The Sunday Leader

Sri Lankan Cricketers Association Launches Fund To Support Former Players

Members of the ’96 Champion team and SLCA officials

The Sri Lankan Cricketers’ Association (SLCA) announced its commitment to assist former cricketers who brought glory to the nation with the launching of a special Benevolent Fund which was initiated by the 1996 World Champion Team.

The newly formed Trust with initial funds amounting to nearly Rs. 4 million were raised through various initiatives by SLCA together with the 1996 Cricket World Cup winning team and will be used to assist past cricketers financially in times of medical emergency or any other urgent need.

The appointed Trustees include three nominated members of the ‘96 Team namely Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha and Pramodya Wickramasinghe in addition to SLCA Ex Officio members – Graeme Labrooy, President, Ken De Alwis, General Secretary and Priyantha Udayaratne, Treasurer.

Speaking on the occasion, member of the ’96 World Cup team and trustee Roshan Mahanama said they have no intention to be recognized by SLC or ICC in the future, “We started this in 2012 together with Hemas when we sponsored about 240 kids for five years to uplift their education. Now, this fund is dedicated to the past cricketers, we owe so much to cricketers before our era who have helped us in many ways. Some cricket governing bodies do not accept Cricketers Associations’ and our sole aim is to be a guiding hand in times of need, nothing else.”

Requests for support and financial assistance from the fund should be made through a member of the ’96 World Cup winning team or a member of the SLCA, which is headed by former fast bowler, Graeme Labrooy. The Trustees will screen the requests, approve, allocate the sum and the SLCA will then disburse the funds to the recipients within 48 hours of approval.

“It burns my heart to see the state of some of our former cricketers who advised us those days. Our duty and focus is to assist former players not the current players in this generation. We need the support of the current players to sustain this project because they will be past cricketers one day,” said the legendary Aravinda de Silva – the man of the match in the 1996 World Cup final and current Chairman of the SLC Cricket Committee.

Throughout 2016, the SLCA in collaboration with the 1996 Cricket World Cup Champions organized a series of events in Sri Lanka and Australia to raise funds for this project.

“We have always been together as a family since our triumph in 1996 and for this initiative also, everyone came forward without any hesitation. In Australia, the team had a 10-day stay, played two T20s and attended two functions to raise funds.” Former Sri Lanka no.3 batsman said Asanka Gurusinha.

The first beneficiaries of the Past Cricketers Benevolent Fund, A.J Samarasekara and Russell Hamer received their financial assistance from the members of the ’96 World Cup winning team members at the occasion.

Russell Hamer was one of the finest wicketkeepers produced by Sri Lanka and it was a pity that he played in the pre-test era because he didn’t get the chance to perform on the international stage. His lightning quick leg side stumping after a prearranged signal with the fast bowlers were an absolute treat as was his lusty blows with the long handle whilst batting. An entertainer par excellence he kept everyone in good cheer with his sharp wit and was never afraid to call things as he saw them.

Samarasekera, who turns 60 on January 10th, played club cricket for Old Antonians SC and Tamil Union for over two decades.

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