Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tamil cricketers defy the odds

A former top Sri Lankan cricketer has launched what he says is the first training camp to integrate young Tamils from the north into the national team.

Aravinda de Silva said he was highly optimistic that Tamils from the area would play international cricket soon.

He spoke to the BBC after returning to Colombo from a "talent search" in the war-torn Jaffna Peninsula.

The civil war and ethnic divisions have meant that few northern Tamils have played in the national side.

"The keenness of the players was unbelievable," Mr de Silva told the BBC's Sinhala service. Mr de Silva thinks some players will break through into the national team

"We spent three days coaching about 70 teenage players and seven of those have now been selected to come for a super camp which will be held later on in the year."

Mr de Silva - a former top test batsman - said that the players responded to the training camp - held amid heavy security - "extremely positively" and many out-performed their contemporaries in other parts of the country less seriously affected by the war.

"The way they took the sessions so seriously and the way they kept on asking questions reflected really well on them all," he said. "It never happened on any of the previous eight camps we held.

"One observant young player even asked if the reason why I have one leg more muscular than the other was because I am a right-handed batsman and put more weight on one particular leg."

Source: BBC