“Corruption is the part and parcel of the subcontinent and the Sri Lankan Cricket Board have been accused of such many times. But they have not taken Sri Lanka cricket to the doldrums. One should not forget, these Board Officials and the persons related to cricket are the products of this unique culture which teaches to build and not destroy”

In the first ball of the 45th over, Rangana Herath dished out a slider which hit the pad of Nathan Lyon. The Sri Lankans appealed for an lbw and the umpire raised his finger. Lyon went for the review, but the decision of the on-field umpire was upheld. Australia were all out for 160 despite being in a very comfortable position at 77 for 0 and lost the Test by 163 runs. Rangana Herath bagged his 13th wicket of the match and age is just a number for this cuddly-built Sri Lankan.

The Lankan Lions created history by beating the visitors 3-0 for the first time and before the series started, they had won just once against the former number 1 Test side of the world.

The English summer of 2016 was wet.

It was gloomy, bone-chilling, and nightmarish.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad just love such bowling-friendly conditions to torment the opposition batsmen with their sharp pace and swing. The Sri Lankans were sliced into pieces by the deadly bowling display of the English and when the one-day series ended, the England tour was nothing but a story of despair for Angelo Mathews’ men.

There had been some spark from some of the Lankan players, but none of them could inspire a victory or two. Surely, the post-Mahela-and-Sangakkara-era was turning out to be a case of an ugly transition period and a turnaround from such a rut seemed to be an uphill task.

Such a sort of transition is nothing new for Sri Lanka.

After the likes of Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga left, under Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, Sri Lanka recovered very well. They were highly benefited by the services of Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, and Kumar Sangakkara. Mahela and Sangakkara elevated themselves as leaders of men during that period and at the start of this decade, when Vaas and Murali left the scene, both of them acted as the guardian angel of the team to lift the Sri Lankans from another poor transition period.

Now, it was time for Mahela and Sangakkara to leave the scene. The responsibility was now on Angelo Mathews to carry on the legacy of the past masters. The task was not an easy one for him. He didn’t have the likes of Murali or Vaas in the bowling attack nor was he blessed with a young Mahela or Sanga. The old warhorse, Rangana Herath, whose gray hair and enlarged belly hinted of possible retirement, was his only trusted weapon. Yes, there was a Dinesh Chandimal and a Lahiru Thirimanna, but a Sri Lankan would not invest his faith in him.

Mathews’ going was tough. The defeats were hard to digest and tough to accept. The hope of conquering the transition period seemed to have diminished. Dark clouds of self-doubts overshadowed optimism.

In August 2016, the story is different. Mathews has conquered adversity to put Sri Lanka on the right track again.

By the virtue of Facebook, I have been privileged to meet and know the Sri Lankans well. One of the most striking things about them is, they don’t suffer from a superiority complex and whenever they face tough circumstances, they don’t get confused. They try to discover the solution to the problem rather than creating a pseudo-hype about the issue and build a wall of excuses. They work hard silently by maintaining their composure and thus, get out of the trouble without enough hassles.

They debate but don’t argue.

They are positive thinkers and not a bunch of pessimists.

The qualities of my Sri Lankan friends made me think that the Sri Lankan society and their cricket culture is built upon a unique work ethic which is, “keep quiet and work hard” and for which, their transition periods don’t exist long enough. The people out there take things sportingly and plan for the future rather than wasting time arguing about the bad results. They don’t chop and change but keep faith in their players.

Thankfully, the head coach of Bangladesh is a Sri Lankan.

Corruption is the part and parcel of the subcontinent and the Sri Lankan Cricket Board have been accused of such many times. But they have not taken Sri Lanka cricket to the doldrums. One should not forget, these Board Officials and the persons related to cricket are the products of this unique culture which teaches to build and not destroy.

Kusal Mendis, Kaushal Silva, Sandakan, Dilruwan Perea, Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, and Kusal Perera are the future and the likes of Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Rangana Herath have marshaled these young guns in a competent fashion so that they can carry on the legacy of Sri Lanka’s unique cricket culture.

It is expected, this young Sri Lankan team will reach the top once again within a short period of time.

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