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ICC Cricket Committee meeting in London

Duleep Mendis

 Duleep Mendis to represent all CEOs

By Lal Gunesekera

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Duleep Mendis, has been honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to represent all CEOs of the 10 Test playing countries at a high powered  ICC Cricket Committee meeting on May 11 and 12 in London, England.

This is a big honour for Mendis, who is the most senior CEO among the Test playing countries, and the only person to have held the positions of player, captain, manager selector, coach. CEO and acting Chairman of the Interim Committee (IC) of SLC (although it was for only seven days) when S.B. Dissanayake was the Minister of Sports.

Among the topics to be discussed by the ICC Cricket Committee in London is playing conditions, rules, referees, umpires, venues, changes to the Twenty - 20 system (whether it is to be increased to 25 overs) etc.

There were moves earlier to replace Mendis as CEO by certain interested parties, but in the end his services were retained though Ajith Jayasekera was appointed as Additional CEO by the D.S. de Silva led administration.

The meeting will be chaired by Clive Lloyd, and also includes Ian Bishop and Mark Taylor (past players), Kumar Sangakkara and Tim May (representatives of current players), Mickey Arthur (full member team coach), Simon Taufel (Umpires), Ranjan Madugalle (Referees), Keith Bradshan (MCC), David Kendix (statistician), Ravi Shastri (Media), Steve Tikolo (Associate Represetative) and Duleep Mendis (representative Full Members).

Fielding too is important

We discussed planning an innings when batting on the last ocassion. Today let us discuss another aspect which is equally important. Fielding. This department of the game is least taken seriously by young players. Can you imagine a bowler doing his best to find a sloppy fielder give a run which could have been prevented or a catch dropped? Imagine a batsman making a run and the opportunity is there for a run out and the fielder botches it? Ok so now you have got my drift. Every player has to field. You may not get to bat or bowl in a match but you will have to field. Often its for two innings. Now lets analyse how one can be a good fielder.

Agility is required

Agility, sharpening of reflexes and attacking the ball are what is required. Lets start by discussing the close in fielding positions and what is required to excel in these areas. Remember that only nine fielders are available to position as the wicket keeper and bowler would have to be discounted.

The rules state that only two fielders can be placed behind the popping crease on the legside. Many a time there would be at least five fielders stopping one run. This would mean five fielders would be wthin thirty metres or so from the bat, take the slip fielder away and you will have four. They could be at cover, extra cover, mid off or a short mid off on the off side. Aid on , short mid wicket, a forward or backward short leg would be options on the leg side.

These fielders will have to be quick on their feet and also have safe pairs of hands. Lets discuss how to sharpen these skills. Practice fielding like you would be stopping a single or taking an important catch each time. Get someone to hit the ball direct at you or a metre or two away from you at different speeds and heights for catching practice. Get another to hit the ball along the ground, first to the left and then to the right at varying speeds for pick up and throw to the wicket like in a match.

Throwing the ball

Imagine that you are stopping a single with each pick up and throw. Alternate between throwing at the wicket keepers end and to the non strikers end. Make sure that you have your weight on the right foot for scoop and throw at the point of release if you are throwing from a low position to release the ball quickly.That is if you are a right handed thrower. You could pick up and get upright if time is available and throw with the weight on the left foot too.

The slips will also have to practice in a simulated match atmosphere. Arrange three slips and the wicket keeper, get a batsman to glide or cut the ball on the offside with someone throwing the ball at him. The slips would have to watch the outside edge of the bat and follow the ball all the way to the hands.

Dont try to grab at the ball but let it settle within cupped palms, The first slip should watch the ball from the hand of the bowler but in this case the thrower as the angle of deflection would be minimal. He would do so just like the wicket keeper. keep the eyes on the ball and move with bent knees in the direction of the ball and do not dive or fling yourself unnecessarily.

Keeping your balance in the slips is the most important thing. Practice these moves as often as you can and you will be one of the most important members of the team. Take my advice. You could even play in a team simply as a good fielder.

