Champions Trophy 2004
sixteen day mini cricket gala confrontation involving the ten
test playing nations and minnows Kenya and debutants United
States of America gets underway on 10 September in the land
where the game was born.
nations vying for cup glory face the inevitable exit from the
tournament, a lone blunder itself being the requisite from the
word go. The round robin games will be composed of four groups
with the top team in each group advancing to the semi - final
stage. The probabilities of joint defending champions Sri
Lanka claiming the trophy is a much anticipated thought
banking on their impressive 16 match winning streak in the
last 17 outings. The first hurdle should not be
much of an issue. On 14 Tuesday Marvan Atapattu's team
takes on the inexperienced Tatenda Taibu's Zimbabweans at the
Oval. Three days on comes the crunch test at the hands of
hosts England. The match is scheduled to be played at the Rose
Bowl. The composition of the Lankan squad has undergone a
series of changes since the last tour down under. The
whitewashing of the pro teas minus spinning legend Muttiah
Muralitharan has given the Sri Lankans an enhanced reputation
of her being a world beater.
destructive appearance of Dr. Death in Chaminda Vaas could be
the key factor of Sri Lanka's progress to the final, which
takes place on 25 September at the Oval. The main concern for
the Sri Lankan think tank would be to decide on the slot for
the co - openers berth. The choice would be between Avishka
Gunawardena and Saman Jayantha, with the one piling up runs in
the opening match favoured to join Sanath Jayasuriya for the
England game. The top order seems well settled for the time
being. The trio of Atapattu, Sangakkara and Jayawardena has
finally matured to pile up runs reminiscing the legendary
brigade of Gurusinghe, De Silva and Ranatunge a much feared
entity in the latter stages of their illustrious careers.
Sri Lanka to reach the final the disposal of the mighty
Australians in the semis becomes imperative. However, the
other end of the draw could see the high profile Indians, a
much media hyped squad facing the West Indians whose run in
the shorter version of the game has been far more impressive
than the test performances. Its not only Brian Lara anymore as
lanky Chris Gayle and budding skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan too
have proven the ability to change the complexion of a one
dayer single handedly.
emergence of a crop of young seamers must be a sigh of relief
for the Lankan camp. To add to such discoveries the dream
comeback of Nuwan Zoysa definitely makes the Lankan seam
attack a world class entity. Let's hope that young Farveez
Maharoof would not suffer the same fate as his recent
predecessors. Indika Gallage, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Charitha
Buddhika Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekara Hasantha Fernando etc. who
were not provided the necessary backing to build their
confidence and thereby fading into darkness in quick time.
Kaushal Lokuarachchi was taken through a longer learning
curve, whilst the persistence with Upul Chandana is finally
starting to reap benefits. It could well be that the scent of
a younger bloke breathing down his neck pushes the experienced
campaigners to make that extra effort which makes the
difference in the international stage. Also the exposure of
Rangana Herath and the return of Murali will minimize the
burden on the aging Sanath Jayasuriya, who keeps on rolling
his arm with the same effect as years go by.
Kumar Sangakkara is slowly but surely going up in rank to
claim a rightful captaincy post. The former Trinity skipper
now playing for Nondescript Cricket Club in the domestic
circuit, is already amongst the top 10 batsmen in the all time
limited over list of Sri Lankan internationals. A feat which
he achieved during the course of his 71 run innings in the
fifth and final one dayer against the South Africans. Of late
Kumar has become the darling of the electronic media covering
the recently concluded Asia Cup and the South African tour.
Deservingly so the well spoken of left hand batsman walked
away with the Man of the Series award a few days back.
rated Marvan Atapattu has managed to instil the fighting
qualities which seemed to be alienating from the Lankan camp.
His shrewd leadership has now taken the island nation to the
second slot in the limited over rankings. However, an area
which still needs attention is the ground fielding in the
close in areas as direct hits in the modern game makes a world
of a difference.
conditions in the Old Blighty have to be familiarized. The
ball is expected to take swing alarmingly in the first session
of play, Countering such movement in the event of batting
first would be a decisive role for the Lankan top order, whose
main worry and threat is to come in the form of gentle giant
Steve Harmison. All is well when playing on placid flat
tracked wickets. Making runs in unfamiliar conditions draws
the distinction between a good and a world class batsman.
