Dr. Maiya Gunesekara
and Asanga Seneviratne
AGM in early June
By Lal Gunesekera
annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Rugby Football
Union (SLRFU) will be held early June after the
ratification of the constitutional amendments are taken
up officially on May 6.
SLRFU was dissolved on January 22 by the Minister of
Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, who
appointed Dr. Maiya Gunesekara as Chairman of the
Interim Committee for the SLRFU, and Kiran Atapattu as
Secretary cum Treasurer. The AGM was earlier scheduled
for February 21.
everything is in order according to Sports Law I will
call for the AGM," said Atapattu.
Gunasekara told The Sunday Leader that at a
constitutional amendments meeting, the proposed voting
system was "not challenged" but questions were raised
regarding elected members to the council. We also
proposed that the quorum be raised from seven to nine
members, administrative committee to seven and employ a
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) instead of an Executive
also said that the Attorney-General Mohan Pieris, too
will be consulted on the amendments and hopefully obtain
the 4/5 majority needed for it too. He said: "We will
get everything sorted out and Asanga Seneviratne, who
was the Deputy President when the SLRFU was dissolved in
January, can take over as President."
Gunasekera also told The Sunday Leader that former
Executive Director of the SLRFU, Dilroy Fernando, has
been appointed in a honourary capacity as manager in
charge of development and liaise with the International
Rugby Board (IRB) regarding the IRB funds for
development purposes that is given to the SLRFU
annually. He said: "Fernando is the ideal person for
this task and will have to monitor the development work
carried out by the development officers, who earn about
Rs. 5 million a year." We are calling it the "awareness
programme" and their plan will be sent to the IRB too.
Fernando is at present the Director of Sports at CR &
FC and also heads the Sri Lanka Rugby Referees
Gunesekara further said that IRB's Gerrad Gallagher, had
met Lasitha Gunaratne (CEO of SLRFU, IC) during the Five
Nations Tournament in Dubai recently, and had told
Gunaratne that the IRB will release about $35,000 which
according to Dr. Gunasekara will be deposited in a
separate account in the bank. The SLRFU normally
receives a grant of about $ 70,000 for its development
work. The Development Officers will be paid when these
monies come in.
Gunaratne, who went as manager to
was to submit his report to Minister Lokuge last Friday
(April 17) and according to Dr. Gunesekara, the Minister
will be enlightened on the circumstances that led to 18
players "pulling out" from the Sri Lanka side.
"Minister Lokuge will then have to decide on what action
he is to take against these players concerned and arrive
at a decision after an impartial inquiry. It's entirely
up to him" said Dr. Gunesekara.
similar incident occurred for the tour of Chinese Taipei
last November with the Minister warning the players
the tour of
Dubai for the Five Nations Tournament, 24 players made
themselves "unavailable" at first citing numerous
reasons and Lasitha Gunasekara, CEO of the SLRFU IC,
recommended necessary action to be taken against these
players. This was on March 13. However, with the 24
players withdrawing from the national team at the last
moment, six players from CR & FC, who made themselves "
unavailable" earlier, suddenly made themselves
"available" and were picked for the
this end in a legal battle at Hulftsdorp if
discliplinary action is taken against the players by
Planning an innings
coaching programme is coming on nicely and the Aravinda
de Silva Cricket Foundation together with Coca Cola
International is proud of the talent that has been
identified at present. Some of these lads are going to
be top of the rung cricketers in the future if they
stick with the game.
discuss another vital aspect of batting. Most youngsters
do not pay much attention to planning an innings when
they go out into the middle. In fact the planning of an
innings takes place prior to walking out to take guard.
If you are an opening batsman you are first up against
the new ball and only your past experience of a
particular attack will help you with what to expect. But
most school boy cricketers will come up against an
unfamiliar attack when opening. So, take a good look at
what each bowler dishes out. Don't be in a hurry to make
a firm assessment in the first couple of overs.
bowlers are also trying to settle down to a line and
length. Do not make up your mind that the bowler would
continue to pitch up, bowl short or give you width to
free your arms constantly. Do score when the opportunity
presents but never go chasing the ball early into the
look at what is required to build an innings. I prepare
in multiples of ten runs at the beginning. So, it's ten
runs on the board and then I take guard again and
concentrate afresh for the next ten. Do gauge the pace
of the wicket carefully. The pace from one end could
differ, to the other. These are called two paced
wickets. Some bowlers gain more pace/or less from the
wicket. There are varying reasons for this but for today
lets watch out how the ball behaves off each bowler.
