This piece was written by Martin Williamson in March 2012.
It still makes for a good read for cricket (and history) buffs:
On Wednesday, February 17, 1982, when Bob Willis bowled to Bandula Warnapura, Sri Lanka became cricket’s eighth Test-playing country. Minutes earlier, Warnapura had become the first Sri Lanka captain to win a toss; minutes later, he was their first batsman to be dismissed when he was taken high in the gully by David Gower off a Willis snorter for 2.
The match itself had been in preparation since the previous July, when the ICC had finally granted Sri Lanka Full Member status. That moment was more symbolic than the country arriving as a force in world cricket. Many regarded it as final confirmation of Sri Lanka’s importance and standing as an independent nation.
Cricket was in the nation’s blood. The first club had been formed 150 years earlier, and Sri Lanka had been a regular stop-off point for touring sides to Australia since Ivo Bligh broke his journey there in 1882-83. Scores of legendary players had played in Colombo.
In the seven months since the ICC decision, preparations had been made in anticipation of the match. More than £100,000 had been spent on modernising the Colombo Oval and building stands to take the capacity to more than 20,000. Ramshackle huts near the stadium were demolished and the 20 or so families who lived there rehoused. Other venues in Colombo, as well as Galle and Radella, had been renovated. In Kandy, the Asgiriya ground, the home of the Old Trinitians, had been doubled in size by removing part of a hill and then constructing a new pavilion.
By the time England arrived on February 5, straight from their tour of India, the preparations were in full swing. Banquets were being organised, special stamps and coins were issued, and businesses and shops were planning to shut on the first day of the Test. One local paper reported that even the police were likely to have one ear glued to the radio.
It took a while for SL to become a force in World cricket. But once they won the WC in 1996 they never looked back. They produced quite a few world beaters in quick time.
Though, the current side is a pale and sad shadow of its recent past. It better get cracking fast as this young inexperienced side excuse can only take you so far..