It has been over a decade but come boxing day, we mourn for the 30,000 lives lost in the devastating Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in 2004. Among the victims were top Sri Lankan cricketers who lost almost everything from family members to cricket gear.
A day we wished we could all forget
The mothers of Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Chandana were lucky to survive but Nuwan Zoysa’s maternal aunt and three relatives of Dilhara Fernando’s wife were among the dead.
Sanath Jayasuriya’s mother was out shopping in the Matara town and was badly injured when the waves hit the coastal city. Moreover, Upul Chandana’s mother was in shock witnessing one of her rescuers dragged away by the giant waves.
Upul Tharanga was in Colombo at the time of the Tsunami but his house was washed away. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal, currently ranked 9th among Test batsman had to run for his life before taking shelter on a hill.
“One of the uncles in our village, he came and saw for just five seconds and said ‘the tsunami has come as a devil’. He said to us ‘Please run with your children.’ He shouted to us. Then, we ran. Ran for, I think, 200-300 meters. Fortunately, there was a hill. So we ran to that hill and we stayed there. From there, we saw our home and everything going like foam,” said Chandimal (Cricbuzz).
With nothing left, Chandimal was forced to work his way through to give his family a stable life.
“My parents and my family and myself, we put a lot of hard work for me to become a player and a captain. The word is hard work,” he added.
Upul Tharanga loses his house
Meanwhile, Upul Tharanga was about to go home (Ambalangoda) when he was asked to remain in Colombo.
“At about 9.30 I got a call from my sister on my mobile and she said: ‘Where are you? Don’t come home! The sea has come on the land.’ People in Colombo were running around. Those days I stayed at my club, NCC, so I went there and went home on the 27th. Normally it takes 2½ hours from Colombo to my home. That day I left at eight in the morning and took the No 3 bus home. I got there at 5.15 and nothing was there,” said Tharanga to The Telegraph.
“Kumar Sangakkara helped me with finances and cricket. He gave me 50,000 rupees [about £400 by the exchange rate of the time] and some cricket bats and gloves, and he asked me about the situation back home and those kinds of things,” he added.
Pulina Tharanga is another first class cricketer who lost his mother to the 2004 Tsunami.
Pulina’s mother was pushed into a situation where she was forced to let go of one of her children as both Pulina’s sister and his brother clung onto her arm. She resisted the high-pressure wave but failed to save herself in the process.
Eventually, Pulina made it to the ICC U19 World Cup squad and hopes to make it to the national team in the near future.
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