Why? You can stop twenty five runs from the opponents or even take a catch or two and a run out, that would make a difference. More than all enjoy fielding. Its also a special art. I emphasise the need to hone these skills in my academy and doesn't Coca Cola International agree. More next week.

Sri Lankan tennis achieves 10-year dream,
but can the IC cope with new demands

Life in Group 2 will be a lot harder

AS the odds-defying Asian Nations rugby triumph by Sri Lanka's second-stringers over Thailand, and the nasty controversies leading up to that win, took much of the recent New Year holiday headlines, an outstanding achievement by Sri Lanka's national tennis team went unheralded, if not unnoticed. Not all of the print and electronic media last Sunday reported the realisation of a ten-year dream: the elevation of Sri Lanka to the ranks of Group Two in next year's Davis Cup competition. It is no mean achievement, and by any reckoning ought to have been accorded greater prominence - the absence of which is due as much to tennis' lesser standing in sport's popularity list (by which the media sifts the day's important from the less-important) as the inefficiency of the SLTA's public relations department, if there's one at all.

Success after a decade

A decade is a long wait, and its ending surely would've evoked sighs of relief and shrieks of delight among the tennis fraternity here, especially after the expensive preparations - and promises - of the three previous years went unfulfilled. Before we try to answer why a far-less expensive preparation this year earned success, let's dwell on last week's achievement so that its significance can be better appreciated. First let's trace the success trail of Godamanna, Rajapakse and Co. Sri Lanka was in Group B of the eight-nation competition, along with Iran, Saudi Arabia and host Syria. To qualify for the semifinals, Sri Lanka needed to finish first/second in their group. They topped it, with a handsome all-win record: beating Iran, 2/1; Saudi Arabia, 3/0; Syria, 3/0.

That brought the competition to its knockout stage, with the four semifinalists - Pacific Oceania and Lebanon (from Group A) and Sri Lanka and Syria (Group B) in the race for the two promotion slots. This meant that our promotion hopes rode on the outcome of our semifinal match v. Lebanon, one of two countries demoted from Group Two last year; the other, Pacific Oceania, a collection of the best players from different islands in the Pacific ocean.

The rugby equivalent of our semifinal match-up would be a confrontation with Arabian Gulf/ or Kazakhstan in the Asian Nations first division, had one of the two lost their place in the premier division. Not that overcoming either is impossible but nothing short of a perfect performance would've been required to accomplish it. Sri Lanka's tennis team produced a perfect-10, whitewashing Lebanon, 3/0. Pacific Oceania, however, was quite another proposition. Without denying their superiority, the knowledge that we had already secured promotion, and perhaps the consequent dimming of the fires of ambition, contributed to our 0/3 loss to the Pacific islanders in the final. But this defeat is not without advantage: a forewarning was given of the more challenging time awaiting us next year in Group 2 - and the need to plan ahead and make greater investments in the preparation for sterner competition.

Model for next year

The sort of planning and expensive investments put into the preparations over the previous three years might've been suggested as a model for next year, except that it failed. In theory, though, there wasn't much wrong in the program of preparations, 2006-08,   including as it does the recruitment of a professional coach from overseas, training stints in the hired coach's academy in Bangkok (where Godamanna had based himself in 2006 to pursue a professional career) as well as its six-month span. It seemingly was the best preparation afforded to any of our Davis Cup teams ever, costing the SLTA about Rs.2M each of the three years.

Undeniably, the program did make Godamanna, our no.1 singles, a better-equipped combatant, but it must not be forgotten that he made his own investments in pursuing ambitions of a career in professional tennis- and Sri Lanka tennis just happened to be a fortunate beneficiary of his decision, not the investor. Even with such help forthcoming, the question to ask is why the preparations of the three previous years, costing roughly Rs.6M, failed; whereas the 2009 preparation, including just six days training in ATF's Regional Academy in Bangkok, costing in all roughly half-million rupees, succeeded.

