My wife was told I was dead and she fainted

Samaraweera on touring Pakistan


Thilan Samaraweera receives treatment after arriving in Colombo following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009. Samaraweera, who was the worst affected by the shooting has urged Sri Lanka Cricket to not to put any pressure on players in touring Pakistan.

by Rex Clementine

One of the guttiest batsmen to play Test cricket, Thilan Samaraweera has urged Sri Lanka Cricket to not to put any undue pressure on the players to tour Pakistan. Samaraweera was the worst affected when the Sri Lankan team bus came under a terrorist attack in 2009 as he underwent two surgeries before a two inch bullet was removed from his left leg.

Pakistan has been a no go zone for international cricket teams since the incident. However, SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala, who stepped down as Chairman of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) last month, had told an ACC meeting that he was willing to break the deadlock provided proper security was in place.

Pakistan announced the schedule for their bilateral series against Sri Lanka last week and accordingly the national cricket team will play all their games in UAE, except the last T-20 International which will take place on Lahore in October.

"If you ask me, I am not ready for Pakistan now. There needs to be security clearance and I hope that someone from Sri Lanka Cricket visits Pakistan to get a first hand experience of the situation. The security provided to the Sri Lankan team should be as same as the security given to the World XI team that is currently in Pakistan," Samaraweera added.

"Players I feel should be given the choice to decide whether they are comfortable in going to Pakistan or not. If they opt not to go, then they shouldn’t be penalized," noted Samaraweera.

Samaraweera went onto claim that the security provided to the Sri Lankan team in 2009 was not as same during the Asia Cup in 2008 where Sri Lanka emerged champions beating India in the final.

In the two Test series, Samaraweera smashed a double hundred on day two of the Lahore Test, his second double hundred in the series. The next morning he was shot as the Sri Lankan team traveled to the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore for the action on day three.

"My routine on match days is that I call home at around 8 and then I leave the phone at the hotel room. Once my family heard the news of the shooting, my wife tried to call me up. Then someone had said that I was dead and she fainted," recalled Samaraweera.

"An hour or so later, she called up Mahela and he had said that I was fine but not in a position to talk as I was being treated for the wounds. Then she called up Sanga. He told the same thing and she started to become more worried. I was then taken to the hospital and fell unconscious. Eventually around 2:30pm I called her up and she was much relieved. I could then imagine what sort of plight our armed forces and their families go through day in and day out."

"There is nothing against Pakistan. I feel for them. I can understand what they have gone through. Even we suffered from a civil war for 30 years. But here in Sri Lanka, when we travel for games, four jeeps of Special Task Force (STF) personnel accompany the team bus and we know there’s nothing to worry about," recalled Samaraweera, who averaged a Bradmansque 90 in Pakistan."

"We wanted to get out of Pakistan immediately. I was conscious by 2:30pm at the hospital. Mahela rang me and said that there’s an immediate flight to Dubai and the team wanted to go in that flight. I told him, look, I can’t even move my leg. You guys get going and I should be fine. Then Mahela said you are not going, none of us are going. Eventually President Rajapaksa sent down a chartered flight for us to be taken back home."

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