Cricket, lovely cricket
Sri Lankan asylum seeker Phillip David has two great loves; cricket and the countryside.
But the circumstances of his life in his home city of Colombo precluded him from enjoying either of these.
From a poor family and forced to work six, or sometimes seven, days a week as a welder he was never able to pursue his passions.
“Life in Sri Lanka is very hard. In the countryside it is beautiful but the cities are very dangerous places,” Phillip said.
When he fell foul of crime gangs in the city who targeted him in a standover operation, he was forced to flee his homeland.
Now living in Melbourne the 32-year-old has been able to take up cricket seriously and this year won the President’s Award at Parkville District Cricket Club, where he has played the past two seasons.
“I love cricket. It is a great game and it gives me something meaningful and worthwhile to do,” Phillip said.
“My teammates and the club have made me very welcome and playing cricket is the best part of my week,” he said.
The fast bowler has taken several three-wicket hauls this year and scored around 200 runs.
Phillip arrived in Australia by boat in September 2012 and a spent a month on Cocos and Christmas Islands and three months in the Curtain Detention Centre in WA.
As an asylum seeker he has no right to work and very little money but for the past two summers cricket has been the focus of his life.
The Braybrook resident says he feared for his life during the 17-day ocean crossing.
“We were 59 people in a boat 38 feet long. The sea was very rough and one day was very stormy; we all thought we would drown,” Phillip said.
Phillip has been improving his English and learning about Australian culture.
“Australia is a good country and it is safe with proper law and order. I love it here and I would like to live here for all my life. I want to work and contribute,” he said.
“Now I’m in Australia I feel safe and I can play cricket.
“I had never played proper cricket before – only games with tennis balls.
“But now I am very, very happy playing crocket. It relaxes me and it means I can forget my problems. I can’t work so things are difficult for me and now the season is over I am very bored,” Phillip said.
AMES settlement case manager Susan Ryan said Phillip had become more confident and positive through playing cricket.
“He obviously loves the game and he’s very proud of his achievements,” she said.
“It’s given him confidence and sense of purpose and he’s made important connections into the wider community,” Susan said.
AMES Senior Journalist