Your stroke making must be languid and easy for you to
have settled well into an innings.
yet, you have not reached that stage, keep concentrating
and play as close to the body as possible. This could
well be into your thirties but do not lose heart. It's
the runs on the board that matters. When at the non
strikers end take another angle of the bowling to your
head. You can get a good look at what the bowler is
doing. Once you reach thirty it would be sacrilegious to
throw your wicket. All the hard work is done and you
would be placing your team at a disadvantage.
have to now look at a half century. Once you get to that
milestone it is the beginning of another innings to get
to the next ten. Remember you are at an advantage to
that of the next batsman in, as the settling in has
already been done and perhaps even seen all the bowlers
of the opposing team. Remember what I said earlier in
the article? You may have seen one bowler from a
particular end but once he switches onto the other he
maybe like a different one due to the varying pace off
the wicket or the spin from that end. Treat him as a new
bowler till you are comfortable again.
feel that you have made enough. It's a great mental high
to be thirsty for runs. Just keep telling yourself that
you are never going to throw your wicket away. Talk to
your batting partner and discuss partnerships. Discuss
the next ten runs. Plan what would be a reasonable
target be for your teams bowlers to get the opponents
out. Get that score on the board. Enjoy your batting.
Practice at the nets as if you would be batting at the
centre. More next week.
Over the moon and back into the old hole?
HISTORIANS' recording of
2009 Asian Nations campaign, last week, won't say the
full story. Their consignment to posterity will state we
but were overcome by Chinese-Taipei, a record sheet
that's only marginally better than that of last year:
Then, too, defeat was conceded to Chinese-Taipei, but a
draw was forced on the eventual champions Singapore.
aspirations of promotion to Asia's premier division, so,
again went unrealised, and a future generation reading
the 2009 failure is likely to skim over the story in the
belief that our performance had been ordinary. That
belief, though, can't be more mistaken. The achievements
in Dubai were by a team hurriedly cobbled together some
three-four days before the tour - after, as you know, 17
players from the original squad of 24 pulled-out in
protest of the Sport Ministry's appointment of Pavithra
Fernando as captain over Dilanka Wijesekera, the
national selectors' choice.
records won't say that it was Sri Lanka's second
stringers that did duty in 2009 - a concealment that
distorts the magnitude of our achievement. Consider, the
replacements-filled squad flew out to battle
ill-prepared to say the least. Other nations' commit
themselves to months-long preparation for what is Asia's
singly most important tournament, deciding as it does
the Asian rankings for the year.
just a sketchy preparation, fears were real that we
might tumble to be among the minnows in 2010. Defeated
first up by Chinese Taipei, 24/36, we were halfway to
joining the likes of India, Pakistan and Indonesia. At
the short-break of the next game, v.
ahead by just six points, the journey to minnow-land
wasn't quite averted yet.
the second half was transformed to a thrilling trip to
the moon, as all accounts speak of a marvelous burst of
rugby quite out of this world - and by our second
string. For the record, our B team ran out 51/17
winners, scoring six goals and three penalties along the
way. It is by far our biggest win over the Thais, if not
over any team in the 50-year history of the Asian
tournament. But as being our finest moment in Asian
rugby, well, it will be hard-pressed to outdo the
glorious 9/6 win by Priyantha Ekanayake's 1990 team over
Chinese-Taipei, then Asia's third-best.
special place will no doubt be found in our collective
memory for Fernando's team - for more reasons than one.
Firstly, they made true of that battlefield fable about
converting adversity to triumph, and swelled us with
pride. We had all expected demotion, but Fernando's
fighters secured our berth in Asia's second-tier with a
daring deserving of a place in our rugby folklore. And
overall, they not only gave us a head-spinning surprise
but also restored faith in our rugby. Not surprisingly,
a theory that's increasingly gaining currency is that,
had we been at full-strength, or the team on tour been
better prepared, we would've overcome Chinese-Taipei too
and achieved promotion to Asia's top division.
surmising is justifiable, but given this over-the-moon
feeling in the wake of the triumph over
it is easy to be carried away by emotions, and so
over-exaggerate the achievement, which in turn tempts
the painting of too rosy a picture of our rugby future.
