Members of the New Zealand and Bangladesh teams trained with 12 players from the runner-up teams of the Murali Harmony Cup
For 12 players from Central College of Anuradhapura and Maliyadeva College of Kurnegala cricket teams, today was a big day in their lives.
The chosen 12 from the two teams which finished runner-up at the recently concluded Murali Harmony Cup got an opportunity of a lifetime to train with cricketers of New Zealand and Bangladesh at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
The Foundation of Goodness, a charity set up by Kushil Gunasekara with Muttiah Muralidaran as the chief trustee, in association with the International Cricket Council, and supported by the Sri Lankan Army and Red Dot Tours organised the Murali Harmony Cup in the North of Sri Lanka. The tournament, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena.
This morning New Zealand’s Nathan McCullum, Kane Williamson, BJ Watling and bowling coach Damien Wright took the 12 boys, in the age-group of 16-19, under their wings for an hour.
The boys were put through a grueling fielding drill which involved hitting the stump as a target, taking high catches and even had a small contest. The contest involved taking catches and hitting the target in one motion. The winner of this contest even received a cap from Nathan McCullum. The 12 boys enjoyed themselves as they got compliments from the New Zealand players.
Later, Nathan McCullum praised the boys: “Its always good to get out and help the local boys whenever you can. I was impressed there were some good young kids there. They were pretty enthusiastic and they loved it. It was impressive so it was good fun. Hopefully they enjoyed and got something out of it as well.’’
For Williamson too it was a great day out. “These boys are very talented. They took some very difficult catches and made it look easy. There is no doubt that there is a lot of talent there which will hold them good stead in the future. I certainly enjoy working with that age-group and with talented players,’’ said Williamson.
Later in the afternoon, Bangladesh’s Jahurul Islam, Junaid Siddique, Farhad Reza and Abul Hasan along with fielding coach Jason Swift and spin bowling consultant Saqlain Mushtaq put the boys through the paces. This session was as much for the 12 boys as they listened attentively to instructions from Swift.
The four Bangladesh players too took time out to warm-up with the boys. The session ended with the boys breaking into different groups with the four Bangladesh players, Saqlain and Swift. This was a one-on-one session which involved sharing of experience with the boys.
Jahurul Islam was particularly thrilled to be part of this activity on Wednesday. “At this age to get an opportunity like this is a big moment for these boys. I am sure they would have learnt a lot from this. I am sure the next generation of Bangladesh cricketers will get to play some of these players.’’