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"Podi Sir" seems to have met his Waterloo at last

B.H. Perera and Duleep Mendis

By Lal Gunesekera

There was an uninvited guest who made an ass of himself at last Wednesday's (March 18) media briefing of the newly appointed Interim Committee (IC) for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) at its headquarters at Maitland Place.

He was non other than the infamous B.H. Perera, the Administrative Manager at SLC. He interrupted the media briefing towards the tail end, and the newly appointed Chairman of the IC, D.S. de Silva, and Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, had their hands full to stop BH's tirade against the media who had exposed many of his activities.

B.H. Perera made his presence felt to the annoyance of the entire IC, until he was "taken away" by another SLC employee, from where he was holding forth at the instigation of a former Media Manager at SLC, who was seen hovering around.

A law unto himself, "BH", is a well known character who switches allegiance to whoever occupies the "hot seat" at SLC from the time of Thilanga Sumathipala, Jayantha Dharmadasa, Arjuna Ranatunga (a former pupil of BH at Ananda College) and even S. Liyanagama. It was 'BH' who used to "call the shots" at SLC, and remember, he has over two charge sheets in his personal file.

Over the years, no action has been taken against this controversial figure, who is well known as "Podi Sir". He was transferred to Maggona on a decision taken by the newly appointed IC, but later managed to get his transfer moved to the Premadasa Stadium after intervention by a former IC Chairman.

The Sunday Leader learns that "Podi Sir" has been suspended after the latest  episode on Wednesday and an inquiry is to be conducted soon.

It's interesting to see what transpires about this notorious character now.

'DS' doesn't deny involvement

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Chairman of the IC, D.S. de Silva did not deny the fact that he is now married into the family of a leading book maker. His wife is E.W. Balasuriya's daughter and they have a son, who are living in England.

'DS' also did not deny the fact that he managed/was employed at the Sporting Times in Kollupitiya, which he gave up when he started coaching Bloomfield.

He said: "I do not have any other connections to the Gaming industry. The people "at the top" will have to decide whether, My appointment is legal or not.

According to the Sports Law Regulation 14 (1) (F), as well as the ICC Code of Ethics 7 (7.1) and 7 (7.2), "DS", Appointment as Chairman of the IC by Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, is highly questionable.

Ranil Abeynaike, a member of the IC, said that he will stop his weekly column in a Sunday newspaper, but will continue with his TV commentaries.

Whether this falls in line with Regulation 14 (1) (d) is also questionable.

Also, the authorities concerned must also study the Constitution of SLC Regulation 31 (b) and come to a conclusion on the eligibility of Abeynaike.

'DS', also disclosed that President Rajapakse's son, Namal, has found "some sponsors" and was confident that the Hambantota International Cricket Stadium will be completed before the 2011 World Cup to host one semi-final game.

He further said that the cricketers and their families will have to be protected from terrorism and that the security of the players is a top priority before they undertake any tour. He said: "Security  clearance for the players will also have to be obtained for the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty - 20 tournament to be held in India from April 10 to May 24".

'DS' said that the IC will make all decisions and no 'outside' interference will be tolerated.

Questions arise over the appointments of Nishantha Ranatunga and Pramodya Wickremasinghe too. The former is also the CEO of the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association (SLCA),  while the latter is its president. Is this not a conflict of interest?

ICC shows concern

The ICC had shown their concern if Duleep Mendis is removed as the CEO of SLC. He has held this post since 2004. He said that he does not know about these moves and that his contract ends in December.

The Sunday Leader learns that Air Commodore (RTD) Ajith Jayasekera will replace Mendis as the CEO.

Mendis played in 24 Tests for Sri Lanka and 79 ODI's between 1982 and 1988, and it was under his captaincy that Sri Lanka won its first Test victory.

Techniques hold true

The techniques long favoured by purists still hold true but change has taken place in the modern game of cricket. It has done so in batting , bowling and fielding The game is increasingly favoured towards the batting department and those who turn up through the turnstiles, pay to watch batting of high quality. This is true of the longer version of the game and now important in the 50 overs version as well. A true craftsman will not only make runs but will also entertain. To do so his repertoire should be vast and should also be suited to adapt to the conditions of the wicket. Sounds simple? No its not. It is at this point that a thinking bowler comes into thwart the most well laid plans by a batsman.

