7th March, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 34

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SPORTS

Mobitel Test Series. 

Lanka to test Aussie might

By Ranil Prematilake 

In the back of the minds of the world champions, Australia lies a spot of bother, which in effect is the only black mark in an otherwise dominant run in the test arena as the world's No. 1 team. Simply they have faltered under testing circumstances in the sub continent. It comes as no surprise the overnight inclusion of Shane Warne into the test side in a desperate bid to curb the badly exposed Aussie bowling department minus the consistent Glenn McGrath. The preceding Indian tour speaks for itself.

Sanath Jayasuriya's men brought Aussies down to earth when the baggy green caps featured in the island three seasons ago, although it has been an upward drive from then onwards.

The Galle International Cricket Stadium since its introduction has been a happy hunting ground for the host nation. 

Therefore, the setting for the first Test statistically provides an advantage for the Lankans. However, come Monday, Ricky Ponting and crew would be a different kettle of fish altogether. It is most likely that the leg-spinning duo of Warne and Stuart McGill would make it to the final XI. 

The aggressive Aussie top order have got into the habit of piling up 300 plus scores in just three sessions of play. The run machines Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Lehmann, Katich and Gilchrist are not the most pleasant sites an opposition would prefer to counter. The challenge is before Hashan Tillakaratne and Co. All of the above named have no fear of using their feet when facing the spinners, which concern has attributed immensely to the success story.

The Sri Lankan camp is not in any way short of experience though the lessons learnt from such experiences leave much to be desired. The national selectors have re-laid their confidence with the old warriors - a privilege enjoyed in only this neck of the woods.

Prolific Kumar Sangakkara has gone without a century for 14 Test matches since compiling a masterly 230 against the Pakistanis in the Asian Championship Final. Not every one can play the role of Adam Gilchrist or Mark Boucher. Even so they bat down the order and not at the all-important No.3 slot. The 26-year-old elegant left-hander has done his best not to become a victim of circumstances. Talented Prasanna Jayawardena is left in the lurch for purported inadequacy with the willow instead of boosting up his confidence. Also the impressive run of Thilan Samaraweera in his revised role as a test batsman leaves little or no space for a specialist stumper.

Sri Lanka would in all probability go in for the first of the three tests with only four front line bowlers. Chaminda Vaas, Muttaih Muralitharan, Nuwan Zoysa and Kaushal Lokuarachchi or Upul Chandana. One of the latter two are tipped to get the nod ahead of Rangana Herath who came in for some stick from the Aussies in the warm up game.

The return of lanky Nuwan Zoysa at a time when young prospects Dilhara Fernando and Prabath Nissanka are on the injured list is a blessing in disguise for the Lankan camp. Zoysa seems to have finally woken up and looks a man determined to prove his potential. His reaction immediately after dislodging the ball to the fence for the winning runs in the fifth and final one day international filled in the unfound aggression of the Sri Lankan lower order.

Anticipation of a world record either by Murali or Warne can be a remote prospect as far as this series is concerned, as the stakes are too high for either of them to dominate the series. However, the race for the 500-wicket mark will draw much enthusiasm.

Sri Lankan openers Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya have come in for much criticism of late and many consider that Jayasuriya is on borrowed time. The southpaw has got an ideal opportunity to end the lean run in his hometown. The Aussie speedsters Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee had the correct measure of Jayasuriya in the limited over series and will pursue on the same lines to disturb his defence. Whether Jayasuriya had adopted a method to curb this shortcoming could be witnessed in the weeks to come.

The Aussies take the field tomorrow minus the legendary Stephen Waugh. They would no doubt miss the solid concrete establishment. There certainly is a huge vacuum in the upper middle order and the advantage of having two world-class fast bowlers in their rung would not be of much use in exploiting the Galle wicket. The two nations weighing the pros and cons are on an equal footing ahead of the first Test.


Lectra monthly medal - February 2004

Fielding over 45 players, this month's monthly medal will go down in the books of Victoria Golf & Country Resort - quite prominently as the scores were amazing with eight players returning scores well under the 70 stroke mark.