One short of Lebanon

The disparity in the costs is huge and does arouse suspicion about the quality of preparations of the three previous years. Any harsh conclusions on the quality of the training offered at the academy of Dominic Utzinger, the Bangkok-based Swiss coach, would be unfair. His c.v. includes the coaching of Roger Federer in his younger days. That evidence of his quality apart, the Utzinger-presided campaigns didn't fail by much either. In 2007 we actually finished joint-first, together with Kuwait and Lebanon. But in a count back of the sets won by each in the entire tournament, Sri Lanka fell one short of Lebanon, the second qualifier. The failures in 2006 and 08 weren't by much either, finishing among the top four on each occasion.

So, it wasn't as if promotion was missed by a mile in 2006-08, but what ever the margin of difference, it meant another year spent in Group Three, which, as at 2008, had totted up to nine years. Another significant difference in the 2006-08 and the 2009 preparations was the numbers that made up the respective team managements: manager (Vasantha Wijesekera), coach (Utzinger) and captain (de Silva) - as opposed to Asiri Iddamalgoda doing all three jobs this time around. So, it is justifiable to ask if the 2006-08 failures were a case of "too many cooks spoil the soup''? Equally, it is justifiable to believe that a one-man management meant fewer complications to performing the task at hand- which hadn't been the case previously. In 2007, the decision to persist with an unfit Renouk Wijemanne (expensively flown out from the US) for the second singles for all but one of the five encounters proved costly: We fell one set short of promotion. Suggestions to pull out Wijemanne on day 1 and field instead Rajapakse were rebuffed by the management. Then, last year's hopes were scuttled even before the team emplaned by the infamous dispute over selection of the fourth player- a dispute that was taken before the Sport Minister and very nearly to courts. With the ugly exchanges involving selectors, SLTA officials and the contending players made public, the confidence of the squad was surely no where near high. They lost the opening match to Malaysia, and from then on it was pretty much a lost cause.

No controversies

There were no such controversies to blight this year's campaign - and it showed on court. Godamanna, as in all of his previous Davis Cup appearances, proved our Mr. Reliable. Bar in the final, he won all of his other eight matches: four singles and four doubles. By any measure, it was a display of remarkable consistency, no doubt acquired from his three-year pursuance of a professional career, which, sadly, was abandoned early this year.  This isn't the first time that Godamanna has contributed generously to Sri Lanka's Davis Cup cause. If previously his efforts were for a losing cause, it is because one man alone can't bring promotion. Duets do. And this time around, he found an able partner: Rajapakse, who won three of his four pre-final encounters and partnered Godamanna in all of the four doubles successes.  

Rajapakse's seven wins might be one less than his teammate's tally, but the former gave more in terms of sweat and toil. All four of his pre-final matches went the full distance, one going into a tie-breaker. Godamanna, on the hand, won three of his four pre-final matches in straight sets.

The wise men of tennis have long thought of Rajapakse as suitable only for the doubles, suspecting his fitness - a theory he shot dead last week. Of course, as one who runs his family's optical business; his commitment can't be ideal. Even so, the 28-year-old has long been a Davis Cup representative, but he hasn't previously managed to cast the sort of dominance he did last week. Perhaps, in the past his role in the team wasn't spelled out in definitive terms- whether as a specialist doubles who may be called on to fill in as second singles player should the need arise, or as permanent singles and doubles player, as Godamanna is.

This year, though, his role and responsibilities were made clear - play Godamanna II, if you like - and so set about determinedly to play the part. "Previously we had routinely lost the second singles and attempted to win the encounter through success in the doubles. We didn't want to be in that sort of pressure situations. So, this time Harshana and I decided, come what may, to go for a winning 2/0 lead by winning both singles - and succeeded in three of the (the first) four matches,'' said Rajapakse. "I think knowing my precise role in the squad aided my performance. That hadn't been the case in the past few years." - And was the apparent reason why we fell short of promotion in the past few years.

Cause for celebration

Be that as it may, the realization of a 10-year ambition is cause  for celebration - more so as Sri Lanka tennis has had precious little to be cheery about since 2006/7 when an interim administration was foisted on it by Sport Minister, Gamini Lokuge - just so that his political friend Janaka Bogollagama may sit on the sport's high chair.