We have seen the likes of Shane Warne, Mc Grath and our own Murali in recent times. Let me explain the usefulness of front foot play today. Front foot play by batsmen is the standard movement when the ball is pitched up by the bowler from a good length to a fuller one. This is often an instinctive movement and is a safe position to reach or strike the ball. A sideways position it helps the striker to kill spin and also negotiate swing or sideway movement off the pitch from a quicker bowler. This position allows the batsman to make plenty of runs by stroking it in a straighter line and also has the added advantage of addressing the full face of the blade to the ball which is a very forgiving approach.

Master craftsmen use the front foot play with an angled face of the bat to glide and stroke the ball to vacant positions in the field to keep the score board ticking. Even a front foot push or prod is a profitable option. Students of the game and younger players should concentrate on the positioning of the front foot when using this method. The front foot position has a direct relationship to the pace of the ball, the bounce off the wicket and when negotiating spin, the allowance for turn.

It is good advice for juniors to get the front foot as near as possible to the pitch of the ball whilst in the nets. This hold true when starting an innings in the middle till the batsman gets a measure of the pace and bounce off the wicket. Practice long at the nets and this will become second nature. Practice meaningfully by asking the bowlers to pitch the ball to a fuller length and you will feel the difference. Once you master this mode of play an important part of your game is done. Of course you will watch top internationals who would adopt a majority of their strokes off the front foot and some off the back foot. They are called front foot players or essentially back foot players as the case may be.

There is no hard and fast rule but players have to work out at the nets to feel the comfort of the mode of play which is best suited to each individual. Enjoy your practices and be a thinking player at the nets. Not only will you enjoy it but trust me, you will profit by it.

Don't fool with irb, hold agm soon

SRI LANKA's rugby administration encountered more than a few patches of turbulence last year, but few would've guessed that its troubles would elicit any reaction from the IRB, the world body. Sri Lanka, after all, is no great shakes in world rugby, and our problems aren't the sorts that are likely to attract attention of officials at Dublin headquarters, let alone cause anguish. The island is only a dot on IRB map.  

As far as one can remember, the only times when the IRB  showed a touch more than cursory interest in Sri Lanka rugby was in the four years, since 2004, that it accorded Satellite status to the Singer/Srilankan Airlines International Sevens. Top IRB official, Mark Egan, attended the inaugural Satellite tournament, and thereafter, an official of lesser importance represented the world body at each of the events.

Last week, though, two IRB officials flew into Colombo - and for all the wrong reasons. The visit by Gerard Gallagher, IRB Regional Development Manager for Asia, and David Carigy, the Dublin-based Member Services Manager of IRB, was termed as a "fact-finding mission'', which, dare I say, is a polite way of saying: "your rugby is in the s.. and unless you get out of it, sorry, we might have to strike your country out of our list.'' That point, sugarcoated of course, was made known to all those the IRB duo met: Sport Minister, to current administrators, chief of the previous regime and heads of Provincial unions.

IC not recognised

What disturbed Dublin was the decision last month of Sport Minister, Gamini Lokuge, to appoint an interim committee for rugby, which, by the bye, is what he does spontaneously each time the case of a troubled sport is brought before him. It has to be said that these appointed committees have turned out to be anything but interim. Cricket has had an interim committee administration for so long that it has come to be accepted as permanent, no matter that the Oxford definition of interim is quite the opposite meaning.

If the minister's intention was to give his rugby IC the longevity of cricket, then, he had a rude surprise awaiting him from the IRB officials. The visiting duo made it clear that the world body for rugby recognises only democratically-elected national unions - not committees of his fancy to run Sri Lanka rugby.

