Images: Tamil-Sinhala Confrontation at Toronto Cricket, Oct. 2008
Courtesy of an Anonymous Benefactor
In October 2008 four countries competed in a T-Twenty series for the Al-Barakah Trophy at Toronto: namely. Canada, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe and Canada comfortably, but lost to Pakistan in a thrilling game on 11 October [where they rested Mahela Jayawardene and Ajantha Mendis]. They defeated Pakistan in the final on 13th October, after restricting the latter to 132 for 5 wkts, a total they reached for the loss 5 wkts in 19 overs.The Lanka squad was made up of Jayawardene as captain, Dilshan as Vice-Capt and keeper, M. Udawatte, S. Jayasuriya, J. Mubarak, Jeevantha Kulatunga, Thilina Kandamby, C. Kapugedera, Kaushalya Weereratne, Lokuhettige Dilhara, Thilina Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekera, Farveez Maharoof, Dilhara Fernando.
One of the stars of the tourney was the mystery spinner, Ajantha Mendis, an army corporal and gunner and a Catholic lad from Moratuwa who had been recruited and mentored by the coach of the army’s cricketing team. Mendis had recently been instrumental in Sri Lanka’s victory over India at home in a Test series.
Mendis was specifically targeted in the propaganda operation mounted by the Tamil nationalists in the Toronto area who exercised their democratic rights to demonstrate against the Sri Lankan state. It can be safely assumed that they were encouraged and supported by LTTE networks. By this stage in October 2008 the LTTE military forces were on the retreat in the northern Vanni and the concerns of Sri Lankan Tamil patriots were rising, though they had not quite reached the fever-pitch displayed in early-mid 2009. As such, the virulence of protest was perhaps a degree or so lower than the world-at-large witnessed in 2009. The confrontations with Sri Lankan cricket followers enroute to the match seem to have been restricted to rude gestures from both sides, presumably with some verbal banter and abuse. I do not have detailed descriptions and make these remarks by reading the photographic images, original source unclear, that landed on my computer-desk. I would welcome anecdotal comments that provide further informaion about these episodes sent as comments here or direct to Michael.Roberts01@adelaide.edu.au
More information is welcomed. Michael Roberts