Kumar Sangakkara and M.S. Dhoni, previewing the Compaq
Cup Final, remarked the greatest importance of winning
last Monday night would be the confidence derived for
this week’s eight-nation Champions Trophy in South
Africa. To propel “momentum’’ for the high-profile
competition among the ODI cricket’s top eight countries
is of crucial significance, they averred together, the
day before the Monday final.
won, and flew out to South Africa with optimism at the
brim; credibility of their world no.2 ODI rank restored
as well. Two nights before, their lofty standing was
questioned by a huge defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka.
Notoriously known as a team that chokes in a final,
crucially here, India discovered ways to win the win
that matters. So should they figure in the October 5,
final showdown in Centurion (which as no.2 they are
expected to), the legacy of the Compaq Cup final will
stand them in good stead.
though, will Monday’s defeat do to Sri Lanka?
Bummed-out, yes, at conceding the final to a team they
had thrashed only the other night. Bankrupt of hopes for
this week’s campaign, though, they aren’t. Sangakkara’s
men, in fact, can take a share of pluses that aren’t
normally losers’ entitlements. Just what those
advantages we’ll leave for later; for now, let’s dwell
on what was a captivating final.
eventual 46-run margin of victory (which suggest an
uninspiring contest) is a misnomer. But this final
wasn’t just about winners and losers; it had other
moments to remember. For one thing, it’s not often you
get to see first-hand the reasons why Sachin Tendulkar
is described the world’s greatest batsman. For the man
himself to say it was one of the best innings he has
played, you’d have to consider yourself fortunate to
have been at the Premadasa Stadium on that day.
produced all of the finest strokes from his armoury …
armoury? The inappropriateness of that word jars – like
aluminum thrust among precious metal! A more
appropriate simile for the array of his shot making
would be: a display of the finest jewels from his
Maharajah of old
deft cuts and glances, the drives and pulls were
executed with the grace and elegance of a batsman born
to cricketing aristocracy. So commanding was his
dominance over the toiling Sri Lankans, he might’ve been
a maharaja of old: Master of all he surveyed. He had
batted for all but four of India’s 50 overs to make a
133-ball 138, the 44th. ODI century in his 20-year
career. It was the head, body and tail of India’s
innings of 316, a peak that was always going to be
difficult to scale for the Sri Lankans.
of such enormity often leaves the questing side
diminished and defeated even before the job begins.
India, two nights before, was posed with a target
roughly the same as what they set the home side in the
final – and came up short by a stupendous 139 runs. This
wasn’t the first time either that India had shrivelled
when challenged to chase a huge Sri Lankan total. In the
2000 Sharjah tri-nation, set a target of 300 v.
Jayasuriya’s Sri Lankans, India crumbled for 54 in the
fate that befell the Indians two nights ago befalling
the Sri Lankans in the final wasn’t such a chimerical
prospect given the Premadasa pitch’s notoriety for
releasing all its demons on its night users. But those
demons were driven back. Huge as the task was, Sri
Lanka’s batsmen battled in the belief that it was
reachable. Visibly, the Indians at times were pushed
from frustration to fright. And that they were driven to
such depths of despair spoke much for the immense
character of the Sri Lankans – a team that stands up and
fight when the floor seems a better place to be on.
not many weeks ago, when placed in a similar situation
batting second, they overhauled
288 in the third ODI at Dambulla. Monday’s challenge was
of course sterner, and that it wasn’t conceded before a
stirring counterattack was waged, was a tribute to the
team’s strength of character under the new leadership of
Sangakkara – a necessary virtue for the coming battles
in South Africa: v. the host country on Tuesday; v.
England, Friday and New Zealand, next Sunday. To qualify
for the semifinal, we would have to finish second in the
group, a hopeful prospect given the daring displayed
against the world’s second best.
best advantage accruing for the lost final was the
new-found reliability of the middle order, frighteningly
fragile before last week’s competition. At 182/6 in the
28th over, the story of the final seemed as good as
over. But the middle order, through Kandamby and
Kapugedera, defied till the 40th over, at which point 80
was required, gettable given that five power-play overs
were in the bank yet. Of course, the magic figure was
not achieved, but the middle order had provided another
reason to believe its bad days are behind, just as it
did in the two previous matches.
