By Rex Clementine
Chanaka Silva, the heartbeat of the press box during cricket matches passed away on Thursday after a heart-attack. He was 40.
When Sri Lanka Cricket introduced its media department under the dynamic leadership of Chandrishan Perera, Chanaka joined the unit as Media Assistant in 1999 straight after school. He served the cricket board for 22 years and was friendly with journalists both from here and overseas.
Britain’s leading broadsheet Guardian had sent their cricket correspondent David Hopps to cover Shane Warne’s comeback series in Sri Lanka in 2004 after his drug ban. Hopps missed Warne’s 500th wicket in Galle because he had gone across the road to buy a toy duck for Chanaka’s child. He was so popular among cricket writers. Chanaka leaves two children behind.
His death was moaned by Lawrence Booth, the Editor of Wisden, Anand Vasu, leading cricket writer from India and others all over the world. Sri Lanka greats Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene too sent messages of condolences. Chanaka was so popular and never missed a cricket match in Sri Lanka.
Chanaka loved cricket and Sri Lanka Cricket. Not many people love both entities. Due to his friendliness with media, there was a misconception among certain authorities that Chanaka was leaking information. The truth, however, is far from it. He loved cricket and he loved SLC even more.
Chanaka also had a great sense of humour. On a dull day of Test cricket, he would keep the press box entertained with his jokes, but never neglected his duties.
Chanaka was popular among the ICC staff too. For the World T-20 in 2012 that Sri Lanka hosted, Chanaka had been assigned to the desk at cricket head office. Brian Murgatroyd, ICC Media Manager sent word to his SLC counterparts that Chanaka should be in the press box and nowhere else. Brian and his successors Sami-Ul-Hasan and Rajshekar Rao also sent messages of condolences.
May he attain the supreme bliss of nibbana.