Young cricketers can stay plugged into the sport with Campus Cricket, says Mahanama

Thursday, 30 August 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Tournaments such as Red Bull Campus Cricket can help university-age cricketers stay active in the sport, while they juggle studies and fledgling professional careers, says former Sri Lanka batsman, and ex-ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama, who believes too many young cricketers quit the sport after finishing school, because of a lack of cricket tournaments and opportunities for sportspeople aged 18 to 23. 

He says many promising cricketers are lured away from the sport by other career prospects, and are unwilling to wait around for a spot on a senior team. 

Mahanama is a Goodwill Ambassador for this year’s Campus Cricket World Final, in which six teams from around the world play in a week-long tournament held in Colombo from 23 to 29 September. 

“Campus Cricket has been running for six years, and I thought this is one of the areas we need to support, because in Sri Lanka we lose a lot of cricketers from ages 18 to 23,” Mahanama says. 

“We don’t have proper tournaments for them, and we scrap those age-group competitions. It’s a career choice for many of these players, and parents are also involved in these decisions, and sometimes it’s easier to pursue another career and stop playing cricket. If we can encourage them to continue playing the game, that’s a good thing.”

Although cricketers in Sri Lanka are particularly likely to quit sports soon after leaving school, largely because the domestic system does not cater for the many young players who are not yet ready to graduate to first-class cricket, nations around the world are trying to tackle the problem of losing promising sportspeople in their university years.

“The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) together with the England Cricket Board are also trying to fund and support university cricket in the UK for the same reason,” Mahanama said. “We need to look at keeping players in university, because sport teaches a lot, and the chances of young people going astray if they are occupied by sports is minimum.”

Mahanama also hopes that the young cricketers’ involvement in Campus Cricket will help instill values that will assist them elsewhere in life – values such as respect for others and discipline. 

“I watched some of the Sri Lankan Campus Cricket matches earlier in the year, and I was struck by how competitive these guys are. Tournament director Brendon Kuruppu told me it had been getting more competitive every year. So while giving them an opportunity to play cricket, it would be ideal to give them a taste of the discipline you require, as well as having codes in place like you do in top-level cricket.

“But overall, I thought this was a good cause and I needed to come forward. It’s a great initiative to get players combining their studies and sport as well.”