Suffice it is to mention that the other batsman to join
Tendulkar as the event’s only centurions was middle
order, Samaraweera. And of the team’s three half
centurions, two were middle order batsmen: Kandamby,
twice, and Mathews.
top order, only Jayasuriya managed a half-century – and
that isn’t bad news either. After a run of four
single-digit contributions, his 98 and 36 against India
provides comforting thought that he goes to battle in
South Africa with his form and confidence regained. The
failure of our best two, Jayewardene and Sangakkara, can
only mean that their big innings are due in the South
Tendulkar in flight
bowling, admittedly, was disappointing in the final. But
it is unfair to measure their performance on a day when
Tendulkar was in sublime touch; even Australian attacks
with the likes of McGrath, Lee and Warne have been
brought down to earth by a Tendulkar in flight. It
shouldn’t be forgotten our medium pacers, Kulasekera,
Thushara, Malinga and Mathews, had previously restricted
India to 168 and New Zealand to 119. On South African
pitches far more conducive to them, the quartet’s
potential enhances considerably. Mendis, perhaps, made
least of the impressions, but then it’s a huge
consolation that Muralidaran would be available in South
Africa – freshened and eager to battle after sitting out
the entire Compaq Cup campaign.
Sangakkara’s leadership is barely into six months, and
though the ratio of success is remarkable, the proud man
would hardly be satiated. A regret that sticks in his
throat like a fish bone is the failure to win a final.
His team went undefeated all the way to final of T20
World Cup only to concede the match that mattered most;
ditto, the Compaq Cup final. He’ll not want to miss out
a third time should his team qualify for the final.
Win at least two games
the final is a long way away, with no easy yards to
traverse. What Sangakkara’s men will have to do
initially is win at least two of its three Group matches
England and New Zealand). The recent success over the
Kiwis provides hope for a repeat, but South Africa, no.1
in the world, is going to be tough. That it is the first
of our three Group encounters is a good thing, what ever
the outcome. A loss to the hosts would leave us with two
more games to redeem our semifinal chances. The recent
ODI form of both opponents hasn’t been encouraging:
was blanked by Australia in the recent six-match series,
and we all know what became of the Kiwis in Sri Lanka.
determined Sangakkara, however, doesn’t need any one to
tell him the advantages to be had from winning the
opening encounter, the best of which is that it would
virtually cover more than half passage to the
semifinals. No doubt he’ll inspire his team to try and
topple the world’s no.1 team, just as he did in the T20
World Cup opener against world champions, Australia.
So, though the Compaq Cup was lost, there’s no reason to
think the team’s confidence has been dented.
Tendulkar spoiled the party
the Indians won the toss at the Compaq tri series final
the advantage was with them. Something with the stats
show that the team batting first have an advantage over
the team following under lights. True as this may seem
it also requires the team batting first to post a
formidable total. The mere fact of winning the toss is
not quite enough, which point is lost amongst many. It
would be equal to saying that Sri Lanka would have won
if the Indians were restricted to 250 runs.
young players who watched this final would have noticed
how Sachin Tendulkar paced his innings. A perfect
example of a class act taking his team to comfort levels
by batting through to the end overs. Remember he did not
have a target to chase but to post as many runs as
possible taking minimum risks. In other words of players
at high level “play maximum percentage shots” to bring
home the bacon.
lads lent the Indians some help with wayward deliveries
and a plethora of full length ones. They capitalised on
these. Made full use of the extra deliveries in posting
300 plus some. We never got in though falling short of
margin may have looked smaller than what it really was
but there was no question of a Sri Lankan victory once
Kandamby and Kapugedera had departed.
Haji Omar: a great team man
By Dr. Tony de Sylva
Haji Omar, the former CR & FC and Ceylon Rugby captain
passed away on June 22, 2009 – and I lost a close
friend, a brother and a confidante, and a great rugby
mate. I had had lunch with him at the CR just two days
before his demise.
burst onto the local rugby scene in the early 1960s and
went on to become an invaluable member of the CR “pack”.
I first came to know him when I joined the CR & FC in
1967. I liked the man instantly and we became close
friends. He was a great “team man”, always encouraging
new members of the CR team. I recall vividly, how his
words of advice helped calm my nerves before my first
game against the Havelocks, played before a crowd of
over 15,000 people.
one of CR & FC’s and Ceylon’s best loose head prop
forwards. Combining his strength and remarkable
mobility, he was often seen covering the field in
support of the three quarters. With ball in hand, Haji
took the shortest route to the opposition goal line, and
in doing so, ran straight into and over defenders who
got in his way. This earned him the nickname of “The
Haji’s excellent qualities as a leader were best
demonstrated in 1969, when he took over the captaincy of
the CR & FC about a half hour into the opening game of
the season, after Mohan Sahayam, the captain, was
injured and did not return to play until the Semi Final
of the knockout. Haji led the CR through a long and
tough league season that lasted several months. The CR
team had six, sometimes seven, young players that year,
experiencing Clifford Cup rugby for the first time. It
is a testimony to his excellent leadership qualities,
not forgetting the astute coaching of Mahes Rodrigo,
that CR won the Clifford Cup that year, and seven of the
forwards represented Ceylon in the 1970 Rugby Asiad – a
feat that will be difficult to equal.
said that our journey in life is like a journey in a
train. We meet different people during that journey.
