sacrifice, unvanquished dedication, and unwavering determination, to give Sri Lanka the highest possible recognition in the international cricketing arena. It is thus indeed " a crowning achievement of a life time, that may be equalled but is unlikely to be surpassed ". It was not just another magnificent win by Sri Lanka at Lahore, over the mighty Australians at their very best. It was an incredible victory for the entire Nation, which brought in immense fame and much glory, incalculable in value and within that greater pride to every Sri Lankan, the world over. Through this fabulous performance, we have shown the world that, "team work and the will to win", is hard to beat.

History thus wrote a new chapter in glittering gold. It was an extraordinary achievement through outstanding performances, which should be cherished, not only for the rest of our own lives, but during that of the next generation too. The painstaking efforts taken in compiling this book, that too under many added hardships, is thus an endeavour with sincere dedication to Sri Lankan Cricket, to fill this void in the field of Cricket Literature.

"The Golden Era of Sri Lankan Cricket", is the story of the team that radiated brilliance in 0vers limited cricket, starting around the World Cup 96 and extending beyond that for a longer period of time. It is the fascinating story of Sri Lanka at World Cup 96 and beyond, capturing many a memorable happening and outstanding achievement, throughout this long journey. It captures all the drama, controversy and excitement in words, figures and pictures.

Aroused as they will almost certainly have been by the events of a melodramatic tour of Australia, the cricket -loving public of the world were in for a delectable feast of entertainment with some stupendous strokeplay over the course of watching Sri Lanka play this global event, World Cup 96. World attention was soon focused on the batting exploits of Sanath Jayasuriya, the audacious strokeplay of Aravinda De Silva and the leadership qualities of Arjuna Ranatunga, all giving new dimensions to 0vers limited cricket. Far beyond World Cup96 have these extended. This book captures for its readers many such spectacular happenings, both on and off the field of play.

Sri Lanka shocked the entire cricketing world by winning this prestigious title just 21 years after their first participation at the inaugural World Cup competition as an associate member. But their efforts were mistakenly put down as a proverbial flash in the pan. Their innovative tactics in the opening overs was seen as a "bull - at - the - gate" approach that suddenly paid off. As we all know now, their winning spree and greater success at one-day internationals (ODIs), never ended with winning the World Cup 96. In fact it blossomed to establish them as a champion team, one to be reckoned with. Endeavours have thus been made in this book to demonstrate that Sri Lanka were the Kings amongst Kings for an extended period of time.

International 0vers-limited cricket developed 28 years ago, from a fun and frolic fill-in, to cheer-up disappointed spectators at a washed out New Years Eve Test Match, into a highly marketable industry. They are thus very much in the news with World Cup 99 soon taking centre stage. In fact one of our veteran countrymen, Stanley Jayasinghe (former all-Ceylon and Leicestershire professional), participated in the first such game ever played on an organised basis, in England. In this context, it is pertinent to know about the birth and development of this game, - hence my first chapter, - and also to get a glimpse of the "Mega event of 1999" - thus the last two chapters.