So, caution is advised when conclusions are made on the
2009 Asian Nations campaign, albeit the extraordinary
step down from our world of euphoria and study under a
different light the deeds in
Dubai. The overcoming of the Thais isn't exactly the slaying of
Goliath by David. In fact,
Thailand was the qualifier from among the minnows last
year. As well, we've thrashed them so often in the past
that the outcome of any meetings with them is as given
as, say, champions Kandy SC's meetings with, the Navy or
Air Force, long in rivalry for the wooden spoon. A
routing of the Thais by our second XV, of course, is a
historic feat, and deserves the praise showered on it.
There's some talk circulating that the Thais too weren't
at full-strength. But our rugby community is so
fractious that it might well be a mischievous attempt by
rivals to undermine the deed and the present
government-appointed Interim Committee (never a popular
form of administration anyway) under whose stewardship
it was achieved. It is a fact, though, that the backbone
of Thai rugby is the country's defense service
personnel. And because of the exigent nature of their
duties, it is not always their soldiers, sailors and
policemen are available for national rugby duty. That is
by the bye; the Thais were presented as their national
team, same as our second XV was masqueraded as our first
History reminds us the theory about Chinese-Taipei too
being defeated had our best outfit been on duty in
Dubai, is a tad too presumptuous. In 2008,
Chinese-Taipei overcame a full-strength Sri Lankan
national team by the same 12-point margin it defeated
our second stringers, 35/23 and 36/24 respectively. That
our full-strength team would've won this time, so, is
not so much a fact-based assumption as it is a hope.
Depth of talent
that as it may, what last week said with certainty was
the tremendous depth of talent in our rugby. It conveys
a message that our talent resources are so rich that we
can present a second XV that can pretty much hold its
own against the second-tier nations in Asia - and by
extension, have the potential to oust Kazakhstan/ or
Singapore and join Asia's big three: Japan, Korea and
the question begs why have we been loitering for two
years in the middle regions of the division lower than
where we ought to be residing? The answer has nothing to
do with a lack of talent, as Dubai showed. Rather, in
the board room. It is not a coincidence that the
touring squads to the Asian Nations of the last two
years were both born from nasty controversies over
captaincy. The respective administrations, rather than
douse the selection controversies, only fuelled the
Son as captain
the last SLRFU President wouldn't settle for anything
less than the appointment of his son as captain, the
present chief was, in must be said, helpless to resist
the Sport Minister Lokuge's preferred choice, Fernando,
as opposed to opposing the minister, and supporting
instead the selectors' nominee, which might've been the
ethical thing to do. Of course, Dr Maiya Gunasekera's
critics will accuse him of pandering to the minister's
whims at the expense of dispensing with long-established
practices. But it has to be remembered that Dr
Gunasekera is the minister's appointee, and that has a
lot implications, obedience not exempted. It isn't a
perfect world we live in - which is why, when we ought
to be celebrating the success of our second stringers,
old wounds is being reopened.
captaincy controversy is anything but a closed chapter -
apparently. For, there's now talk about intentions by
the Sport Ministry to impose a ban on the 17 players who
withdrew over Fernando's appointment as captain. It is
premature yet to debate on the spoken threat of a ban,
but should threat translate to fact, the consequences
can be grave. You don't have to be Nostrodamus to
foretell that rugby would be headed to the court house
should the ban be imposed.
then, while they engage in verbal dummying and
side-stepping until judgement day, the playing fields
will lie desolate and barren, players will fatten and
soften- and the promise inspired by the Dubai deeds will
have been but only a desert mirage.
Sanga pads up to take Sri Lanka into a new era
Lanka's newly appointed captain Kumar Sangakkara is set
to take the country into a new era with his dynamic and
astute leadership in all forms of the game.
stylish left hand wicket keeper batsman was always the
front runner to succeed Mahela Jayawardena who stepped
down as skipper after the recent two Test series against
Sangakkara who has played a total of 80 Test matches and
246 one day internationals broke into the limelight at
the age of 22 and since then he has been a regular
member of the
test and one day teams.
scored a total of 6764 Test runs with a best effort of
287 runs and at an average of 54.99. He has also notched
up 18 centuries and 30 half centuries. In the shorter
version of the game he has accumulated a total of 7408
runs at an average of 36.31 inclusive of ten hundreds
and 48 fifties.
a short period of time Kumar Sangakkara broke into the
limelight and soon became one of Sri Lanka's most
influential players in addition of being a highly
talented left handed batsman and a clever wicket keeper.
arrival into the international scene of course was
somewhat unexpected considering the fact that his
domestic performances were relatively modest.