The monthly medal at Victoria has become a keenly contested event, as the LECTRA Grand Prix sponsored by Apparel Technologies (Pvt) Ltd - draws to a close in May 2004. A fabulous array of prizes is up for grabs, including airline tickets for the winner of each division.

This month's LECTRA monthly medal was won by Sidath Hemachandra (Gateway Kandy International School), who played an excellent round to card a nett 61, whilst his twin brother Samapth, not to be outdone returned a score of nett 66 - neck and neck with Sam Gunaratne and Chamil Wickreasinghe. Sam Gunaratne's score on the back nine holes allowed him to claim the runners-up position of the February monthly medal. Noteworthy scores were also achieved by Sidath Wettimuny - Nett 67, Binupa Wijesinghe - Nett 68 and Suhyab Sangani - Nett 69.

The ladies division too was keenly contested this month, with an above average participation. Suven Selvaratnam who reigns supreme on the Lectra Grand Prix board returned a score of Nett 71 to set an early lead, followed by Manori Jayakody - nett 72. The afternoon round of play was the deciding factor as Chaturi Engman carded a nett 70 to clinch the ladies title.

The Hemachandra twins dominated Junior Division with Sidath & Sampath being the winner and runner-up respectively. The winner of the mini junior division, which allows children under 14 years to enjoy 9 holes of competitive golf, was Shamara Wettiuny whilst Rudrani Devdas claimed the runners-up position.

Lectra Grand Prix points tally

Division 1

Binupa Wijesinghe -1019, Sam Gunaratne - 662, Sahil Malhotra - 656, Sidath Wettimuny - 635, Sanjay Wettimuny - 605, Srinivas Rao - 350, Mervin Hettiarchchi- 330, Tony Whitham - 270, Rohan De Silva - 185, Primal Wijayanayake - 170

Division 2

Chamil Wickremasinghe - 736, Veinert Holm - 543, Sidath Hemachandra - 482, Michael Emmott - 422, Ananda Manawadu - 412, K Hama - 369, Majid Awn - 354, Alex Perera - 351, Sampath Hemachandra - 302, Poul Rasmussen - 285

Ladies Division

Suven Selvaratnam - 332, Niloo Jayatilake - 326, Indira Tibblin - 284, Chaturi Engman - 226, Roshini Sangani - 141, Manori Jayakody - 137, Sally Collins - 135, Yvonne Abhayaratne - 83, Ingrid Baum - 70, Arlene Kelaart - 40.


  • 125th 'Battle of the Blues'

Royal firm favourites in the historic encounter

By Sunil Thenabadu 

The 125th Royal-Thomian annual cricket encounter, easily the greatest sporting event in tradition and the longest uninterrupted series in world history is scheduled to be held on the 11, 12 and 13 March at the picturesque SSC grounds in Maitland Place. The sequence even survived the two world wars and the civil war in the North East.

Hence the 'Battle of the Blues' is sacred to all, and naturally the event evokes tremendous interest not only among the old boys and the present boys, but also among the sporting public at large.

The matches over 124 years were played, conforming to the highest traditions of sportsmanship, of course with intense rivalry.  S.Thomas' College is a private Anglican school, in Mt.Lavinia with about 3000 students on roll while Royal is a government run prestigious school in Colombo 7 with around 8000 students.

The encounter is played for the D.S.Senanayake memorial shield. D.S. donned the Thomian cap in 1901 and 1902.  The encounter not only involves the great game of cricket but the fun and frolic which simultaneously goes with it, makes it the greatest showpiece of the year.  The thousands of old boys who have migrated overseas make use of this opportunity to visit Sri Lanka, especially to witness this match to renew links with old friends here and to meet those domiciled abroad.

 The authorities past and present of the two schools have made very appropriately this event a very significant one by giving it the deserved publicity by organising a sequence of memorable events to coincide with this unique milestone.

The most difficult task of publishing 'The history of Royal-S.Thomas' cricket match 125' was undertaken jointly by the Royal College union and S.Thomas' College old boys association. This book was launched on 6 November 2003.  The launching ceremony of this commemorative book published for the 125th encounter was made in the presence of guests of honour R.Renganathan, Managing Director M/s Ceylinco Insurance Co.Ltd., Principal of Royal and Warden of S.Thomas,' Ajitha M. Pasqual, Additional General Manager, Seylan Bank Ltd., sponsors of this book, past captains and other distinguished guests.

