Ranil Abeynaike, Canucks and Cricket

One of the exciting aspects of cricket for me is the commentary. Over the years a very select few have tickled my fancy. My expectations are the same as any cricket enthusiast. A good command of the English Language, a thorough understanding of the game, unbiased views and a keen eye is sufficient to satisfy me.

The likes of Bill Lawry, Charles Colleville, Tony Grieg and from the Asian subcontinent the likes of Ravi Shastri, Sanjay manjrekar and Rameez Raja have kept me glued to the TV screens of late. A few however have represented Sri Lanka on international broadcasts and none deserve a mention. That’s not to say Sri Lanka did not have any fine commentators of the game, I was blessed enough to have heard my former neighbour Skandakumar in action and Aubrey Ebert, two fine commentators who never hit the international stage.

However, it now appears that international broadcasters have finally realised that there is more to cricket commentary in Sri Lanka than just Ranjith Fernando. I have no malice towards Mr. Fernando, but years of hearing Ranjith stating the obvious and not being able to get his thoughts in sequence fast enough to construct a sentence, has worn out the mute button on my remote control.

This post is not about Ranjith or my preference in commentators, it is to laud the arrival of Sri Lanka’s finest commentator ever.

Ranil Abeynaike without an iota of doubt is the finest English language cricket commentator Sri Lanka has ever produced. His knowledge of Sri Lankan Cricket and the game in general is refreshing. Apart from Cricket commentary, Ranil is also a columnist for the Sunday Times. In last week’s entry he wrote of his departure to Canada and his appointment as a commentator for the T20 series in Canada. In the same column, he goes on to reminisce how passionate Cricket fans were back in the day. How they were glued to their Short Wave radios to tune into Ashes Cricket commentary. He also touches on the plight of associate cricket nations struggling to find some normalcy.

A few excerpts of the article can be found below, click here for the article in full.

On his departure to Canada

The Canada Cup, as this twenty over tournament the Sri Lankan team is playing in was organized in a rush when the Champions trophy got called off. Not being a test playing nation Canada is not in a position to make arrangements to conduct a tour of this nature. It is an event organizer who has taken over that responsibility. That company has to sublet each of the arrangements to another professional organization and so it is non stop action when all has to be done within a few weeks. My job as a commentator was confirmed only ten days ago! The e-ticket to fly reached me less than ten hours before the flight! The bags were packed thereafter and the journey half way across the world commenced. How much the world has progressed since they shot the movie “Around the world in eighty days”, some fifty years ago!! In less than twenty four hours the destination, Toronto, was reached.

On Television’s impact on Cricket and Sri Lanka’s passion for the game.

Many men used to glue their ears on to the big radios to the voices of John Arlott, Brian Johnston. Lindsay Hassett, Alan McGilvray and others who used to describe those Ashes battles. When a father is such a devout follower of the game, then the sport gets into the blood of a four or five year old. He does not have to be a participant or former participant, the keenness and enthusiasm is good enough an influence. That situation has changed now. Youngsters have the opportunity to follow the fortunes of the national team and all other international teams thanks to television. That is a huge advantage, with the game being brought to the doorstep. On the reverse side it does not make you desperate to have it. It is there and so much of it, maybe even an excess, so why bother? The radio and the Ashes, was the only way then and it simply could not be missed. The coverage started early in the morning when played in Australia and when played in England the games went late into the night. This meant the entire household gets affected!

On Canada’s development, or the lack of it.

Let us not forget that Canada played in the first World Cup in 1975, with Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had the men to take them on from strength to strength. Canada did not and they are in the same position they were thirty three years ago. So it is difficult for any nation to get close to the major playing nations. A few generations must absorb the sport before successful candidates emerge, to get on to the world stage.

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  1. Saliya Ahangama is the best
    Saliya Ahangama is the best Sri Lankan cricket commentator. Ranil is better than Ranjith but not as good as Saliya. What happened to him? If he is still around then Sri Lanka need him back. He was brilliant in 1999 during the World Cup. He and Ranil will be ideal.


  2. An excellent read, Hilal –
    An excellent read, Hilal – it’s funny, I used to press the mute button also when ever Ranjith Fernando was commentating – like you said he keeps stating the obvious and repeats the word “purely” upteen times: its rather annoying!

    Yes, agree, Ranil Abeynayake is the best english language commentator we have – he’s witty, knowledgeable about the history of cricket, pitches and definitely streets ahead of his Indian counterparts Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar who can be a bit biased and a tad boring but Sanjay Manjrekar is a fine commentatator.

    I, too, used to listen to the ‘Ashes’ on SW radio as a kid in the early 80’s as my father was a past cricketer and I used to keenly observe his excitement when listening to the ‘Ashes’; whether day or night in SL wasn’t an issue: ‘Ashes’ commentary was always on shortwawe radio. Ah, those were the days! I guess I got the bug from him.

    Radio commentary of those days (80’s) were more exciting than some of the mundane stuff dished out live on TV of the modern era. In my opinion, Christopher Martin Jenkins was the best radio commentator ever – absolutely fantastic.

    In the present day and age, commentary of David “Bumble” Lloyd, Ian Chappell, Bill Lawry and Rameez Raja and are a notch above the rest!

    Hats off to Skandakumar, Aubry Ebert and Lucian Wijesinghe of yesteryear – they were awesome.

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