Sri Lanka’s unique and incredible cricket history – interview with author Nicholas Brookes

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Sri Lanka’s unique and incredible cricket history – interview with author Nicholas Brookes

In the latest episode we talk to author and journalist Nicholas Brookes about his recent book An Island’s XI: The Story of Sri Lankan Cricket.

We talk about Nicholas’ journey in learning about different aspects of Sri Lankan cricket and touch upon some of the key themes in the book – the early ‘whistle-stop tours’, yearning for Test status, the massive victory against India in 1979, the aura of Satha, Opatha and the rebel tourists, Arjuna, Aravinda, Sanath, Murali – and the politics that has never been too far from the game in Sri Lanka.

Buy Cricket Beyond the Bazaar (recently republished by 81allout)

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For the rest – please check your country-specific Amazon pages.

Talking Points:

  • The class structure in Sri Lankan cricket and how school’s cricket is so fundamental to cricket on the island
  • Grace, Hobbs, Bradman, Sobers, Worrell – just some of the illustrious early visitors to Ceylon
  • M Sathasivam – the charm of the cricketer, the mystique around the man, the tragedy of an accusation
  • Sri Lanka’s victory over India in the 1979 World Cup – the final lap in the journey towards Test status
  • The ‘rebels’ who visited South Africa and the cloud that hung over the tourists
  • The chaotic years leading up to the 1996 World Cup triumph
  • Aravinda de Silva – everyman one minute, spectacular artist the next
  • The evolution of Sanath Jayasuriya leading up to 1996
  • A conversation in Peshawar: when Saqlain spoke to Murali about his doosra
  • Arjuna Ranatunga standing up for Murali and the acrimony of the 1995 tour
  • The complexity of the Murali story – the politics, the cricket, and the man himself


Nicholas Brookes (@brookeswites)

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee)

Mahesh Sethuraman (@cornerd)



The story of De Saram and Satha: batting geniuses who went to jail – Nicholas Brookes – The Cricket Monthly

In Colombo, three is not a crowd – Nicholas Brookes and Benjamin Golby – The Cricket Monthly

A Murder in Ceylon: The Sathasivam Case – Prof Ravindra Fernando – Amazon

When Sri Lanka went to cuckoo land – Luke Alfred – ESPNcricinfo

Growing up with Murali – Andrew Fidel Fernando – The Cricket Monthly

When Murali bared his soul – Vithushan Ehantharajah – The Cricket Monthly

War Minus the Shooting – Mike Marqusee – Amazon

The lost boys of Jaffna – Andrew Fidel Fernando – The Cricket Monthly

The Unforgiven: Missionaries or Mercenaries? The Tragic Story of the Rebel West Indian Cricketers Who Toured Apartheid South Africa – Ashley Gray – Amazon

The Unforgiven – Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on the West Indies rebels – ESPNcricinfo

‘In some ways, a TV director plays God’ – Hemant Buch – 81allout podcast

‘A golden age of watching Test cricket in Sri Lanka’ – 81allout podcast with Andrew Fidel Fernando



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