Of course, the IC officials weren't going to miss out on being at hand to welcome home the triumphant squad, Tuesday. And indeed they were there at the airport, garlands and all. It was a nice gesture, and might've been taken for a genuine expression of their appreciation- if only they had been around to bid the players farewell, too.

But this is not the time to be talking of the bungling of the Bogollagama administration. Suffice to say tennis went broke long before global recession hit the world, as sponsors withdrew by droves since the IC came into being. If anything, with the recession beginning to bite, times will only get harder for tennis - which raises the question of IC's solvency and the ability to fund the far more expensive life in Group Two. But then, being a Sport Ministry creation, it is morally bound to come up with money, which, given the IC's dire financial strait, the ministry obviously hasn't helped out as yet. No tennis program is quite so deserving of investment as the bid to remain in Group Two until such time promotion to Group 1 becomes a realistic proposition. That is what progress is all about.    

Group Two countries include Kuwait, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Pacific Oceania - nations we've played with during our nine years in Group Three, but could never beat. "That we haven't beaten some of the Group Two countries (when they were in Grp.3) tells us the sort of opposition we face next year. It is going to be tough,'' says Rajapakse.  So, unless we prepare accordingly, you have to believe in miracles to think that our Group Two status is going to last any longer than a year.  This much is certain next year around this time: the farewell to the team leaving to defend, for the first time in 11 years, the country's Group Two status won't lack the presence of IC officials. The enthusiasm shown for their arrival, however, might be quite another story. 

George Steuarts Travels' Twenty 20 bonanza

By Nirmala Kannangara

George Steuarts Travel International Ltd a subsidiary of George Steuarts and Company Ltd the oldest company in the country gives cricket enthusiasts a never to be missed chance for a firsthand experience of the ICC World Twenty 20 in England in June.

Having being the exclusive travel agent in Sri Lanka for the ICC Cricket World Cups 2007, 2003, 1999 and the Wills Cricket World Cup tournament 1996 where Sri Lanka emerged World Champions, George Steuarts (GS) Travels has once again become the official travel agent for the popular ICC World Twenty 20 cricket matches to be played in England from June 1- 21.

According to Senior Director, GS Travels Lucky Fernando, five packages have been introduced for the cricket fans while the accommodation during their stay would be in picturesque star class hotels and inns closest to the venues.

Frontier Racing dominates Foxhill

The Land Rover Defender entered by Frontier Racing won the event for Diesel Jeeps and Trucks and was placed Second against Petrol and Diesel 4WD's in the Trucks and Jeeps Open category at the Foxhill Super Cross on April 18.

The Frontier Racing Land Rover 90 won the Diesel Jeep and Truck race with ease. Its straight line speed was proved from the start of the race, when the Defender surged ahead of its competition.  This straight line lead was enhanced in every corner. In the corners, the Defender showed much more poise, and very much higher levels of grip. In the Open Event for Petrol and Diesel Trucks and Jeeps, the Defender was leading the race until the penultimate lap. The Frontier Racing Defender was driven by Sheran Fernando, CEO, Frontier Automotive.

The Land Rover Defender was specially designed and built by Mr. Anuruddha Yapa, (Director) and his dedicated team at Frontier Automotive. The starting point of the vehicle was a 25 year old Land Rover 90. The 90 had a TD5 engine, specially tuned by Chandima Gooneratne and Dissanayaka of Frontier, in technical collaboration with Twisted Performance of the UK. The vehicle body and suspension was designed by Mr. Yapa.

With the Defender stamping its class in the field of circuit racing, this makes it the most versatile vehicle in the world. The Defender is widely used in the most arduous areas of the North and East, by the Military. NGO's the world over depend on the Defender, when they need extreme levels of performance. Wild life enthusiasts and photographers the world over use Defenders when they go exploring. The Defender has been at the forefront of off road racing. And now, the Defender has commenced the domination of circuit racing. 