However Sangakkara immediately justified the national
selectors by making a significant impact as a wicket
keeper batsman in his very first tournament the Singer
Series in 2000 against South Africa and Pakistan.
Sangakkara was able to make steady progress as a quality
wicket keeper during the early days after taking over
the duties from Romesh Kaluwitharana and more
importantly showed class in his batting through some
approach to the game is naturally aggressive and his
ability to study the opposition quickly and to exploit
the weaknesses is another hallmark.
Sangakkara's arrival into the scene also helped the
country to solve the long term search for a solid number
three batsman to fill the void that left since the
retirement of Asanka Gurusinha.
Sangakkara was relieved from the exhausting dual
responsibility of batting at number three and keeping
wickets soon after the 2003 World Cup. This move
certainly helped Sangakkara to concentrate more on his
batting but was handed back the wicket keeping duties
during Australia's tour in 2003-04.
Sangakkara's strength in batting has always been that he
works hard at practice. Under Tom Moody and Trevor
Penney, and with John Dyson and Shane Duff before them
he has managed to get a good understanding of what his
strengths are, and how he could get better.
been able to speak to several individuals on how to
build an innings with the assistance of a psychologist,
Sandy Gordon, and occasionally to a few insights here
and there who could understand what they can get better
Sangakkara a charismatic personality and an astute
thinker who is training to be a lawyer between tours was
rewarded for his consistent performances with a place in
the International Cricket Council World XI for the Super
Series one day matches in October 2005.
Sangakkara put on a record 624 runs for the third wicket
along with his captain Mahela Jayawardena in a test
match against South Africa at the SSC grounds in
Maitland Place in July 2006.
followed up that with back to back centuries in New
Zealand and unbeaten double centuries against
and a magnificent 192 against Australia. He also played
a major role in helping
to win the Asia Cup by scoring three centuries in
Pakistan last year.
Sangakkara displayed his calmness with an outstanding
innings under tremendous pressure where he scored 59 off
133 balls in the recent Tri Series final against
Bangladesh that help Sri Lanka to recover from wicket
for 5 runs.
Sangakkara is a complete all rounder not only because he
is Sri Lanka's stylish number three batsman and a
talented wicket keeper. But he is also a key strategist
and a is fast becoming the public face of the national
Sangakkara's leadership qualities are so strong that his
destiny appears very clear and is certain to carry the
Sri Lankan team that could expected to be shrewd and
fearless under his leadership.
Sangakkara was able to learn and mature as a good team
player while performing alongside two former captains
Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardena.
there is a great amount of responsibility on his
shoulders in both one day internationals and Test
matches as a captain who could steal the initiative away
from opposition bowlers with his clever tactics.
Consistency has been one of his aims when he first
started playing cricket at Trinity College, Kandy and
has always tried to somehow make a crucial contribution
with the bat. But Sangakkara's determination to be
consistent has not really curbed his natural inclination
Sangakkara's strong individualism is also displayed in
his approach to endorsements. Unlike many cricketers
he's uncomfortable with his image being plastered upon
billboards to promote a never ending list of consumer
certainly emphasises the qualities that set Sangakkara
apart, as a man and a cricketer.
are fortunate to have discovered a true all rounder.
Cricket test for 2010 World Cup
will use the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket
tournament as a dry run to test security ahead of next
year's World Cup finals.
five-week IPL got underway in Cape Town on Saturday.
Shortly after the IPL ends on May 24, South Africa will
also host football's Confederations Cup in June.
are ready for both the IPL and the Confederations Cup,"
said Susan Shabangu, Deputy Minister of Safety and
fact, we see the IPL and the Confederations Cup as part
of our dry run in preparation for the 2010 World Cup.
you talk about a dry run, that's where you want to flex
your muscles and see to what extent you are ready for
the big event."
