Rustic Roots of Talent: Cricket and Otherwise

Michael Roberts

The presence of Lahiru Madushanka in Sri Lanka’s Squad for South Africa[1] has also highlighted his origins in the deep southeast of Sri Lanka after Chaminda Vaas spotted his prospects.[2] In seeking more information about his roots within Facebook I chanced upon another vein of ‘gold’ on the manner in which personnel from indigent circumstances in distant rural areas within Sri Lanka – whether north, south, east or central highland – have circumvented the tyranny of distance and poverty to improve their circumstances.

This has been a story of many tales from the early nineteenth – repeat early nineteenth century, a story that gathered numbers and momentum in the mid-twentieth century as free education, the improving transport system and universal franchise widened the processes that encouraged economic advancement for families who were disadvantaged.

In Madushanka’s case my search produced another example: one Udara Rathnayake from Madushanka’s home locality of Hungama. In serving up detailed data on Madushanka, Rathnayake inadvertently displayed his own process of self-improvement.

Take Madushanka first: he is actually from a section of Hungama adjacent to the sea which is known as known as “Gurupokuna” — where his father had a small shop. Rathanyaka, Madushanka and his brothers schooled at the Hungama Vijayaba National Schoolwhere the principal focus was on volleyball. However, circa 2006 a small corps of old boys had initiated the Vijayaba Cricket Club and it seems that this ‘groundwork’ has provided the ‘dividend’ we now identify as Lahiru Madushanka.

As it happens, in giving us this information as a product of the same school from an older cohort, Rathnayaka inadvertently displays another process of self-improvement, one pursued by many men and women over the past ninety years in Sri Lanka: the acquisition of an education, and the capacity to write in competent English as one dimension of this education. So, stand up UDARA, as I present your Facebook entry as witness to me argument.

 Rathnayaka on Facebook, 14th November 2020:

Sir, Hungama Vijayaba National School is our school which is located in Hungama town which belongs to Ambalantota zonal educational area. Nearly 2500 students are studying there while, school was commenced in the 1930s. One of the leading schools in Hambantota district except Weeraketiya Central schools. Whether, it is a national school, the lack of facilities has become an obstacle to the talented students. The school is more popular for the national game, “Volley Ball”. Annually, dedicated coaches and players brought the victorious medals and cups from DSI super sport volleyball competition, National volleyball competitions etc. I cannot remember the exact year, nearly in 2008 or 2009 Vijayaba college titled as the volleyball school in the particular year. Meanwhile, Not only for the sports, students show their talents in educational field as well. beginning of 2000s, Cricket mania was scattered in the school but the lack of facilities and sponsorship reduced the motivation of the students. Though, nearly in 2006, a group of old boys re-established the Vijayaba Cricket club and started practices for the upcoming school students. Due to their dedication, some of my friends played for the national level cricket clubs and the university cricket clubs too. I think, Dilshan Madushanka his name and his elder brother was 2 years younger than me, therefore I saw, Dilshan madushanka in his primary grades.

Hungama is close to the sea, therefore fishery is the main occupation of the people. Madushanka lives in “Gurupokuna”, a small village much closer to sea. His father owns a small shop in the area and madushanka and his two brothers needs and wants were fulfilled from his father’s commitment. Madushanka started his cricket career in his little ages and Mr. Ilangarathna, one of young and talented Vijayaba old boys was his cricket coach while Vijayaba cricket upgraded with his dedication and commitment. lack of facilities not having proper cricket equipment became the worst problem. We had a large cricket ground which was not in a good condition to play cricket due to the soil erosion in rainy days. These young players only had motivation, dedication, commitment and practice. Madushanka played for the  under 19 mens’ world cup for Sri Lanka and at present he has chossen for the LPL. (lanka premier league)


Looking at the Google Maps I discovered that /Hungama is halfway between the towns of Tangalla and Hambantota ……………


……..  and, evidently, Gurupokuna is a locality to its south adjacent to the coast. As it happened, my family holidayed in that area in early 2018. On a trip to Hambantota we took in the sights at Kirinde where a rock formation and adjacent temple overlooking the seas serve as an attractive tourist spot. As I explored the area with our tour guide Samaranayake, lo and behold we came across a couple of young lads playing tennis ball cricket. Cricket in the boondocks, yes. ….. a sight to inspire my teaching and coaching instincts.

Samaranayake captured this instinct at ‘work’: a straight bat is a vital ingredient in the batting art. That is WHAT I am seeking to inculcate in this snap. But it is continuous coaching that deepens talent as long as the talent has determination and opportunity in support.

I would seem that Madushanka possessed those attributes; ……………while Udara Rathnayaka has other attributes which, I hope, will pan out well.


[1] A squad which includes another from Hambantota District in Suranga Lakmal.



Filed under democratic measures, economic processes, education, education policy, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, modernity & modernization, performance, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

2 responses to “Rustic Roots of Talent: Cricket and Otherwise

  1. Bill Deutrom

    Great story Michael. The conditions in most of these.govt. rural schools are disgraceful. Vaas is good at picking talent and always ready to help the youngsters. He has helped me out in Aus.when I needed a SL cricketer to open cricket nets at Brookfield. Others who said they would do it refused and
    Chaminda saved the day. A really decent guy and a superb cricketer.

  2. EMAIL NOTE from NIHAL DE ALWIS of Kalahe and Richmond College, 11 January 2020:
    “I was the Officer In Charge of Hungama Police in 1964. I remember this
    very insignificant school. In fact when I reportedly took over, this
    police station had no electricity. It had a few bottle lamps & I
    decided to summon the VIP residents the Postmaster, the PWD overseer,
    the GM of the Co-operative stores and persuaded them to present three
    Petromax lamps, saying that they should be ashamed of the bottle
    lamps,being residents. This place was full of crime, like unsolved
    murders,almost two or three a week. It was an uphill task for me .It
    was an interesting experience with only four years in the Police.”

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