Over the years, Sri Lanka cricket has produced several big names in world cricket. At a time when the ODI World Cup was a new concept and saw the dominance of big teams like the Caribbean and Australia, Sri Lanka became the third Asian team, second in a row, to lift the World Cup by more than 50 over in 1996.
During the 1996 World Cup, the Arjuna Ranatunga-led Islanders were not considered one of the strongest contenders. In fact, they had a tough trip all the way to the final, where teams like Australia and the Windies did not agree to go to the island nation for their respective World Cup matches. At the time, teams were reluctant to tour SL due to a massive bomb blast that tore through the capital Colombo on January 31, 1996, killing at least 80 people and injuring about 1,400.
In addition, SL horn with tournament favorites locked India in the semi-finals before beating them in a controversial way ahead of their historic triumph over Australia in the summit.
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In memory of the iconic World Cup triumph in 1996, former SL major and and former ICC referee Roshan Mahanama told WION in an exclusive interaction – on the sidelines of the launch of my book “My Innings – Retired Hurt to the Best View of the Game – – “I think I was a part of both phases of SL cricket (in the transition and when they became a deadly entity). We used to go to work, turn to organizations to help us. In the mid-90s, the change began. I do not think we got paid pretty well before we won the World Cup. It was not about money, but it was the passion for the game. At that World Cup in 1996, we were one of the experienced teams, but they never gave us the credit we needed. It helped us to be relaxed as we were not under pressure. That was the turning point in SL cricket. The guys who were part of that era contributed tremendously to SL getting test status. “
He added: “You rightly said it was a close-knit team. Arjuna was the father figure. That does not mean we agreed with everything he said. We gelled well, perhaps because of our background. We knew each other. and had played against each other from school days. It was pretty easy to build that team spirit. Some important lessons were teamwork, we played for our strength and not for the opponent’s strength. At that time Imran Khan had told us to beat first if we win. thrown, but we supported our strength to chase (in the 1996 final) and everything is now history.And the third is that when someone was asked to do something for the team, no one said ‘it is not my duty ‘and raised his hand. Not only the 14 guys selected in the squad, even the support staff played their part. “
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At present, the senior men’s team is not at their best across formats. Sri Lanka is not in the top five in any format in terms of ICC rankings. Mahanama shared his thoughts on the fall of the SLC, saying: “I think winning the World Cup was the biggest thing that happened. But by saying that people who never looked at getting involved in the SLC had decided that they have to to get involved to improve SLC.I really do not know why people have to fight to do an honor work.If we participate in a competition, we will never win because a lot of these people have done a lot of preparation.In a to the extent you can say that everything has been politicized.I still feel there is a lot to be done.We do not have the authority.We are only there to advise the minister and people in the cricket board but the last word is in their hands. I feel everyone has to work together. In SL we have to protect the game. “
For the ignorant, the former SL International’s latest book is not a means to make quick big bucks. In fact, it is solely for the purpose of helping a charity that supports cancer patients in the island nation. Thus he remains a servant not only for the SLC but also for his countrymen.