Aravinda De Silva has called it a day; the new generation has
all the opportunity to be on par with Sri Lanka's master
batsman. Marvan, Kumar and Mahela have only set the platform
to be so.
monthly medal at Victoria
Lanka Limited sponsored the August monthly medal at Victoria
Golf & Country Resort. This is the second time that
Energizer has come forward to sponsor the August monthly medal
at Victoria Golf & Country Resort. Mr. Ranjth Ediisinghe
Brand Manager for Energizer has been in the forefront in
organizing this tournament.
Hemachandra returning an excellent nett 61 clinched the
monthly medal this month, Chamil Wickremasinghe, who carded a
score of nett 67 (gross 79) became the runner up. Chamil has
been in great form; he won the Ole Apple Junior Championship
held at Royal Colombo Golf Club the day before. So this win
was definitely a feather to his cap as he was playing to a
Wijesinghe, appearing at Victoria after a long absence,
dominated the Gross Division this month. He returned a
fantastic Gross 74, whilst Chamil returning a Gross 79 claimed
the runners-up position.
Jayatilake returning a score nett 70 won the Ladies division,
whilst Indira Tibblin was placed runner up with a Nett 74. It
was a close game this month with a large number of ladies
present to do battle for the title.
to be outdone by the twin brother Sampath, it was Sidath
Hemachandra who claimed the Junior Division prize. Sidath
returned a nett 77. Sanjay Wettimuny who had carded a nett 78
had to settle for the runner-up position.
scramble for positions in the Lectra Grand Prix Board has
begun. In the Gross Division Binupa Wijesinghe has set the
standard by placing himself in the lead with 50 points, with
just one monthly medal under his belt. Chamil Wickramasinghe
and Praith Fernando closely follow him.
Wickremasinghe who is in the lead with 940 points dominates
the Nett Division. With Roshan Dias, Klaes Rasmussen who are
placed second and third respectively. The Ladies division
rankings show Manori Jayakoddy placed first and Niloo
Jayatilake second. Apparel Technologies, sole agents for
Lectra solutions from France sponsor the Lectra Grand Prix at
Victoria Golf & Country Resort.
SINGER/SRILANKAN Sevens this week decides Asia's World Cup
push to join irb world circuit
CASE it has escaped your notice, the sixth edition of the
popular SINGER/SRILANKAN International Rugby Sevens will be
upon us this week. With the SLRFU in the throes of litigation
and the consequential suspension more than a month ago of the
premier club season, rugby these days is spoken for its unholy
rows than, as it should, for the things that happen on field.
the SINGER/SRILANKAN unsurprisingly has been clouded by the
acrimonious controversies, the heated cross talk between rival
parties and presently the courthouse battle. The intention
here is to not dwell on the unpleasant details of a
controversy that has dragged the union down to its most
pitiful state ever in its' history of over a century. But,
given that off-field troubles have pushed out the good game
from public minds, it might have been helpful had organizers
initiated a better awareness campaign of the September 10-12
event. The first piece of news, however, came only last
Tuesday. An international tournament deserves more than a
l0-day notice, but regrettably, that's all what the public
gets in respect of the SINGER/SRILANKAN Sevens.
seems as if the thing has been suddenly sprung upon on us.
That ought not have been the case, especially this year's
event, which will be unlike any you've seen before and,
probably, might not see again anytime in the discernible
future. Some time in the distant past it was announced that
the event would be a departure from the SINGER/SRILANKAN, as
we know it: an invitational tournament. This year, however, it
is an IRB designated qualifier to decide which three countries
from the Asian continent will compete in the
once-in-four-years World Cup Sevens Final in Hong Kong next
March. A tournament with links to a World Cup final is hugely
significant, but inexplicably the public is getting to know
about it a mere few days before the kick-off.
is difficult to say where things might have gone wrong. But
with the IRB approval stamp on the event, much of the official
responsibilities will have to rest with the SLRFU, though
Kandy SC do all the physical arrangements, as they have
previously. And with the SLRFU spending much of the past month
in lawyers' chambers and the courthouse, on-passing
information to media might well have been relegated to a
that as it may, the event could hardly have escaped the notice
of the Kandy public. There's been feverish activity for months
in and around Nittawela, the event's new venue. A new
grandstand has been put in place and existing stands have been
enlarged, as have the dressing rooms. As well, a media centre
has been inserted. The old structures have been given a dab of
fresh paint. A new VIPs car park, too, has been carved out.
