In the world of cricket, passionate supporters play a crucial role in shaping the spirit of the game. One such remarkable figure was Percy Abeysekara, affectionately known as ‘Uncle Percy,’ who dedicated more than five decades of his life to cheering on the Sri Lankan cricket team. His recent passing at the age of 87 has left a void in the hearts of cricket fans worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll explore the incredible journey of Uncle Percy, his contributions to the sport, and his indelible mark on the world of cricket.
A Cricket Superfan’s Genesis
Uncle Percy’s cricket journey began long before the modern era of fan clubs and social media fandom. He rose to prominence during the 1996 Cricket World Cup, a tournament that brought Sri Lanka its first-ever World Cup victory. It was during this time that he became an iconic figure for his spirited displays of support.
Percy’s Finest Moment
The 1996 World Cup was a historic occasion for Sri Lankan cricket, and Uncle Percy’s passionate support played a significant role in the team’s success. His iconic moment came after Sri Lanka’s victory in the final when he paraded the Sri Lankan flag around the ground in Lahore. This triumphant display of national pride symbolized the culmination of a dream for Sri Lankan cricket fans and established Uncle Percy as a symbol of unwavering dedication.
A Global Superfan
Uncle Percy was not confined to Sri Lankan shores. He was among the first generation of cricket’s globe-trotting super fans. His unique blend of rhyming English-language chants and witty exchanges with players endeared him to both Sri Lankan cricketers and foreign stars. No matter where Sri Lanka toured, Uncle Percy was there to support the team. His presence at test matches and other international fixtures made him a beloved figure in cricketing circles.
Renowned for his passion for the game, Uncle Percy received accolades from top cricketers. In the 1980s, Martin Crowe awarded him one of his Man of the Match trophies as recognition of his dedication. More recently, during the Asia Cup in 2023, Indian captain Rohit Sharma paid a visit to Uncle Percy, who was battling illness. This gesture reflected the deep respect and affection that players held for him.
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The Rhymes and Cheers
One of the most endearing aspects of Uncle Percy’s presence was his rhyming couplets and cheers. He had a unique rhyme for every player, tailored to the specific match he was attending. His witty, rhyming chants not only entertained the crowd but also added a layer of character to Sri Lankan cricket matches. He didn’t shy away from good-natured ribbing of his own team, especially when they made fielding errors near the boundary. These moments became part of the charm of watching cricket in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Loyal Son
Though Uncle Percy occasionally poked fun at Sri Lankan players, he was unwavering in his support for the team. His loyalty to Sri Lankan cricket was unbreakable. In fact, Sri Lanka Cricket had recognized his contributions and made a substantial donation to assist him with his medical expenses in his later years. His passing marks the end of an era in Sri Lankan cricket fandom.
Uncle Percy’s International Legacy
While Uncle Percy was primarily associated with Sri Lankan cricket, his influence extended far beyond the boundaries of the island nation. He became an international symbol of the power of dedicated fandom. Images of him waving the Sri Lankan national flag at cricket stadiums around the world remain etched in the memories of cricket enthusiasts.
A Generous and Respected Figure
Uncle Percy was not only a dedicated fan but also a generous soul. His battle with illness was well-known, and in September 2023, Sri Lanka Cricket donated Rs 5 million to support his well-being and medical expenses. This act of generosity reflects the profound impact Uncle Percy had on Sri Lankan cricket and the respect he commanded.
Uncle Percy’s passing leaves a void in the world of cricket that can never truly be filled. His iconic presence, his rhymes, and his unwavering support for the Sri Lankan cricket team made him a beloved figure in the sport. He was not just a fan; he was a symbol of passion, dedication, and love for the game. His legacy will continue to inspire cricket fans, reminding us of the profound impact one individual’s love for the sport can have on the entire cricketing community. As we remember Uncle Percy, let us celebrate his life and the joy he brought to cricket fans around the world.