By Hilal Suhaib
Under-19 cricketers from Ontario, Canada are poised to create history, becoming the first club team from North America to tour Sri Lanka. For four of the fourteen teens, touring to the island will be a momentous occasion, as they return to the country of their ancestry.
The Ontario Cricket Academy’s under-19 cricket team will become the first club team from North America to tour Sri Lanka, when they depart Toronto on March 2 for a two week tour to the island.
The team from Southern Ontario are scheduled to compete against top under-19 school teams in Sri Lanka, district teams, the Sanath Jayasuriya Cricket Foundation eleven and the Asoka de Silva Cricket Academy eleven.
“It will be challenging adapting to the extreme weather conditions in Sri Lanka, coming from our winter,” the head coach and director of the academy Derek Perera said, speaking of the challenges that lay ahead of the young cricketers who hail from conditions as cold as -30 degrees Celsius.
“Our team is very skilled and talented, so I expect them to adapt quickly and be very competitive,” Perera added.
33-year-old Perera, who is of Sri Lankan descent, founded the Academy in 2002 while still a student at York University. Nine years later, the Academy has produced six cricketers who have represented Canada at the youth level.
Former Canadian under-15 player Abhi Vaishnav will lead the Academy on the historic tour.
“We have been preparing at our indoor centre for the last few months and we are thrilled to be playing against such good opposition,” Vaishnav said, adding that his team was excited by the prospect of visiting the island.
For four members of the touring party, the tour will be more than just another overseas tour – the team has toured the West Indies on two previous occasions with remarkable success.
Jonathan Alexander, Rajiv Sivanesan, Vidura Ratnayake and Umashankar Gopalasundaram are all of Sri Lankan descent and are ecstatic at the prospect of touring Sri Lanka.
“This tour is very special to me because I am going back to my motherland, where I first fell in love with the game,” explained Alexander.
For Gopalasundaram, who moved to Canada in 2001, going back to Sri Lanka as a cricketer has realised his childhood dreams.
“I went to Tamil Vidyalayam in Dehiwala. We didn’t have a cricket team in our school but I always wanted to play cricket for Sri Lanka, so now it’s a dream come true to represent one of the best teams in Canada and play against some of the best teams in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Squad: Abhi Vaishnav (Captain), Darren Ramsammy (Vice Captain), Azeem Ali, Hassam Ali, Jonathan Alexander, Rishi Kanjani, Rajiv Sivanesan, Vidura Ratnayake, Tarandeep Singh, Jasjeet Kalsi, Umashankar Gopalasundaram, Waleed Ahmed.
This article first appeared on Island Cricket. It is republished here with permission from the source.