The IC Secretary, I understand, had attempted to argue the legitimacy of the appointed committee by pointing out that our cricket too has long been administered by an interim committee and the ICC accepts it as the national body. Indeed, the government appoints cricket administrators not just here, but in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as well. The rejoinder: The IRB works by a different set of laws, one of which specifies that it is mandatory for all its member-country unions to have elected representatives. This is to say, Sri Lanka RFU, as presently constituted, stands ostracised from the international family of rugby.

Two months notice

But there's not going to be an immediate blackballing of Sri Lanka rugby. The Sunday Leader understands that our rugby is on two months grace, and unless Sri Lanka can show a democratically-elected rugby union by May, its affiliation to the IRB would cease. The cost of banishment from the world rugby community is incalculable, nay, pretty much the death knell of the century-old game here.

For one thing, grass root (read: provincial) development will come to grief because the annual IRB grant of about Rs.14M would not be forthcoming. That sort of financial loss is colossal - and irreplaceable now, given that the global economic downturn has drastically shrunk the sponsorship pie. The visiting IRB officials were also told that the payment of salaries to the 50-odd provincial development officers was stopped since January by the interim committee.

The IC says that the salaries are being withheld only until such time a new constitution defines the status of provincial unions, some of which presently, the IC claims, holds more votes that they deserve. What ever the politics of that issue is, the fact is provincial development has been at a standstill since January because salaried-officials won't work for free. Critics of the IC, however, claim the unpaid salaries, amounting to over Rs.400, 000 per month, are being used for other purposes. All of which, you'll agree, only go to support IRB's insistence on democratically elected unions to administer the game.

The cost to development is lesser of the blows that IRB non-recognition would deal on Sri Lanka rugby. The more serious consequence will be that the country, without IRB recognition, will become illegible to participate in IRB tournaments, which is to say, all international rugby. As well, any IRB-member country will be forbidden from playing in Sri Lanka-hosted events - and that will mean the end of the Singer/Srilankan International Sevens, the popular annual that celebrated its tenth birthday last year. The bottom line is that Sri Lanka rugby will be cast to the wilderness, and, at best, be reduced to a domestic pastime, as it was during colonial times. It is doubtful if the game, under the dictates of professionalism for two decades, will survive in what would become an environment of amateurism.

AGM before May

Common sense, so, would ask the interim committee to clear the decks for an AGM before May so that an elected committee can take office - and prevent the danger of losing our IRB recognition. But you can't be certain that politicians will not jump in to challenge the IRB. It is easy to interpret IRB's insistence that its member-countries be democratically elected bodies as "interference in our internal affairs'' and "disregarding our sovereignty''. The issue here really is meat and drink to politicians. They've taken on bigger opponents - the UN and the World body, no less - at the slightest hint of perceived "interference''. So, they might well see the IRB as an upstart that ought to be put in its place.

Should politicians latch on to the issue, it will likely be because one from the rugby fraternity has presented the case to politicians - out of vested interest. The politics surrounding the tussle for office in rugby is not a secret - especially exposed out in the open when the DIG Lewke regime defied a time-honoured tradition to grab power. The tradition of accepting the outgoing committee's nominated officials as the successors to office helped in no small measure preserve unity. So when in 2006 that noble practice went out of the window, a crisis like this was always going to be sprung on the game.

It did, and one suspects with designs to foist an interim committee, remembering that president DIG Lewke and his likely successor, Asanga Seneviratne, were at each other's throats. So when DIG Lewke and SSP Duke Hamid, the President and Secretary respectively, quit in quick succession last January and CEO Dilroy Fernando having had resigned earlier, it meant that the union had no official vested with the power to summon the AGM in early-March, when the 2009 office bearers were to be elected. Minister Lokuge reportedly admits he had no alternative but to appoint an IC so that the AGM can "be held soon as possible''.

By that it was taken to mean that the two-man interim committee's task was to be no more than lay the ground for the AGM. But that doesn't seem to be the case. The IC wants to rewrite the constitution, a task that's unlikely to fit into the "soon as possible'' timeframe. To justify a new constitution, the IC secretary has been dishing out all sorts of dirt on the DIG Lewke regime. Admittedly, the last regime was anything but squeaky clean. But then much of controversies that erupted during the DIG Lewke regime were not so much due to a flawed constitution as the questionable decisions taken by them.

