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Sri Lankan Cricket Legends Honoured

Abc of Cricket Exclusive Feature Cricket StoryBy Ken Piesse 23/01/03

World-renowned entertainer Kamahl, was the celebrity guest-of-honour as the Sri Lankan cricket community paid tribute to farewelling international Aravinda de Silva and champion spin bowler Muthiah Muralitharan in Moorabbin (south of Melbourne) last Saturday night.

Aravinda and Murali accepted presentations to the cheers of almost 700 guests at a Cricket Ball organised by the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria.

For Aravinda, 37, making his seventh and final tour of Australia, it was a particularly emotional night as he waved and thanked everyone for their support over two decades.

" Australia has been very, very dear to my heart ever since I first toured and played a season here with Prahran (in 1989-90)."

Aravinda received an inscribed silver platter for his unparalleled service to Sri Lankan cricket. With 20 years and almost 400 games service, Prahran president Ian Crawford described Aravinda as "the Bradman" of Sri Lankan batsmen.

Murali was also recognised when he received No.2 of the limited edition book, Don Bradman's The Art of Cricket from a Sydney based publisher. No.1 remains with the Bradman family.

Murali said he couldn't believe he'd been ranked, alongside The Don as the finest bowler of the last 100 years and it was the most wonderful honour of his headlining career.

Kamahl flew down from Sydney, his long-time base, especially for the event.

"The whole thing was a surprise. I didn't know I was going to be here until 24 hours ago," he said. "Dr Quintas de Zylva, who has done so much for Sri Lanka's cricketers asked me to make a surprise appearance."

Kamahl is the keenest of cricket fans and among his dearest possessions are dozens of Don Bradman letters. His proudest on-field cricketing moment came when he started one season, representing Collegians, with a hat-trick from his very first three deliveries. He was an off-spinner.

In a feature story about Aravinda and Sanath Jayasuriya for Inside Cricket this week, Kamahl said cricket and especially cricketers from Sri Lanka are dear to his heart.

"Whenever Sri Lanka plays Australia I have mixed emotions, my parents are from Sri Lanka, the northern most part and I have very strong feelings for anything Sri Lankan," he said.

Also among the distinguished guests were the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, the entire Sri Lankan team and many past Sri Lankan players now living in Melbourne.

Article provided exclusively to Abc of Cricket by Cricket Week.

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