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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2790

Angelo Matthews wins the HRH Prince of Wales Trophy for excellence in cricket

Colombo, 21 October, ( The British High Commissioner, Dominick Chilcott, awarded the Prince of Wales Cricket Trophy to Angelo Matthews of St Joseph’s College Colombo, an outstanding all-rounder in Sri Lanka’s under 19 team since 2003.

In awarding it Chilcott said that “he is clearly going places and before long will be a household name throughout the cricketing world. “

Matthews captained the under 19 team during their tour of England in 2005 in which he scored a century in the third test at Headingly, a difficult track. He is also a formidable bowler. He was Sri Lanka's best player in the 2006 under 19's world cup.

At the award ceremony, held at Westminster House, the High Commissioners gave a running commentary on Sri Lankan cricket. He said:

“Sri Lanka's performance in getting to the final of this year's world cup was a wonderful achievement. But it was not a huge surprise. The team is well balanced, with great depth in batting and some formidable bowlers with world class reputations. And in the captain, Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka has a superb batsman and one of the most astute brains in the modern game.

This formidable combination came across England in the world cup and produced one of the best matches of the tournament. Faint hearted English supporters went to bed early that night convinced that England, batting second, were scoring too slowly and had lost too many wickets to overtake Sri Lanka's total. Well, that proved to be the right judgement but only just. It was a nail biting finish that Sri Lanka won by the skin of their teeth.

After the excitement of the world cup, the English county cricket season got underway. And, as in previous years, despite the appalling weather in England this summer, a number of highly talented Sri Lankan cricketers fly off to play for English counties. Kumar Sangakkara was outstanding for Warwickshire. Both Sanath Jayasuriya and Murali gave Lancashire yeoman service. And Lasith Malinga, the most devastating bowler of the world cup, joined Kent.

The cricket feast was far from over at the end of the English summer, however. We then had the inaugural 20-20 world cup. It may not be every purist's idea of cricket but, by Jove, it makes for cracking entertainment. The South Africans hosted a wonderful tournament and, although neither England nor Sri Lanka made it to the final, I suspect none of us begrudge India's or Pakistan's right to have got there. They gave us a final to remember.

Straight after the 20-20, the action moved to Sri Lanka, with the first part of England's tour here and the five one-day internationals. Thanks to the generosity of the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, my wife and I and a number of colleagues at the High Commission, were able to watch many of the games. The first match at Dambulla was such a clear victory for Sri Lanka that I began to fear the worst - another five-nil white-wash, a repeat of the ignominy of 2005. But as we all know, English teams these days don't lose easily. Under Paul Collingwood's dogged and gritty leadership, they rescued victory from the jaws of defeat and won the series 3-2.

It was an historic win for England, the first series victory in Sri Lanka ever and the first such win in any South Asian country for over 20 years. Of course, there is more to come, with the test match series in December. I can't wait.

Given all this sporting rivalry, it is a fair question to ask, from the English point of view, why we should award a trophy to encourage cricket excellence in Sri Lanka. This country produces so many great players without any assistance from us. The last thing England needs is another brilliant Sri Lankan batsman or bowler. Do we enjoy being beaten by Sri Lanka?

Obviously, that misses the point. We are not a nation of sporting masochists. But Britain's relations with Sri Lanka, foundered on shared history, are nowadays sustained by the huge volume of contacts and links between our peoples, by a colossal amount of personal warmth and friendship between individual Sri Lankans and Brits and, yes, ultimately, by a lot of love. We take pleasure from those things that we hold in common, of which one of the most important is a shared enthusiasm for cricket.

There are not so many first class countries that play this great game. We worry for the health of world cricket when teams like the West Indies get stuck in the doldrums. We want all cricketing countries to do well, though not necessarily against England.

So I am genuinely delighted to be able to celebrate the healthy state of cricket in Sri Lanka and the wealth of cricketing talent this country produces. It is good for the whole world of cricket that Sri Lanka should have become, in a relatively short period, one of the most formidable sides in the world. Long may that continue. “

- Asian Tribune -

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