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Cricket began to develop in Sri Lanka once the process of British colonisation was completed in the early 1800s. The earliest reference to the game in Sri Lanka was reported in the "Colombo Journal" on 5 September 1832 which was when the formation of a cricket club was recorded. The Colombo cricket club was formed soon after in November 1832 and played its first cricket match against the 97th British Regiment. Although the domestic first-class system was set up in 1937-38 it was not until 1981 that Sri Lanka became the eighth Test playing country (playing its inaugural Test the following year in Colombo against England).
After winning just four games out of 26 during the first five ICC Cricket World Cup tournaments, the next edition brought forth the most unlikely winner of a major international cricket tournament thus far. Sri Lanka's victory over Australia in the 1996 final was the climax to an outstanding competition for Arjuna Ranatunga's men. Sri Lanka has since reached the final twice, when Australia exacted its revenge in West Indies in 2007 and India lifted its first World Cup in 28 years in 2011. It was also joint-winners, with India, in the ICC Champions Trophy on home soil in 2002. Sri Lanka's participation in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 flattered to deceive as it was knocked out in the Super Eights. In subsequent editions, it lost twice after making it to the final (in 2009 and 2012), before finally winning its first title by overcoming India in 2014. Sri Lanka continues to be a tough nut to crack on the Test circuit - particularly at home.
A domestic first-class tournament began in 1937-38 as the Daily News Trophy and has since undergone five changes in name to reach its current guise of the Premier Trophy. Ten sides compete in each of two tiers, with Sinhalese SC historically the most successful team. The main one-day competition in Sri Lanka is the Premier Limited-Overs Tournament which began in 1988 and has existed under three different names. Finally, there is an Interprovincial Twenty20 tournament, contested between six teams.
It would be fruitless for any would-be cricketer to aspire to play the game like Muttiah Muralidaran - the Sri Lankan is inimitable. Nominally an off-spinner, the number of variations at his disposal make him difficult to define - which is why batsmen around the world continue to flail against the now veteran. "Murali" played his part in Sri Lanka's biggest team success - the 1996 World Cup - but his individual feats have largely eclipsed anything the side has achieved since. After tussling with Shane Warne for the title of leading Test wicket-taker, the Sri Lankan moved out in front, after the leg-spinner's retirement, to finish with 800 career wickets. Muralidaran then became the highest wicket-taker in ODIs as well when he went past Wasim Akram's record of 502 wickets in 2009. If that wasn't enough he was a worthy hitter down the order.
Although Sri Lanka women only played its first recognized international match just over a decade ago, in 1997, it has already run up a fair tally of one-day internationals, appeared in several ICC Cricket World Cups, and even played in a Test, a form of women's cricket which is increasingly less common. It owes much to Gwen Herath - the former president of the WCA of Sri Lanka - for her administration in the days before the men's board took over in 2005. In 2007, the ICC's High Performance Manager, Richard Done, created a further improvement strategy for Sri Lankan women's cricket, including introducing a schools-based competition. The aim was to increase its performances at such tournaments as the Asia Cup - where it has regularly made the final - and the 2009 World Cup, although it failed to win a match.