That is all water under the bridge. Now the more important challenge is to take decisions that wouldn't endanger our IRB membership. Thankfully, in IC chairman Dr Maiya Gunasekera we have one who is aware of the values of preserving IRB links, being one who had dealings with the world body during his two-year term as president of the SLRFU in the mid-90s. He was also a forward of national repute in his playing days in the 70s and had played in countless internationals. One with such a fine pedigree, you'd expect him to not barter away the future of our rugby for reasons of self-interest.

His work to give rugby another constitution is not without good reason, but if the job is going to go beyond May and cost the country IRB recognition, then he's on a fool's errand.

Foreigners permitted for local  club rugby sides again

By Lal Gunasekara

Two foreigners ( a forward and a three-quarter) can play for a club in the forthcoming Caltex ‘A’ division League Rugby Championship scheduled to start in May.

The Secretary cun Treasurer of the Interim Committee (IC) for Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), Kiran Atapattu, told The Sunday Leader that this decision was reached unanimously  on Friday night at a meeting between the IC and the Committee of Management which included ex-players in the caliber of Ajith Abeyratne, Group Caption (rtd) Nalin de silva, Hisham Abdeen, Priyantha Ekanayake, Imthi Marirar, Rohan Abeykoon and Lasitha Gunaratne.

The influx of foreign players in local clubs started in 1986 when the SLRFU was headed by Y.C. Chang. The first such player was Apisai Nagata from Fiji who turned out for CH&FC, and later for Kandy Sports Club and did duty as a coach too.

Various other foreigners from Fiji, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, England and New Zealand, have been turning out for Sri Lankan club sides, including even the Police, Army and Air Force up to 2004.

There is a residential qualification if one of these foreigners are to represent Sri Lanka, they have to be in the country for a period of three years.

Even thee mighty All- Blacks of New Zealand have four Fijians playing for them, two Fijians for England and two New Zealanders for Australia


Two superb centuries help Basnahira North

Two magnificent centuries from Angelo Mathews (152) and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (103) helped Basnahira North take a good first innings lead of 166 runs over Wayamba Province on the second day of the SLT Inter Provincial cricket tournament final continued at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Friday.

Wayamba Province: 223 and 39 for no loss (M. Udawatte 20 n.o)

Basnahira North: 389 (I. Daniel 31, A. Mathews 152, M. Pushpakumara 103, D. Dharshanapriya 22, T. Perera 2 for 68, I. Udana 2 for 54, R. Herath 2 for 83, J. Mubarak 2 for 65)

President's College win by an innings

Off spinner Madhuka Liyanapathirana came closer of claiming all ten wickets in an innings as President's College routed Ananda Sastralaya MV outright by an innings and 74 runs in their inter school under 19 cricket tournament match concluded at Baddegana on Friday.

President's College: 272

Ananda Sastralaya MV: 143 and 55 (M. Liyanapathirana 9 for 19)

Trans asia open tennis

Once again by popular demand Trans Asia Hotel together with the collaboration of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association sparks off the Open Ranking Tennis Championship on  March 21,  on the hotel's clay courts.

Co-sponsored and supported by Hedges Residencies, Mobitel Telecom and Third Generation Sports (Pvt) Limited, agents for HEAD, the tournament has already attracted 345 entries a record in the history of this tournament which is being held for the tenth year. A press conference was held on  March 18 to announce the tournament where the sponsors endorsed the encouragement the hotel was extending to up and coming players. Speaking at the conference was Mr.Suriya Bibile from Third Generation Sports, Mr.Suren J Amerasekera, CEO of Mobitel Telecom, and Mr.Rohith Dissanayake from Hedges Residencies while Mr.Mirza Fajudeen Director Sales of Trans Asia represented the hotel. Last year, the tournament enjoyed 260 entries. Spectators can expect to watch some thrilling matches as National Players and Davis Cup Players are all participating in this tournament.

The tournament will culminate with the final matches being played on the  April 3, followed by a prize giving and cocktails at the hotel premises.

