World Cup hero Aravinda extols virtues of Red Bull Campus Cricket

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lankan batting legend and former national selector Aravinda de Silva says that he is a firm believer in Red Bull Campus Cricket and all its key elements, especially how it vitally demonstrates to young, aspiring players that they can simultaneously pursue cricket and education. “I think it provides a great opportunity for university kids. If you look at them as a group, at this stage they are dedicated towards education so reaching out to them and giving them an opportunity in the recreation sector to do something they love is very special,” de Silva explained. “In the long run it will help develop the game because you are telling youngsters you can focus on education and sports, which will give them a good future.” The Red Bull Campus Cricket competition pits universities and private educational institutes from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, the UK, Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and Bangladesh against each other in Twenty20 battle. Presently, the Sri Lankan leg of qualifiers is under way with a host of quarterfinals due to be contested on February 25 at the Malay Grounds, before semifinals at the same venue on February 26, and the local finals at the SSC on February 27. The winner of the Sri Lankan leg will then be sent to the United Kingdom, where they will confront foreign counterparts in a bid to enter the Red Campus Cricket World Finals and run away with the prized trophy and monumental bragging rights. The Lankan middle order batting maestro, who famously guided Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996, graced last year’s Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals- the second of its kind- which were held at the Premadasa Stadium, and was left thoroughly entertained. “Last year’s event was great. There was a lot of enthusiasm and the energy was amazing, you could see the competition was very popular. The international talent on display was also really high. I remember earlier on in my career, playing against campus teams at the club level, it was a part of the game I really enjoyed. “If you look around the world it is something that is given a lot of importance, even teams from Cambridge and Oxford playing first class cricket. I think the next step for us in Sri Lanka to look at would be to form a combined university team which can play Division One cricket,” he said. A spectacular dimension to this year’s Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament, which also saw the debut of South Africa and West Indies to the competitive fray, is its venue, the KIA Oval, one of international cricket’s most celebrated stadiums. “For the finalists to go to the Kennington (KIA) Oval and be able to play there will also be something tremendously special for them. As a child it is a dream to play at such a major cricket venue. Personally, it was a special moment when I got to play at the Kennington Oval and one which I will cherish for the rest of my life. So it will be a similar opportunity for these youngsters and one they too will remember for a very long time in their lives,” the batting great remarked. For more information on the competition and some of its diverse participants visit Schedule – Red Bull Campus Cricket: 25 February – Quarter Finals – Malay ground, 8:30am 26 February – Semi Finals – Malay ground, 8:30am 27 February – Finals (Championship game) – SSC Ground, 2:00pm