The event was held at Sri Lanka High Commission in London, in the presence of UK dignitaries, the diplomatic corps and cricketing professionals among the British Sri Lankan community.
A warm welcome was extended to the team by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the United Kingdom Manisha Gunasekera.
The reception commenced with the observation of two minutes’ silence in memory of the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.
In her welcome remarks, High Commissioner Gunasekera welcomed the Sri Lanka Cricket Team led by Captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Team Management led by Manager Ashantha de Mel, Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, Sri Lanka Cricket Representative in the UK Sarath Abeysundera, among others, and expressed the hope that the team’s performances would unite and inspire all Sri Lankans and hold the country high at a challenging time.
Apart from playing the game at its best, the High Commissioner commended Sri Lanka Cricket for its championing of sustainability, innovation and environmental conservation and the setting of a new global benchmark in performance wear by having the team’s Jerseys for this World Cup made out of recycled plastic sea waste from the Sri Lankan coast, by the country’s leading apparel manufacturer of international repute and official clothing sponsor of the team, MAS Holdings.
The High Commissioner also thanked Sri Lanka Cricket for endorsing the Commonwealth ‘Peace at the Crease’ initiative, which uses cricket as a tool to promote peace, reconciliation and sustainability throughout the Commonwealth family of nations. She applauded the remarkable achievement of Sri Lanka’s cricketing legend Kumar Sangakkara being appointed as the first non-British President of MCC this year, which is a matter of great pride for the British Sri Lankan community. While wishing the team the very best at the Cricket World Cup, the High Commissioner also acknowledged the contribution of former Sri Lankan cricketers Asitha Jayaweera, Flavian Aponso, Dileepa Wickramasinghe, Keerthi Ranasinghe, Gihan Herath towards the development of cricket in the UK and Europe, as well as that of Tharindu Perera who is now Head coach of the Yorkshire Women’s Cricket Team.
Lord Haselhurst, President of the All-Party Parliamentary Cricket Group; The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth; The Rt Hon Lord Naseby, President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka; Geoffrey Van Orden, Conservative Member of the European Parliament for East England and Chair of the Friends of Sri Lanka in the European Parliament; and Ashantha De Mel, Manager of the Sri Lankan Cricket Team also addressed the gathering. They collectively wished the Sri Lanka cricket the very best in the ICC World Cup. Lord Naseby in his remarks referred to his close and longstanding association with Sri Lanka’s cricketing history including the gaining of test status, as well as the achievements of Sri Lanka Cricket since.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation by Captain Dimuth Karunaratne of a cricket bat autographed by the Sri Lanka Cricket Team for the ICC World Cup 2019 to the Commonwealth Secretary General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, as an endorsement of the ‘Commonwealth Peace at the Crease’ initiative. Secretary General Scotland greatly appreciated the generous gesture by Sri Lanka Cricket towards the ‘Commonwealth Peace at the Crease’ project, which would support this worthy endeavour designed to promote unity, peace, co-existence and social harmony among the youth of all Commonwealth nations of the world through the game of cricket. The Secretary General reiterated that she would value and cherish the presentation.
UK dignitaries including Lord Howell of Guildford, Vicky Ford MP and Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cricket Group; Virendra Sharma MP; Rehman Chishti MP; Vice Marshall Neil Holland; High Commissioners and Ambassadors from the great cricketing nations, and the Worshipful Mayors of Harrow, Kingston and Havering, graced the occasion with their presence, among other distinguished guests and friends of Sri Lanka.