The South Asian flick of the wrist that is commonplace in outdoor cricket is an element of the skillset of the 15 and Under Sri Lankan team that Australia’s best will have to be wary of this week in Cranbourne.
A long and proud history in outdoor cricket is helping create a pathway for a new generation of Sri Lankan cricketers, the indoor breed, who are playing at the 2019 National Indoor Cricket Championships at Casey Stadium, Cranbourne.
“In Sri Lanka, unfortunately we only have one indoor centre - about thirty minutes drive from Colombo. After receiving the invitation to compete from Cricket Australia, we took it with both hands. As after the World Cup, this is probably the biggest tournament in the world.” The ringing endorsement from Sri Lankan Coach, Asela Pathirana, is the reason why the Sri Lankan side are in Australia.
As a side who all but two have only been playing Indoor for three months, the opportunity to compete against, and learn from Australia’s best is one that was too good to refuse. Being only the second junior side from Sri Lanka to play internationally, the team will be looking to follow in the footsteps of those who have represented the nation at an Open level over the last twenty years.
“My favourite cricketer is Kumar Sangakarra.” Said captain, Sahan Vimukthi, a left arm wrist spinner who has also represented Sri Lanka outdoors at underage level. As the team complete their first training run on Australian soil, Sangakarra’s former Hobart Hurricanes teammates, Cameron Boyce and Clive Rose play in their Open Men’s Semi Final on the adjacent courts. Although those two cricketers have made a name for themselves outdoors, in particular Boyce, who has claimed the scalp of Virat Kohli during his time in the Australian T20 team, it is players such as Rob Fitzgerald, Lyle Teske, Vinesh Bennett and Matt Floros who the side will be looking to emulate, by succeeding at the international level of Indoor Cricket in the years to come.
Sri Lanka is not new to the Indoor Game by any means, having hosted the 2004 World Cup, but this being just the second underage to side to tour internationally, the development of this side could go a long way to seeing a Sri Lankan open side win their first World Cup.
With all players coming from an outdoor cricket background, the ability to transfer skills will be the key for the Sri Lankans, “In Indoor Cricket you have to be a good all-rounder, so one of our best players would be our captain, Sahan, he can bat, he can bowl and he can field. There are a couple of new guys as well, who are new to the game - have only played for three months.” Said Pathirana.
Thanks to the world wide web, the Sri Lankan side have been able to watch video of their opponents to try and gain an understanding of what they are up against. “But at the end of the day the have to come and play the game and learn about them.” Pathirana said. The side begun their campaign against the ACT, with another nine roster games across the week.
Cricket Australia Indoor Cricket Manager, Briana Binch, speaks highly of having developing Indoor Cricket nations, such as Sri Lanka visit Australia, “It’s a great way for them to see some high level Indoor Cricket played at our Championships, especially for a team made up of mostly outdoor cricketers.” She said.
As well as the growth of Sri Lanka’s Indoor Cricket program, the strengthening of the relationship between Sri Lanka Indoor Cricket and Cricket Australia is an important outcome of the side’s visit to Cranbourne. “With the Australasia Cup in Sri Lanka last year, we had been working closely with the Ceylon Indoor Cricket Association , and they have showed interest in further opportunities to develop their junior programs. So after about twelve months of discussions, we invited them over, as a way to not just develop their programs but to continue to strengthen our relationship.” Said Binch.
Sri Lanka’s fixture and result can be found here.
The 2019 Indoor Cricket National Championships are being held at Casey Stadium, Cranbourne between the 29th of June to the 13th of July. Semi Finals, Preliminary Finals and Grand Finals will be Live Streamed via Cricket Australia Indoor on Facebook.