The second car entered by Frontier Racing was a Citroen Saxo. This car was entered in the class Group H cars. The Saxo, came second in race one, and won race two. The Citroen performed very creditably in a class dominated by more powerful Honda Civic's. The suspension and the engine management system of the Citroen was designed by the team at Frontier Racing, under the supervision of Citroen Sport, who develop the Citroen cars that dominate the World Rally Championship. Technician Kanishka, who is responsible for the maintenance and development of the Citroen has been trained by Citroen, and Citroen Sport.

"Official" team photograph after team returns

By Lal Gunasekera

Normally an official team photograph of any national side is taken before the team leaves overseas. But this was not the case where the Sri Lankan rugby side was concerned.

An official team photograph was taken at Nittawela on March 30 where the original side was practicing for the Five-Nations Division I Rugby Championship which was held in Dubai.

Then the controversy erupted over the captaincy. Dilaka Wijesekera who was nominated by the Rohan Abeykoon led selectors was replaced by Pavirhra Fernando on an objection raised by his powerful father, Hemasiri Fernando, Chief of the national Olympic Committee (NOIC).Former IGP Indra de Silva of the National Selection Committee of the National Sport Council installed Pavithra Fernnado as captain.

Most of the original players selected from Kandy Sports Club and CH & FC objected to Fernando's appointment and refused to tour including national coach, George Simpkin, a New Zealander.

 However, a new set of selectors was picked and they chose a host of CR & FC players instead. Even the CR & FC coach Carrington was picked to accompany the side to Dubai.

What were the results? Sri Lanka lost to Chinese Taipei 24-36, but beat Thailand 51-17 to remain in Division I.

The official photograph was taken last Monday (April 20) at the Sports Ministry with even Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge in attendance, for the first time in the history of the SLRFU.

This phortograph was taken on the initiative of Pavithra Fernando, but CEO of the IC for SLRFU. Lasitha Gunaratne, who went to Dubai as Manager, and the Secretary cum Treasurer of the IC, Kiran Atapattu, refused point blank to sit for this photograph.

Please Leave !

The Western Province RFU were to conduct the schools tournament this year and had called for a meeting at Havelocks on Monday (April 20), to discuss various issues.The SLRFU IC's CEO Lasitha Gunaratne, had been present with the SLRFU's Administrative Manager, Seneaka Colombage. However, Colombage, was asked to leave by a senior official of the WPRFU Rizly Illyaz, as he was not invited, Gunaratne was asked to bring a letter.

The schools tournament is now to be conducted by the IC of the SLRFU on a request made by President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Disciplinary inquiry?

Fifteen players who pulled out from the national side to tour Dubai has sent a statutory notice under section 461 of the Civil Procedure through their attorneys to Sports Minister Lokuge. A second letter has been sent challenging the appointment of a three-member disciplinary committee to conduct an inquiry against the 15 players.

Royal survive scare to win

Royal College survived a fierce second half rally from their traditional rivals S. Thomas' College to register a thrilling 37 points to 33 points victory in their 47th annual inter school rugby encounter worked off at Mount Lavinia yesterday.

Royal College also retained the Michael Gunaratne Trophy for the fourth successive year while collecting their points from three goals, two tries and two penalties. The Thomians who were trailing 7-31 at half time came back strongly in the second half and responded with three goals, one penalty goal and one try.

Royal also increased their overall tally to 25 victories and came closer of recording the highest total in the series which still stands as 39-3.

Wesley triumph 28 - 5

Wesley College produced a fine second half rally to beat Thurstan College by 28 points to 5 points in their inter school rugby encounter worked off at Longden Place yesterday.

The Wesleyites who led 10-5 at half time cut loose in the second half.

Lanka Bell Wayamba' shines in Inter Provincial cricket tournament

The Lanka Bell Wayamba Provincial cricket team put on a superb performance in the inaugural inter provincial tournament 2008/09 organised by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The tournament is conducted by SLC in order to improve the standard of domestic cricket whereby the crŠme of the countries top cricketers are selected to represent 5 provincial teams.

