Jaffna Stallions’ CEO Ananthan Arnold (middle) in conversation with the team’s overseas signing Shoaib Malik. COO Paven Savuntharasa is also in the picture.
With most cricket playing nations initiating a franchise based tournament in their calendar, Sri Lankan cricket was left stranded for years not being able to start something of their own. However, with the launch of Lanka Premier League, there was a shot in the arm. Interest for franchise ownerships were mostly shown by Indian and Pakistani business entities. Jaffna Stallions’ ownership though is different.
Anandan Arnold, who played cricket for St. John’s, Jaffna is the founder CEO of Jaffna Stallions and leading investor. Canadian born Rahul Sood, who now lives in Seattle is a major co-owner in the consortium which also consists of Sri Lankan expatriates living in the UK, Canada, Australia and Europe. The owners are multi-ethnic, multi-faith Sri Lankans of diverse backgrounds.
Jaffna Stallions are also the most organized franchise in the competition. While most franchises were putting through the logistics in the 11th hour, according to Thisara Perera, the captain of the team, all his players were taken to Kandy for a five-day residential training camp. While no doubt the training camp helped develop skills it also enabled the team to bond well.
The franchise has a formidable outfit. Their fast bowlers – Suranga Lakmal, Duanne Olivier, Kyle Abbott and Usman Shinwari are good enough to form the nucleus of any international side.
But the franchise has not forgotten the development of young talent as well and hence they have picked a few uncapped players – from north and south – Sebastianpillai Vijeyaraj, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Kanagarathinam Kabilraj, Theivendram Dinoshan and Nuwanidu Fernando.
Among the four youngsters Viyaskanth had an impressive debut last week but there is another exciting talent in Vijeyaraj, who bowls like Lasith Malinga. He has been nicknamed ‘Killinochchi Express.’
Viyaskanth was the talk of the town as he debuted last week. His line and length were impeccable and the leg-spinner foxed Angelo Mathews of all players. His efforts came in for high praise from all and sundry – both team mates and opposition.
The Stallions are the in form side in the competition as they recorded four straight wins while the others were playing catch up. For the fifth game, with a slot in the semi-final certain, the team rested four of their front line players and gave a break to some others. If they continue to rotate players, that will be a good idea as well as when the business end of the tournament comes along, the leading players will be fresh and raring to go.
The team’s motto is to be a cricket club that provides a pathway to excellence for local and national athletes. They have made huge strides in the LPL and don’t be surprised if they win the maiden title for they say, ‘well begun is half done.’