Tournament Director is N.S.Jayashantha from the Trans Asia Hotel's Power Drome, while the match referee is Mr.Avantha Suranimala from the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.

For the open events bumper cash prizes are up for grabs for the winner and Runner up together with a trophy, while the Junior Event players will receive Trophies, gifts and certificates. 

Is he eligible ?

The eligibility of an official of a racquet sport to seek election of President of its governing body at the forthcoming annual general meeting, is highly unethical

This official was a senior officer in one of the armed services, who even served as military attache in the country's High Commission in a South Asian nation

After serving for 17 years, this officer, was found guilty of an offence on inquiry, and was decommissioned in the late 1980's

This individual also served as an official in another racquet governing body a few years back.

There is also an inquiry pending against this official on complaints that he managed a junior team across the Palk Strait.

Saints Twenty 20

The inaugural Saints Schools Twenty -20 cricket tournament will be worked off on March 28 from 10 a.m. at the Premadasa Stadiun.

The four Teams taking part are St-Benedict's, St. Anthony's  St. Joseph's and St. Peter's with the winners to receive Rs 50,000 and runners-up Rs 25,000, besides other awards to the Man of the Match in the two seml-finals, Best Batsmen in the final, Best Bowler in the Match,and in the final and the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.

The final is scheduled for 6pm and Roger Wijesuriya will be the adjudicator.

EU's SLRFU rep. "sold a dummy"?

By Lal Gunesekera

The Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) representative in the European Union (EU), Elmo Rajasooriya, is a disappointed man.

A member of two famous rugby playing clubs in the United Kingdom namely Harlequins and London Welsh, Rajasooriya, had sent a consignment of rugby equipment consisting boots, jersey, stockings, shorts etc to the SLRFU in September last year to be distributed to schools in rural areas, for development purposes.

"The rugby kits are discarded by players in Wales and Yorkshire areas and I requested them to donate these items for this worthy cause in Sri Lanka. Two large boxes were shipped out to Colombo last September. I know they were cleared by the SLRFU. The former Executive Director of the SLRFU, Dilroy Fernando, confirmed receipt of these goods and that he was making arrangements to distribute them" said Rajasooriya.

He told The Sunday Leader that he was unaware of what happened to the goods shipped as it was customary that donors are thanked for their contributions. He said: "I have not been able to carry out this function, as I don't know what has happened to this particular consignment".

Rajasooriya, who has been the SLRFU representative in the UK since 1987, and then the EU, has sent three or four consignments to Sri Lanka over the last three years depending on what  the SLRFU requests from him. He used to clean the boots etc and sea freight them to the SLRFU.

Rajasooriya has visited most of the EU countries regularly and presented them with ties, plaques etc. at his own cost, so that these countries will know that Sri Lanka is a Rugby playing nation.

Elmo Rajasooriya continues to be a member of the Gymkhana Club, Havelock and Kandy Sports Clubs. He is in Sri Lanka at the moment and is scheduled to return to London at the end of the month.

Iswan Omar writes...

1. What I, as representative of the Central Province RFU brought to the notice of the two IRB Officials when they met the Provincial Union heads, was that individual clubs will find it difficult to obtain funds from sponsors, due to uncertainty of the Rugby programmes for the year.

2. The Inter - Club Rugby Sevens is an SLRFU event. The Kandy Sports Club (KSC) agreed to host the tournament at Nittawela on the 7th &' 8th February 2009. At no point in time did we agree to fund the event. The understanding was that the SLRFU as in the past will provide us with the necessary finances to conduct the event. No sooner was the event concluded, KSC was able to prepare a Statement of Expenses (for Rs.136,492) attach all documents in support thereof, and transmit it to the interim Committee - together with a cheque for RS.13508 (representing the unutilised funds). This was the proficient and transparent way in which KSC handled this project.

The real 'shame' here is the effort being made by the controlling body (SLRFU) to have a constituent club provide it with bridging finance to meet its ( the Unions) expenses.

3. Singer Srilankan Airlines Sevens - 2008. The Audited Statement of  Accounts duly certified by SJMS Associates - Chartered Accountants  has been forwarded to the following on February 5.

