The Shadow Boy By Ashane De Silva
It was said by almost everyone that life for Sri Lankan Cricket after the Great 800 will be tougher than they can imagine, No Mahela Jayawardena just handing the ball to Murali and telling him “here take a five wicket haul for me”. None of that will exist, and Cricket in Sri Lanka might disappear gradually. However After a dream 2014 year for Sri Lanka Cricket, I find myself diving into the archives of all that was said about Sri Lankan Cricket and finding how much was proven wrong. However nothing could have been proven wrong without Sri Lanka’s very own super Hero The Shadow Boy.
It all Starts with a boy from Kurunegala, who has watched the Great 800 torture the opposition for decades, having a desire to one day play for his country, and serve the nation like his Hero, this boy only had one thought and one thought only and gave everything for the hope of one day playing for his nation, and that dream came true. The Year is 1999 this boy who is now a man just finished playing along side his hero but can only take away one thought away from the experience, he realized the harsh reality which is that all that lies for him for the next decade is nothing more than being a shadow boy, he could have given up, he should have given up but he only had one aspiration in life and he went to England to play league cricket leaving a letter unveiling his eternal belonging to his country.
A covenant with his country implying his undivided loyalty and that if they ever need him that he will be there for them. Again, he is about to give up on his dream to play for his nation, and year after year his dream slowly fades. But then, the retirement of the one person stopping him from playing for his nation, for anyone a person stopping you in your tracks would be called a nemesis or a rival but for this man he is everything that is good about the Island, everything that has brought the Nation to its success, He is the Great 800, and all the Shadow Boy cares about is one day making the Nation and true champion proud. And he did.
The Shadow boy worked hard and true and turned into the Second best bowler on earth, and the Second best spin bowler to come out of the Island Nation. He is Rangana Herath, a humble, quiet and intelligent person who knows that when he remains away from the spotlight he can take away the hope and joy out of a whole nation, just ask New Zealand and now England with what looks like harmless and gentle left arm off spin. You wont hear much from Sri Lankans about the name Rangana Herath but he has been more instrumental in the success of Sri Lanka post 800 than Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Lasith Malinga, TM Dilshan, and Angelo Mathews.
Rangana Herath, A man who has got 225 Test Match wickets, 17 five wicket hauls, won Historic matches in South Africa, England, Australia, Bangladesh, UAE, and in front of his home crowd, Single Handedly saved his side from a knockout defeat in the World Cup twenty 20 in Bangladesh against New Zealand and given everything for his Nation in his elongated journey to serve his nation proud, but remains a man who has never won the Man of the Series Award, do you think the Cricket world does not respect him or is the Shadow Boy’s time yet to come.