Four tournaments were held in the inaugural season namely a one-day tournament, two Twenty 20 tournaments and a four day first class tournament. The Wayamba team had the distinction of qualifying for the finals of all 4 tournaments. The provincial season kicked off with the one day tournament where the  Wayamba team was declared joint champions with the Kandurata Provincial team when the final was interrupted by rain. This tournament was followed by the first Twenty 20 tournament where the Wayamba team clinched victory by defeating the Ruhuna Provincial team in the final. The next tournament conducted was the 4 day first class tournament where the Wayamba team emerged runners up to the Basnahira - North team. The final tournament of the season was the second Twenty 20 tournament where the Wayamba team retained the title defeating the Basnahira - South team in the final.

The Lanka Bell Wayamba team consisted of National players in the caliber of former national skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Jehan Mubarak, Micheal Vandort, Farveez Maharoof, spinning sensation Ajantha Mendis as well as seasoned campaigners such as Jeewantha Kulatunga, Lanka de Silva, Rangana Herath, Chanaka Welagedara and up and coming youngsters such as Isuru Udana, Shalika Karunanayaka, Kaushalya Lokuarachchi and Mahela Udawatta.

The Wayamba Team is sponsored by Lanka Bell Limited, which is the country's only truly Sri Lankan Telecommunication company and has been in the forefront of sports development in the country.

Anura Rohana, Mithun Perera share the lead in Nepal

By Lal Gunasekera

Sri Lanka's Anura Rohana fired a round of seven - under 65 to shoot to the top of the Surya Nepal Masters at the Gokarna Forest Resort. He had an one - over 73 in the first - round.

Rohana joined fellow Sri Lankan, the 22-year-old amateur, Mithun Perera (68, 70) to Share the lead at six-under 138.

Three shots behind the two Sri Lankans were Harinder Gupta on 141 (69, 72) followed by Shamin Jhan (71, 71) Nabin Mondal (72, 70) and Ashok Kumar (69, 73) who were all on 142.

Rohana's putting was the feature of his play and is hoping to win the title on this occasion. Perera on the other hand, managed two Birdies in the Second - round,  but kept his card free on any bogeys.

Hilton Colombo sponsors Ladies Golf

Hilton Colombo with the support of the new General Manager and Marketing & Communication Manager Gigi De Silva  have agreed to continue the sponsorship of the LGU medal/Hilton Grand Prix once again

This tournament will have 16 matches over the period of 12 months, out of which the best 12 scores will be counted.   The final best 10 placings are given to the best ten scores.

Eser Marketing  by 102 runs

Coming into bat first, Eser Marketing scored 199 for the loss of 9 wickets in 30 overs in the "F group" first round match of the Mercantile Limited over cricket tournament, against Loadstar played at the BRC grounds on    April 18.

Ishara Chathuranga and Dimuth Hettiarachchi top scored with 45 and 41 respectively, followed by Sameera Fernando with 28.

For Loadstar S.A.S.J. Pathinayaka and T.A.R.Pradeep bagged 2 wickets a piece for 26 and 14 respectively.

In reply Loadstar managed to put only 97 on the scoreboard with S.K.Dissanayak and N.R.Rajapakse scoring 21 and 17.

Sameera Fernando, Ishara Chathuranga and Dinusha Madhushanka bagged 2 wickets a piece for 18, 19 and 24 runs respectively, giving Eser Marketing a brilliant 102 run victory.

CIMA joins hands with SLTA

CIMA, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the world's leading and largest professional body of Management Accountants moved away form their traditional activity to join hands with the Sri Lanka Tennis Association  and sponsor the junior tennis teams taking part in the Junior Davis cup , Junior Fed cup and World Junior Girls and Boys competition  held in Yangon, Myanmar. 

Speaking at the handing over of the sponsorship package Bradley Emerson - Regional Director South Asia and the Middle East said "CIMA over the past four decades in Sri Lanka has been fulfilling aspirations of˙our youth.˙ Being associated with the junior tennis team to the Davis and FED cup˙is yet another opportunity for CIMA to be part of dreams and aspirations of young Sri Lankans and we are extremely privileged to be associated with the SLTA in this endeavour. Undoubtedly a lot of effort has gone into grooming this young outfit and CIMA wishes the youngsters a successful tournament.







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