In the latter part of January a Rs 4.50 denomination commemorative stamp '125 years of Royal- Thomian,' was launched.  The cancellation of the first day cover was ceremonially held under the patronage of the Prime Minister and the Post and Telecommunications Minister, at the Royal College hall.  Royal Principal Upali Gunasekera and Warden Dr. David Ponniah of S.Thomas' were present. The stamp came into circulation from 30 January.

In order to strengthen the links of friendly rivalry, which prevailed for a century and quarter period certainly calls for elaborate celebrations.  Another significant event organised is the meeting of the Royalists with the Thomians in their joint walk held on 21 February Saturday, to show their solidarity and tradition forgetting the intense rivalry.  It was not merely of a procession of schoolboys carrying their school flags.  It was a colourful event involving present and past boys together with members of the staff, parents, and well wishers who walked along a planned route.

It was a magnificent pageant depicting the strong bonds of friendship, goodwill and tradition that had, already  existed. Members of the illustrious old boy groups v.i.z., Mustangs, Stallions, Colts, too were present in their numbers to add muscle to this wonderful event.  Prime Minister flagged off the parade from the Royal College grounds, which ultimately culminated at the Royal College sports complex. This walk was sponsored by M/s Caltex who will also be celebrating their 125th anniversary this year.

M/s Dialog GSM powers the 125th 'Battle of the Blues' by sponsoring this encounter for the fourth consecutive year, has also undertaken to sponsor the limited overs encounter on 20 March under lights at the R.Premadasa Stadium.

The Chairman of the 125th Royal-Thomian organising committee. R.Udayakumar speaking at the press briefing at the Hotel Galadari on 24 February emphasised on the history of this uninterrupted record series where even the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka D S Senanayake, Premier Dudley Senanayake played for S.Thomas' in 1927-1929. The first elected executive President J.R.Jayewardene and Premier Sir John Kotelawela represented Royal College in 1925 and 1914 respectively. He was grateful to the committed Principal of Royal College and Warden of S.Thomas'College for their guidance and for the co-operation of the staff and students of both schools in making an gigantic endeavour to make this event a resounding success. The official sponsor for F & B will be Ceylon Cold Stores and Keells.  As a part of the celebrations 'Blues 125' carnival was organised jointly by the old boys of the two colleges which was held on 26, 27 and 28 February at the Thomian grounds.

The old boy's charity dinner will be held, today at the Hotel Hilton. Proceeds will be in aid of the S.Thomas' library project. This event will be part of the celebrations to herald another landmark event to this historic encounter. The Prime Minister will be the chief guest while S.Skandakumar and Dr.David Ponniah will propose the toast.   The traditional old boy's matches will be played today at the CCC grounds.  Both over 40's and over 50's matches will be restricted to a 25 overs aside. Many stalwarts who have performed admirably in the past big matches would be seen in action.

Since gaining full ICC Test status in 1981, 14 past Royalists and Thomians have played in official Tests/ODI's.  They are present chief, ICC match, referee Ranjan Madugalle, Jayantha Amerasinghe, Asantha de Mel, Rohan Jayasekera, Roshan Jurampathy, Jehan Mubarak for Royal while Duleep Mendis, Saliya Ahangama, Guy de Alwis, Ishak Sahabdeen, Kapila Wijeyagunawardena, Kausheek Amalean, Nisal Fernando and Aruna Gunawardena for the Thomians.

Thomians lead the victories tally with 33 to Royal's 32 while 29 encounters have ended in no decisions. Of course many have ended in thrilling finishes. Of the total number of 41 batsmen who have notched up centuries for both colleges, 19 of them were Royalists.

The last one was made in 2003 by Ganganath Ratnayake, skipper of Royal team in 2002 who made an unbeaten 111 following the match saving  knock of 75 runs he made in the 1st innings of the same match, thus becoming the only second Royal batsman to achieve his remarkable feat.  Incidentally he was the vice -captain of our U/19 team for the mini world cup held recently.