Some of them leave an everlasting impression on others
when they get off. Haji was one such person. I am
grateful he enriched my life with his friendship and
advice. Sadly, Haji has left the train for the final
time. May the earth always lie softly over him.
playing field, I had the good fortune to pack down on
the loose head side of the scrum and observe closely how
Haji worked over his opposite number, making life very
difficult for him. He displayed a toughness that pushed
him to play through injuries without lowering his
standard of play.
more than just an outstanding rugby player. When his
playing days were over, he worked tirelessly for the CR
& FC and for the SLRFU, becoming president of each
organisation, and he gave back to rugby, what he had
gained from the sport. He channelled his energy into
improving the standard of the game, as a whole in
invaluable contribution will be missed by all at the CR
& FC. He was always a staunch advocate of discipline, on
and off the field. He provided challenge and balance to
many discussions and debate around the committee table.
He was always extremely supportive of the Chair at such
meetings. He never sought a high profile but could not
help being in the limelight of rugby events. He worked
quietly for the good of the team in his playing days,
and for the CR & FC and the Rugby Union as a member of
several committees. His contribution to rugby in
Irwin in Sri Lanka
By Hafiz Marikar
Howie the famous ruggerite produced by Trinity College,
is here on a short holiday with his wife Yevette. Irwin
Howe is one of the finest fly halfs to come out of
Trinity College. He played for the school along with
players like Tikiri Marambe, Mohan Samarakoon, Sam
Samarasekera, Shafie Jainudeen, Anura Madawella, Nihal
Marambe and Mohan Balasuriya. Irwin won his rugger
colours in 1969 and the coveted Lion in 1971 along with
Y.S. Ping and Tikiri Marambe. From his school days he
was famous for his long range kick, up-and-unders and
leaving school he played for Dickoya MMC and from their
he went to CH & FC for a short stint. Irwin crossed
over to CR & FC where he gave his best and helped the
club to win several League and Knockout tournaments
with his knowledgable playing.
1975, he returned to his home town Kandy and played
first for Kandy SC under Iswan Omar in 1975 and
continued from their till he migrated to Australia in
the mid 1980’s. Irwin Howie was a master planner of the
game of rugby — especially for the Nittawela club and
took them to the 1978 Cup final. That year he was the
captain and coach, and brought in Sarath Imbuldeniya to
give him a helping hand in coaching.
1978 Irwin led
Kandy SC to the
Clifford Cup Final, after Denzil Kobbekaduwa’s 1969 Cup
final. Irwin’s Cup final team had players of the
calibre of Sunil Munasinghe, Sunil Serasinghe, Nimal
Malagamuwa, Lakshman Dullewewa, Tilak Jyasundara,
D.H.Rajaguru, Jerome Grey, Athula Manchanayake, Nihal
Ananda, Sen Uswan, Allan Vought, Gamage Ariyarathne,
Iftika Uvais, Chanlee Ching, and this writer. The team
was managed by late William Weerasinghe, and the
fighting Kandy SC went down to Havelocks SC led by Anton
Benedict and the 1969 Kandy SC Cup final skipper late
Denzil Kobbekkaduwa was the referee in this final.
that year 1978, Irwin got the opportunity of leading the
Sri Lanka side in the Asiad played in Malaysia, and had
three of Kandy SC players with him in that team — D.H.
Rajaguru, Sunil Munasinghe and Nimal Malagamuwa. Irwin
Howie, also coached schools like St. Anthony’s,
Dharmaraja and Trinity.
Irwin’s best rugby years was with Kandy Sports Club,
where he enjoyed the game and also got the break to lead
Kandy Sports Club, Up-Country and Sri Lanka. He gave his
best for the club. Irwin was present at the Clifford Cup
final on the 5th of this month, where his two former
clubs CR & FC and Kandy SC clashed in the final and his
favourite club ended up becoming champions. Irwin is
blessed with a son and daughter and all are residing in
Lady Captain’s Prize 2009
tournament which is a board event will take place on
September 23rd and 25th at Royal Colombo Golf Club,
and over 30 players are expected to participate this
will be a guest event and several lady players from
Victoria also will participate. The prize giving will be
held on September 25 with prizes and surprises and
dinner hosted by the Lady Captain.
Ritzbury Powers 20th Junior National Squash C’ships
National Squash Championships conducted by the Sri Lanka
Squash Federation and sponsored by Ritzbury Chocolates
will be held at the Gymkhana Club Squash Courts in
Colombo from 17 to 24 October this year.
commenced in 1990, in preparation for the Asian Junior
Championships which were held in
Colombo in January 1991, the Junior National Squash Championships
are today considered
Lanka’s premier squash tournament of the year.
national ranking tournament, this year’s championships
are billed to feature great squash and performances of a
very high standard, especially with the participation of
top ranked players. The eight day long tournament will
consist of 18 events which include: Boys and Girls Under
09, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19, Novices Juvenile Boys and
Girls Under 12 and Under 15, and also Novices Junior
Boys and Girls Under 19.
year’s Junior National Squash Championships will feature
the ‘Circuit Draw System’ thus ensuring fair
participation and with more matches to all top ranked
players. Entries will be accepted only at the SLSF
Secretariat, Tamil Union C&A Club,
08 up to 5.00 pm on Monday, 12 October 2009. The draw will be held at
pm the same day. The age cut-off date will be
01 July 2009.
Hsbc gold tournament to tee off in style!