IPL competition was relocated to South Africa after the
terror attacks on Sri Lanka's cricketers in Pakistan in
country will host the likes of Brazil, Spain and Italy
in the Confederations Cup soon after the cricket
Mrs. Shabangu is already confident the first African
nation to host a World Cup finals will manage it without
problems, despite the country's reputation for violent
Fifa calls for 2010 promotion
football's governing body FIFA has called on South
Africa to do more to promote this year's Confederations
Cup and the 2010 World Cup.
have not seen a single promotion for the Confederations
Cup and also not a single one for the World Cup," FIFA
General Secretary Jerome Valcke told a news conference
impossible to bring people to the stadium if we do not
promote the Confederations Cup."
eight-team tournament, featuring the likes of Brazil,
Spain and world champions Italy and which is seen as a
dry run for the World Cup, takes place between June 14
with just three months to go, Danny Jordaan, the chief
executive officer of the World Cup Organising Committee,
criticised what he saw as a lack of enthusiasm in the
is only one country that will host this World Cup and
that is South Africa. Yet you find countries like
Canada, Australia are more enthusiastic it seems than
our own South African population," he said.
same situation applies for the Confederations Cup."
Although 646,000 tickets are available for the
tournament, which will be staged in Johannesburg,
Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Rustenburg, only 170,000 have
been sold so far.
Confederations Cup is an important appetiser for the
World Cup, but the rate at which South Africans are
buying tickets is very slow," said Irvin Khoza, chairman
of the local organising committee.
Africans must ensure that they fill the stadium so that
they are given a test before the World Cup."
government hopes the World Cup, the first to be held in
Africa, will bring in millions of dollars and give the country a
readiness of the stadiums and infrastructure for the
World Cup has come under scrutiny but FIFA President
Sepp Blatter said in December there was "no plan B".
Mental focus is key in sports excellence
By Indu Bandara
have all heard the expressions, 'mind over matter' and
'it's all in the mind' when it comes to achieving
success in any area of our lives.
this applies more specifically to sports when one thinks
that his or her physical abilities can keep them from
achieving success on the basketball court, the rugby
field or the cricket pitch. It is even more crucial for
individual sports where a level of concentration and
anticipation is needed, in such sports as golf, tennis
and martial arts.
brain is trained to absorb more information and learn
more easily, then the body will follow suit and become
capable of being stronger and faster, as well as being
able to pick up the details of techniques required to
excel in the respective sport.
Research has shown that we normally use less than one
per cent of our mind's vast abilities, and it is said
that Albert Einstein used only 10 per cent of his brain
capacity! However, through the use of various mental
training techniques, we can tap into this enormous
'sleeping giant' residing inside all of us. Experts say
that transformation must always occur on the inner level
before any results will ever appear on the outer level;
and this is essential to ensure that the benefits remain
is where the revolutionary technique of Midbrain
Activation comes in. While it is a new concept in most
parts of the world, the training program is quickly
gaining popularity in schools and educational centers
around East and South East Asia.
science behind this concept of Midbrain Activation is
the technique of optimizing the function of our middle
brain, which is the 'bridge' between the left and right
hemispheres of the brain. Having this 'bridge' activated
allows for the retrieval of information between the left
and the right brain, which leads to more efficiency in
learning and absorbing information.
also brings out and strengthens characteristics such as
creativity, memory, application skills, self-confidence,
and the ability to concentrate. These characteristics
are especially important in the field of sports and
other recreational activities, where concentration and
anticipation are key factors in attaining positive and
of us have heard that we are either left-brained or
right-brained and have capabilities and qualities that
define how we learn and gain knowledge. Therefore,
Midbrain Activation allows the brain to function as a
whole, rather than only utilizing one part of the brain.
The ideal candidates for this training program are
children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. The
technique is more successful in young children because
their brains are more easily trained and can adapt to
new ways of learning.
young children show an interest in certain sports, they
can receive the training to excel and perform at a
higher level. This training will not only help in
sports, but will also give the child an advantage in
their academic abilities and allow them to perform
better in school and attain better results in exams. By
gaining this training at an early age, the child will
benefit later in life, as well. Their brain will already
be trained to absorb more knowledge and skills, so they
can continue to learn more and perform at a higher level
in their careers and professions, whether in sports,
arts or academics.
Midbrain Activation training holds lifelong benefits.
The child will continue to process knowledge and skills
by using their entire brain, leading to more success
during their present circumstances and well into their
futures, as well. It will basically become a way of
life; one which will aid their development and give them
the edge to stay above the competition in this
ever-changing and uncertain world.
Midbrain Activation is a new concept in Sri Lanka, but
parents, educators, coaches, and trainers will soon have
the opportunity to take advantage of training sessions
which will commence in April and be conducted in Colombo
by the Midbrain Activation expert, Mr. David Ting.
more information on Midbrain Activation and its presence
in Sri Lanka, please visit www.midbrainactivation.org.
