After obtaining a venue clearance certificate from the health authorities and a green light from the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, MCA cricket got back on track on Saturday 11 July. A trial match adhering to all health precautions took place between two handpicked teams, one led by the incumbent President Rohana Dissanayake and the other, led by the current MCA General Secretary Sirosha Gunatillake.
MCA Tournament Committee Secretary Punnyakantha Abeygunasekera whilst picking the two teams invited several reputed mercantile cricketers such as, Trelleborg Lanka Shehan Perera, Hayleys Pramodh Fernando, SriLankan Airlines Nalaka de Zoysa, Waters Edge Santhush Gunatillake and two past MCA Presidents, Singer Mahesh Wijewardene and NDB Niran Mahawatte.
The MCA General Manager Wilmot Jayasinghe, who had earlier attended several meetings held by the Health Ministry of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs & SLC was the Venue Manager. Jayasinghe ensured that all players came in wearing their playing kits, carrying their personal gear and entered the pavilion via the entrance marked “Exit Only”, after hand sanitisation.
Before the play commenced, the two teams were housed in two separate marquees erected three feet away from the boundary, in front of the dressing rooms. The players used the dressing rooms only if they needed to use the toilets; an attendant stood on duty throughout at each of the toilets to sanitise it after each use.
The Officiating Umpires, Sena Nandiweera and Gamini Dissanayake from ACU briefed the two Captains on the new ICC health precautionary rules at the point of the coin toss. The match commenced at 10 am as a 20 overs a side game. MCA President’s XI who won toss and choose to bat, scored 146 runs in 20 overs (Namal Seneviratne 17, Shehan Perera 57, Pramod Fernando 15, Santhush Gunatillake 25, Duminda Pinto 4/19, Anush Perera 2/35, S. Gunatillake 2/25).
The General Secretary’s XI were not able to finish their innings due to the down pour that came down at 1.30 pm and were stranded at 131 for 6 in 17.3 overs and the match was abandoned without a result, with Tarindra Kaluperuma scoring 38 runs, Duminda Pinto 15, Chamari Perera 35 not out and Namal Seneviratne 2/28.
The players had lunch separately and went home via the door marked “Exit only”. As all went according to plan, on Saturday, MCA will now proceed with the remainder of their 2020 season - the “E”, “F” & “G” divisions (all 25 overs a side tournaments). The MCA Tournament Committee Chairman Tarindra Kaluperuma and his Committee planned to put the “E” division back on rails where it stopped on 14 March.
As their first step, they picked four venues for the tournament namely, D.S. Senanayake, Thurstan, Army Mattegoda and their own MCA. Then they called the Venue Managers of the three other grounds for a discussion on 8 July at the MCA Board Room, where all the details of health safely and precautionary matters were discussed at length.
The Managers were ensured that the full burden of all the additional costs that will incur will be borne by the MCA; an ambulance, doctor & attendant on standby. Sanitisation materials and labour, erecting of Marquees with furniture and maintaining a sick room etc.
The “E” division with 32 half day matches, including the final may get of the blocks during the week-end of 15 and 16 August, followed by “F” division, early September and finally the “G” division, in early October. The MCA Open “Sixes” and the masters “Sixes” will be sandwiched in between the three main tournaments.