HSBC 5-Club Stableford Golf Tournament will take place
at the Royal Colombo Golf Club (RCGC) on September 18
and 20. The tournament organised for the 15th
consecutive year, will be open to HSBC Premier customers
and to all members of the men’s section and ladies
section of the Royal Colombo Golf Club with a valid
first Stableford Golf Tournament was sponsored by HSBC
with a shot-gun start in 1994 and was subsequently
changed to a 5-Club Tournament in 1998. The awards
ceremony will be held today, September 20 at the RCGC
premises, and all category winners will be awarded with
fabulous prizes. The highlight of the event is that the
overall winner will be hosted by the Bank to attend the
HSBC Champions Tournament, held once a year in November
event will not only maintain the tournament’s format of
bringing together tournament winners from all over the
world, but will also include the best players from the
International Federation’s Tours. World Number 1 Tiger
Woods and defending Champion Sergio Garcia have already
confirmed their entries in the world-class field.
ICC awards snub can motivate South Africa, says Smith
skipper Graeme Smith said on Friday the failure of his
players to make the 2009 ICC awards short-list could
motivate them to win the Champions Trophy.
not individual recognition that drives us,” said Smith
after the hosts found themselves alone among the eight
contenders for the mini-World Cup in not receiving an
are driven by what we want to achieve as a team and have
had an amazing couple of years,” Smith told a
pre-tournament media conference in the north-west
university town of
a little disappointing that not a single South African
made the shortlist in any category because we are the
number one team in both Test and ODI cricket.
that shows the strength of the team and perhaps the lack
of ICC award nominations could be a motivating factor,”
Smith said ahead of the Champions Trophy opener on
September 22 against Sri Lanka in Centurion.
Mickey Arthur also said the “very disappointing” failure
of any Protea to make a four-man short-list in five
categories would motivate his squad as they seek a first
ICC title since winning the Champions Trophy 11 years
Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola
reacted angrily to a short-list including nominations
for India (six), Australia (four), England (three), Sri
Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies (two each) and New Zealand
looks like the only way to get nominated is to play in
the Ashes, but our players don’t play for England or
Australia. That seems to be the criteria to select these
awards,” he said in a radio interview.
last season was one of the best for South Africa and
there were a lot of outstanding performances by our
players. I believe there were at least three South
Africans who should have featured on the shortlist.”
conceded ring rustiness was a concern with their last
ODI - a 47-run home defeat by
in a dead rubber - staged five months ago at the
Wanderers in Johannesburg.
is a challenge we have to deal with — the lack of
competitive cricket. But our training sessions have been
very good and we have worked hard at overcoming the lack
of match practice.
the other hand we have had a good break and the squad is
feeling fresh and ready to go. I think freshness may be
an important factor in a tournament involving a lot of
cricket in a short time.”
Sri Lanka, New Zealand and England comprise one group
and defending champions
India, Pakistan and the West Indies the other for the
September 22 - October 5 tournament in
80x80 to replace Kandy Sevens
By Hafiz Marikar
international rugby competition is to replace the 10
year old Kandy Sports Club organised Singer-Srilankan
Airlines International Sevens. This sevens tournament
which was one of the most popular rugby tournaments of
the year did not take place this year due to reasons
known best to the organisers. Now they are hoping to
have a 80x80 in
Kandy, where the infrastructure is excellent for a tournament of
this caliber and also the spectator interest is much
greater than in
former Australian Rugby Union Chairman Dilip Kumar who
is behind the new tournament, his mission being to make
the rugby playing nations of the world unite. Dilip
played for Trinity, Dimbulla and Up-Country.
Dilip who first brought in the 80x80 tournament — this
game is very similar to the normal game of rugby as we
know it, the essential difference is that the average
weight of a player on the pitch cannot exceed 80kg. and
the weight of an individual player cannot exceed 88kg.
now some of Dilip’s close friends like Mohan Samarakoon
who were involved with the second 80x80 International
in Bangkok in 2006, together with Iswan Omar, Anura
Madawela, Saliya Udugama to name a few are going all out
to make this tournament a reality in Sri Lanka, for
which the entire organising committee of the Singer-Sri
Lankan Airlines Sevens from Kandy has promised their
fullest support in organising the tournament.