         Our Sponsors: Singer (Sri Lanka )PLC and SriLankan Airlines Ltd.

         Mr.Asanga Seneviratne Chairman Organizing Committee. (representing the SLRFU- and appointed by the SLRFU Council in July 2008 with whom we were instructed to liaise with)

         Mrs.Beth Coalter - Tournament Operational Manager - IRB

         Mr.Jarred Gallagher - Regional Manager IRB (Asia)

4. Re : CPRFU - It is correct a sum of Rs. 250.000/- was released to the CPRFU for 2008 to conduct Rugby Development programs and pay Allowances to the 'B' Division club. These have been properly constituted and being Audited.

5. Re : 20 Clubs - It is correct that KSC is the only "A" Division Rugby Club, but there are a further 19 "B" Division Rugby Club registered with the SLRFU/CPRFU for 2008 together with the relevant documents duly accepted by the SLRFU.

Saman, damith lose in india

THE ABA's campaign to inject young blood into the national team got off to a disappointing start when both its young representatives were eliminated in the first round of the seven-nation M K Misra International meet held last week in Chandigarh, India.

Fly weight Damith Wijeratne, 21, was out-pointed, 1/11, by the eventual gold medalist, a representative of the Indian Railway Authority. But feather weight Saman Silva subjected his opponent, also an Indian, to some distress before conceding defeat, 6/10. The 22-year-old Sri Lankan southpaw, the vanquisher of the Russian world junior champion last November, began impressively by taking a 5/0 lead early in the first round, which, however, closed all-square at 5/5.

From then on, the Indian was the more assertive, leading 8/6 in the second round before eventually running out a 10/6 winner.

The young duo was making their debut in an overseas international meet, which coincided with the worldwide introduction of nine-minute bouts. As of 2009, AIBA ruled that a bout is to last nine minutes and be of three-round duration, replacing the old four rounds of two minutes each. The implication of the change means the total interval-time available to boxers is less: the three minutes rest of the old four-rounder is now down to two minutes.

"There's no denying that Damith and Saman lost to superior opponents. But I think the new duration of three rounds of three minutes each wasn't of help either, especially to Saman. In the first round he scored five points, in the second just one and none at all in the third. Accustomed to two-minute rounds followed by a one-minute interval, clearly, Saman's fitness level was inadequate to cope with rounds of longer duration,'' said Lt. Col. (Retd.) Hemantha Weerasinghe, ABA Secretary. "Saman admits that he felt stiff and weary before the final round, and, had he been physically better conditioned, he might've been able to wipe out the two-point deficit (at the end of rd. 2) and gone on to perhaps win in the last round.''

The ABA is shortly to summon a meeting of all coaches to discuss the methods of training required to adapt to the new duration of bouts. "Obviously, the boxers' approach has to be different, and fitness levels have to improve - aspects which we haven't given the serious thought they deserve,'' said Weerasinghe.

Basnahira North emerge champions

Basnahira North lifted the SLT Inter Provincial cricket tournament with a convincingten wicket outright victory over Wayamba Province with more than a day to spare inthe final concluded at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday.

 Wayamba: 223 and 181 (M. van Dort 50, M. Udawatte 28, K. Lokuarachchi 20, J. Mubarak

20, J. Kulatunga 37, N. Kulasekera 2 for 39, M Pushpakumara 4 for 49)

Basnahira North: 389 and 16 for no loss

Royal win Mustang Trophy

Banuka Rajapaksa captured four wickets and Kusal Perera hammered a splendid halfcentury as Royal College defeated their traditional rivals S. Thomas’ College MountLavinia by five wickets in their annual inter school limited overs cricket encounterworked off at the SSC grounds in Maitland Place yesterday.

  S. Thomas’: 158 for 9 in 50 overs (S. Peris 31, B. Rajapaksa 4 for 33)

Royal: 159 for 5 in 33. 3 overs (K. Perera 55, B. Rajapaksa 28, S. Hettiarachchi 32,F. Saleem 3 for 32)








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