Sri Lanka’s humble but vibrant cast of cricket scorers kept aside their books and pens and received a huge signal from none other than the country’s first Test captain Bandula Warnapura as they celebrated 15 years of progress for the first time at a ceremony held last week in Colombo.
The backstage keepers of every ball faced by cricketers in the country in effect turned a new page in their passion as Warnapura threw his weight behind them and recalled his first Test match when one of them, the late Claude de Silva, marked his first single against England at the historic Oval.
“My alliance with scorers goes back to my school days”, said Warnapura. “Move forward together as one with responsibility so that a new generation can take over and I hope your tribe will increase”.
Warnapura, who once served as Sri Lanka Cricket’s chief operations manager was back for good after serving the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a consultant for some years.
It was his maiden public function since returning and his drive was as undying as it used to be as he also recalled the country’s rise to a full-fledged Test playing nation.
“It was not about money then and great players like Sathasivam had none of it. But they paved the way for the country to move forward to what we are today”, said Warnapura.
The role played by cricket scorers has a history of passing off as mere file stuff especially in a cyber electronic age when television and giant-screen scoreboards overshadow the academics of the book.
But one of the scorers, Thushara Cooray, who can stand out as the pick for combining his surgical-like scoring with his craft for humour both at the same time showed just why he and his colleagues needed appropriate recognition.
“Cricketers can make or break records but we are the only people who can keep a record in-tact”, said Cooray after bagging the award for the Most Popular Scorer.
His long-time colleague, the evergreen and amiable Fazal Mohamed, pocketed the award for the Best Scorer while another, Sumith Gunawardena was adjudged the Scorer of the Year.
Retired batsman Tillekaratne Dilshan a popular figure among scorers and one of the most media-savvy cricketers was at hand to add sparkle and pressed the button to inaugurate a website for scorers.
From a small band of just five, the scorers have grown to over a hundred despite the many constraints they faced and have even formed their own trade union under the banner of Sri Lanka Cricket Scorers whose president is Chaminda de Silva.
They are a cut above most entities connected or related to cricket in the country and claim to play by the rules.
“In our association there is unity where the seniors encourage the juniors and we are able to be independent and run our own affairs”, said De Silva.
Even women have joined the ranks of scorers after passing the mandatory exams made possible through seminars and knowledge tests. They have also impressed a sponsor in telecommunication giant Mobitel.