Sumithra 'Charlie' Warmakulasuriya holds the highest individual score in the series by scoring a marathon 197 runs in 1980 occupying the crease for eight hours and 20 minutes.  While making this epic innings, he has tattooed his name in gold letters in the record books.  He eclipsed the record held by renowned Duleep Mendis who made 184 in 1972.  Incidentally Warnakulasuriya while making the century became the second Royalist to make a debut 100 after Jagath Pattiarachchi made 100 not out in 1974.  The fastest 100 was notched by Royalist Neil Joseph who made a scintillating 113 in 1925 in only 65 minutes.

The following year too he made another sparkling century by eclipsing his previous year's score by making 133 runs. For the Thomians former Sri Lanka skipper Duleep Mendis and his nephew Manoj Mendis have scored delightful successive centuries in 1971, 1972, and 1992,1993 respectively.  Manoj while scoring 124 runs in 1992, eclipsed the record debut century score held by David Ponniah, the present Warden of S.Thomas' made way back in 1967.

The highest partnership for any wicket is held by Royal's Anushka Polonowita (164) and Y.Dharmarathne (124) who added 254 runs for the third wicket in 1996.  Thomian F.Thomasz who captured eight wickets for just three runs in 1884 holds the best bowling figures while M.O.Gooneratne, also a Thomian records the best all round performance in the encounter in 1935 when he scored 103 runs and captured 7 wickets for 34 runs.  Twenty eight bowlers 14 from either side have taken match hauls of 10 wickets or more. Thomian L.H.Arndt's 14 for 55 in 1906 remains the best of the lot for nearly ten decades. The highest individual aggregate is held by Thomain Upeka Fernando who scored 392 runs during 1995-1998.  Barney Gunasekera's (1930) 148 runs and 9 for 105 and Rochana Jayawardene's (1983) 143 n.o. and 9 for 73 are the two best all round performances recorded for Royal while M.O. Gooneratne's (1935) 107 and 8 for 66 and Ian Pieris's (1953) 123 and 6 for 64 are the two best all round efforts by the Thomians.  During the entire series since 1880 only three bowlers have performed the 'hat-tricks.'  G.P.Keuneman of Royal while S Elapata and R.Mahapatuna achieved these feats for S.Thomas'in the years 1901, 1945 and 1997 respectively.

Royal is captained by Tharaka Kottehewa a 3rd year coloursman who has represented SL U/15, U/17 and is a reliable allrounder, while Navin Dias is the deputy skipper also a 3rd  year coloursman and the most prolific scorer in the team having made over 1000 runs this season.  He has made two centuries and captured 25 wickets.  Ganganath Ratnayake, a 5th  year coloursman is the most experienced and a dependable player.  He was the vice- captain of SL U/19 squad to the mini world cup and is a good allrounder.

Heshan Morawake is another useful allrounder having scored over 500 runs including a century and has captured over 40 wickets with his left arm leg spinners.  Janith Jayewardena, is the stumper of the side, a 3 year coloursman, is a reliable batsman. Nadun Punchihewa, aleftarm leg spinner and a fresher is surprisingly the highest wicket taker this year. Chathuranga Somapala opens bowling with his skipper, has taken over 30 wickets this season. Opener Dimithri Siriwardena, a great grand nephew of legendary Sargo Jayawickrema is the opening batsman who possesses a correct technique and temperament is expected to come good on this big occasion.

S.Thomas' is captained by 3rd year coloursman wicket keeper, right hand dashing batsman Kaushal Silva who represented SL U/19 in the mini world cup. His deputy is Vidyesh Balasubramaniam, also a 3rd year coloursman and the highest wicket taker this year. Batting strength revolves around Isuru Warnakulasuriya, Navin Perera and Sanjeew Mendis, Promuditha Rodrigo and Charith de Silva. There is a variety in the bowling department with pace and spin of Nigel Adams, Mendis, Rodrigo, Balasubramaniam, Shanthi Kumar and Ravinath Panduwawala.

In the elephant lemonade inter school points table Royal by virtue of better performances this season occupies the higher position than the Thomians.  Royal has a well balanced all round side with many experienced players.  It is the fervent hope that both captains adopt positive ploys and play attractive cricket in the best spirits with a view to bringing about a result in this historic encounter.


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