Sports

Vaadaa Macha: Jaffna makes cricketing history

Will it be the turning point?

By Ravi Varman in Jaffna

 

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world celebrating cricket. We have a great history for cricket that goes past a century. 17th of March 1996 was the day where the cricket world turned its eyes towards our small island when our national team led by Arjuna Ranatunga lifted the world title for the first time.

With a failure of Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) many years ago and a global pandemic, nobody thought that Sri Lanka would host a cricket league. Yet we have successfully organised it and the league ended with a lot of positive vibes.

For me as a cricket loving boy from Jaffna, there are a few things in this league which I appreciate. The first thing is that there was a franchise in the name of Jaffna. The next thing is that the Jaffna Stallions (JS) team included four of “our” players who have been the stars of the region representing their schools. Eventually, the franchise Jaffna Stallions lead by Thisara Perera went on to win the inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL) title and registered the name of Jaffna in the international history books.

 

The first to win the junior caps

 

In 2018, Selvarasa Mathusan and Vijayakanth Viyaskanth of Jaffna Central College were called up for the Sri Lanka Youth pool, where Mathusan was a member of the Sri Lanka Youth squad which became runner-up at the Youth Asia Cup and later Mathusan made his first-class debut for the Tamil Union.

It happened in the very next year after K. Kapilraj and S. Jeni Flemin from St John’s College here played for the Sri Lanka U-19 Development squad against South Africa U-19 team. Right-handed top-order batsman Jeni Flemin has played Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) U-23 tournament for Moors SC along with the right-arm spinner Vithusan. K. Kapilraj represented Tamil Union U-23 team in 2019 and this year he was in the Police U-23 squad. And 19-year-old Vijayakanth Viyaskanth is still at school with one season remaining.

 

Players from North and East into the Jaffna Stallions squad

 

On the 19th of October, Jaffna fans started to celebrate stars of their own as Viyaskanth, Kapilraj along with his schoolmate Dinoshan, an 18-year-old all-rounder who is currently in the Sri Lanka youth development system were picked up to the Jaffna Stallions squad as standby players.

Immediately, social media started to react to it as the people felt it as an opening of a path for cricketers from North and East to enter international cricket, as they would be in the squad along with international stars like Sohib Malik, Thisara Perera, and many others. On the other hand, some reacted to the fact that they will be warming the bench, as it happened in the past.

Later Sebastiampillai Vijayaraj, with nickname “Kilinochchi Express” was also brought into the squad as a supplementary player. Among these, Viyaskanth, the leg-spinner, made himself into the squad of 18. Later, JS brought in Rednaraja Thenudaran, another all-rounder from Batticaloa to their extended squad. He had been celebrated all over the cricket world for his outstanding catches in the Army Major T20 tournament, where he won the award for the best fielder.

 

VV in action

 

Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, the Jaffna schoolboy who impressed for the victorious Jaffna Stallions in the LPL 2020 last week, meeting three world champions, Chaminda Vaas, Hashan Tillakaratne, and Arjuna Ranatunga

JS comfortably won their first four matches and qualified to the semi-finals, and, as many expected, they rested some of their players to make way for youngsters. It turned out to be the day for young Viyaskanth as well as the cricket community of North and East to enter into international cricket records.

In that match, he bowled well to the power hitters like Andre Russell, Dinesh Chandimal, and Angelo Mathews and he captured his maiden wicket of Mathews, thanks to Shoiab Malik. He ended the match on a high with figures of 4-0-29-1, with the consistent support from Wanindu Hasaranga and skipper Thisara Perera.

The Tamils really appreciated the cheers which the team-mates gave to him; especially it was nice to listen Minod Bhanuka cheering “Come on Viyas Malli (younger brother)!” from the stump mic. He had two other matches added to his experience.

 

PS

In the next article, we will focus on the available resources here in the North and East and what is actually lacking here. It will bring some views expressed by the fans and cricket enthusiasts of Jaffna