What is happening to school rugby?
By Hafiz Marikar
is going to happen to the much awaited inter school
rugby championship? St. Anthony's College has gone to
courts, and the Schools Rugby Body has filed answer and
the decision will be given on the 20th. So, the school
season is in the balance. What a waste of time and money
the schools could have spent on the sport.
schools tournament does not get the green light the
traditional games of schools should be played. At the
Isipathana College Present and Old Boys game I met
Former CH & FC, Sri Lanka Police and Sri Lanka Youth
Coach K.D. Iftikar at
Speaking to me about schools rugger he said, "Where have
we gone wrong? Nobody wants to sit and discuss why is
it? No doubt we all know why a sportsman is considered
when there is a vacancy in any organisation, the reason
being he wouldn't hesitate to make a decision, when his
superiors are not available to advice him. The track
record has shown out of 10 decisions, 8 have been
correct; however it's a sorry state of affairs today. It
will take a minimum of 5 to 7 years after school to
pattern of play, the game plan and the most importantly
the discipline, all have to be taught, which will help
them not to overlook the code of conduct.
must not forget it is the responsibility of all citizens
and sponsors to make good ambassadors for our country.
If we are to achieve that goal we must forget all
differences and go back to the old traditional matches
which will make a big change for our future generations.
we have failed to understand is that rugby is a game in
which we will not be able to go beyond Asia in the
foreseeable future, and even to reach the top three of
Asia the boys should start to play from the time they are able
to hold a ball and for this we need the school games.
And now for the fallout
rugby hacks have been strangely silent in the daily
newspapers about the thumping win
scored against Thailand in their must win relegation
game in the
Dubai. The 51 - 17 thrashing was the largest margin of victory
Lanka have achieved in the international stage.
Unfortunately for them, the tough match was the first
one against Taipei, which they lost clearly due to a
lack of match fitness.
majority of the touring party to Dubai were from CR and
Havelocks. It was strange that Navy players were not
chosen to tour and have not been subject to more
scrutiny. They have some good players who crossed over
from other clubs, and should ideally have seen a
contingent at national training.
that as it may, the players who made up the tour squad
were gathered by Chairman of Selectors Ajith Abeyratne
at a moment's notice. Most were in pre season training
and had not done set piece work, contact training and
match situations. It speaks volumes for the fortitude of
the boys that they were able to put together such a
clinical performance against Thailand and creditably
match up to Taipei.
last edition of the Asian 5 Nations Sri Lanka lost to
Taipei, and also drew with Singapore, who were
eventually promoted. The Elephants were within seconds
of beating Singapore, except for a last gasp try scored
by the expat Singaporean no.8. This goes to show that
the margin between relegation and promotion is wafer
China's diplomatic issues Sri Lanka stayed in the same
division of the competition. Not purely on merit, as
they didn't win a game. This of course was with the full
and CH players included in the mix at the behest of the
Minister of Sports despite their then pull out as well.
things being considered, it would seem that Pavithra
Fernando's 'ahindas' gave a more creditable performance
as a national side than the prima donnas who toured last
time around. Interesting.
Various pot shots have been hurled by many parties
concerned about nepotism in the ranks. I think rugby is
guilty as charged.
Unfortunately for some though the family connections are
patent, while for others, the connections are more
latent. For instance, neither Pavithra Fernando nor
Hemasiri can deny their father/son bond. Neither can
Dushanth and Nimal Lewke. This is unfortunate especially
for the latter as his appointment as captain seemed the
least strange of the recent appointments.
member of that panel of selectors said that while
Dilanka Wijesekera's name was considered, Lewke won by a
nose because of his track record and permanence of his
slot at eight. Dilanka, it was considered by the panel,
was coming off an injury and on the flank positions had
stiff competition from Kasun de Silva, Sajith Saranga,
Dilip Selvam and Sean Wijesinghe. This is assuming Imran
Bisthamin (who was then fit) would not play on a flank.
Dilanka's position was not automatic, despite his
obvious merits as a player.
then was the uproar about captaincy in that instance?
The matter of public record is that the Sanjeeva
Jayasinghe led coalition would not tolerate playing
under a junior player obviously appointed by his father
the President of the SLRFU. This position requires the
assumption that DIG Lewke had pressured the selection
panel into appointing his son as skipper - an allegation
that the Selectors strenuously deny.
