Budding Sir Lankan bowler keen on greens scene

GREENHORN: Bowling on purpose-built Christchurch greens has been an eye opener for Sri Lanka's Susil Ramanayake.
Arjan Van Hasselt

GREENHORN: Bowling on purpose-built Christchurch greens has been an eye opener for Sri Lanka's Susil Ramanayake.

Given Susil Ramanayake's home bowling lawn is the corner of a cricket pitch in Sri Lanka it's no wonder he wants to pick the brains of Christchurch greens gurus.

Sri Lanka's sole representative borrowed a set of bowls from the Fendalton club to compete at the world champion of champion singles tournament which ended on Sunday.

Ramanayake didn't get a win from any of his matches but it's clear he's here with more long term aims.

As the general secretary of the Sri Lankan lawn bowls federation, he has been getting valuable experience to take back home. Sri Lankan bowls is in its infancy compared with nations like New Zealand, England and Australia. The federation has existed for two years, but Ramanayake has grand plans.

He's talked with Martin Christensen, an experienced greenkeeper and Bowls NZ lifetime member, about the prospect of joining up with some Kiwi greenkeepers and using their expertise to build a proper bowling green in Sri Lanka.

As the rain puddled on the green last Friday, he said the equipment Fendalton were using was completely alien to him. His bowling green is a small section of a cricket pitch at Bloomfield bowling club, which allowed him the space to bring lawn bowls to Sri Lanka.

There is hope that they could put together a programme much much like a previous partnership with Samoa which has seen Kiwi greenkeepers share the expertise both at home and abroad as Samoan clubs build on their existing facilities.

Ramanayake would like to spend three months in Christchurch and work with a number of different greenkeepers. Christensen sees it as a possibility, and will now look to World Bowls to support the initiative under their remit to develop bowls globally.

Passionate about sport in his country, Ramanayake paid his own way to Christchurch after receiving little support from the Sri Lankan government. He sees bowls as one of the best ways to get old and young people in community to play sport together and build support networks for people who need them.

After a brief interlude to discuss the future of of test cricket, he said one day he hopes to host a tri-nations tournament.

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Paying tribute to the organisers, he seems a man that has gained a lot more than just a competitor's keepsake at the end of the week.

 - The Press

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