Newspaper reports also claim that the waters of the
current captaincy issue were muddied by Hemasiri
Fernando (President of the NOC) 'complaining' to the
Minister that his son Pavithra was not appointed.
nature of Fernando's intimation to the Minister is a
matter of semantics. Nevertheless, the Selection Panel's
'recommendation' - not 'appointment' - was overruled in
favour of the more senior player. Which is the justice
that Jayasinghe and Co. wanted in the first place.
Dilanka Wijesekera is rightfully upset that his father
has no clout to bestow him the national captaincy which
he believes is his. This belief is not without
However, Rohan Abeykoon the immediate ex Chairman of
Selectors is a stalwart of the CH&FC, Dilanka's Club
team, and assumptions can be made - just as Jayasinghe
did with Lewke - that Club loyalties are pushing
through. Furthermore, Abeykoon is also a top executive
at a garment manufacturing group, which claims on its
website to have "(a) love of Rugby football (which)
involves it deeply with the
rugby team. This leading premiere (sic) club in the game
also strengthens our firm rooting in this great town."
not possible for someone who sits feet immersed in the
hot water of conspiracy to assume that Abeykoon may have
harboured a soft spot for players of CH and Kandy given
his affiliations? I'm not saying he did - but it is
possible for someone to assume he did. After all,
although DIG Lewke and Anton Benedict deny any
involvement of the former in Dushanth's appointment as
captain, tongues continue to wag and assumptions
continue to be made.
that make the assumptions however have not led that
classic gospel piece about logs in your own eye and rods
in others' eyes. There have been cryptic pieces in some
other publications about Godfathers of local rugby. They
may not share space on a birth certificate, but nepotism
is just as rife with Godfathers as it is with biological
Button best as Hamilton improves
Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton led the way with the
quickest times in the first two practice sessions for
the Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton's McLaren helped the world champion to his best showing of
the season in the first session.
Button was quickest in the second session as Brawn
looked pacey in bright and breezy conditions in
was 0.025 seconds clear of Nico Rosberg's Williams in
second, ahead of the second Brawn of Rubens Barrichello.
Button's second practice time was more than half a
second faster than Lewis Hamilton's pole-position time
for the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix.
29-year-old early-championship leader trailed team-mate
Rubens Barrichello for much of Friday's second session
but posted his leading time of one minute, 35.679
seconds with eight minutes remaining.
two Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel again
showed their speed as they clocked the fourth and fifth
fastest times respectively.
Hamilton, who was running with a new interim diffuser
and front wing in Shanghai, faded in the second session
and ended up 13th quickest.
McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen was ninth fastest in
second practice after a late charge saw him move up the
Earlier in the day
Hamilton provided a rare positive note for his beleaguered McLaren
team by topping the time sheets in the first session.
defending world champion pulled out all of the stops to
set a time 0.116 seconds quicker than Button, who was
McLaren were quick to react to Wednesday's decision by
F1's governing body the FIA to uphold the legality of
the controversial 'double-diffuser' design.
Renault also have a new diffuser with them in China but
will not use it until Saturday, BBC Sport understands.
Ferrari's frustrations continued as Kimi Raikkonen
laboured to 11th and Felipe Massa 15th, and both drivers
had problems with their tyres.
two Ferrari drivers stood on the podium in China in
2008, but they looked unlikely to repeat that feat as
was 12th and Raikkonen limped in 14th fastest in second
Raikkonen in particular struggled with grip and ended up
on the grass as he fought his way around the long
left-handed turn 13 to cap off a miserable day for
Ferrari drivers were among a number of competitors who
struggled with 'graining' - when small pieces of rubber
break away from the surface and stick to the tread
Renault and Williams drivers, Nick Heidfeld in the BMW
Sauber and Toyota's Timo Glock all either spun or spent
time off the track.
Fernando Alonso had a torrid time in the second session
coming off twice before finishing 19th in his Renault.
Neither Ferrari used their energy storage and power
boost system (Kers) in Shanghai after they encountered
reliability problems with the system in Malaysia.
Kubica used BMW Sauber's Kinetic Energy Recovery System
(Kers) for the first time this season in China, but the
Pole struggled to 18th in first practice and improved
just one place in the second session.
continued their consistent start to the season with
Jarno Trulli finishing sixth, and Timo Glock in eighth -
in both practice sessions.
Williams' Nico Rosberg, who was quickest in five of this
season's first six practice sessions, was seventh
fastest in first practice and second quickest in the