The landscape up there on the Nittawela hill is a whole lot
more different, the re-make costing a whopping Rs. 20m.
doesn't make business sense to plough that sort of investment
into a one-off event. To be sure, organizers Kandy SC's sights
are set further a-field. The dream of hitching the SINGER/SRILANKA
to the IRB World Series circuit has long been nursed by
organizers and sponsors. The world body doesn't give its
sanctioned events to any country for the mere asking. It has
to be convinced about the host country's capabilities of
running the event successfully - and the IRB's benchmark is
the Hong Kong Sevens or thereabouts. The decision to give Sri
Lanka the hosting of the Asian World Cup qualifying
tournament, apparently, is the outcome of the persistent
seeking of World Series status for the SINGER/SRILANKAN
IRB team of 12 officials, including referees, at Nittawela
this weekend will do more than take in the lovely sights.
Obviously a few of them are observers - to study if the
country is worthy of joining the World Series. The other
condition is the hosting- fee of $100, 000 payable to the IRB.
But the diminishing market for the World Series won't be lost
on the IRB. Where there once were 10 countries hosting the
series, there's now eight, and not all of them, reportedly,
have proved viable undertakings. ''Because some countries have
withdrawn from the series owing to financial losses, there are
fewer prospective takers. I think the situation is right to
negotiate with the IRB on their asking fee - that is if they
are happy with our organizing ability," said Izwan Omar,
SLRFU secretary and the event's organizing committee chairman.
that is in the unknown of the future. But this much is
certain: there will be quite some stirring stuff served up
this weekend at Nittawela. The competing 12 nations won't see
the event as something of a working-holiday, which the five
previous invitational tournaments were. With World Cup berths
to play for, the intentions will be deadly serious. The Japan
squad flew in on Sept.1 and the Koreans two days later to
spend their final phase of preparation in the conditions they
will battle in. By tomorrow, the other nine overseas teams -
China, Guam, Chinese-Taipei, Kazakhstan, Arabian Gulf,
Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India - would likely have
Lanka's 20-man pool assembled last weekend in Kandy. That the
nine Colombo players were billeted in private homes isn't
quite complementary of what the SLRFU is willing to invest on
the players' preparation. And the present freeze placed on the
club season means the players would have been out of
competitive rugby for over a month. That our preparation is
underdone wouldn't be an exaggeration, and making any
optimistic forecast would be unwise.
some officials have done just that, basing their optimism on
the fact that our group opponents are Thailand and Kazakhstan,
neither an Asian rugby giant. With two of the three teams in
each of the four groups qualifying for the quarterfinals of
the Cup event, all Sri Lanka has to do is to win just one of
their group matches to join the race for one of the three
World Cup berths. But presuming victory over Thailand or
Kazakhstan is being a tad too imaginative. Of course, we beat
the Thais in fifteens not long ago, but in the previous
meeting, they trounced us 72/0 at the Asiad. The Kazakhs two
years ago drubbed us bad, also in the denser version.
more realistic hope would be to win out the bowl. Any notions
of finishing among the top three and qualifying for the World
Cup final alongside the All Blacks, Wallabies, the Springboks,
England, Fiji is. well, to believe that pigs can fly.
on battlefield - and court
Jayamuni Bertie Silva looks out of the aircraft window in the
early minutes of his flight to Athens, Friday next, fate's
irony is not likely to escape his thoughts. Much of the view
from the window would be a blanket of treetops that will
remind him of the northern jungles - which is where he stepped
on a landmine and lost his left foot in 1996.
not a nice experience to have a foot blown out of you, but I
am not complaining about my misfortune," said the
27-year-old soldier, packing his bags for the Para Olympics in
Athens this month. ''My life in some ways has got better _
Greece is the eighth country I would've visited. Not long ago
the chance of getting on an airplane and flying off to some
foreign land was only a dream. I didn't even bother to take
out a passport then."
Silva now has a passport, with exotic destinations stamped on
it: Bangkok, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney,
The Hague, and Antwerp, and shortly Athens _ all journeys as
Sri Lanka representative to international wheelchair tennis
competitions. ''Life as a wheelchair tennis player has been
very rewarding," says Silva, an infantryman of 17 years.
is he happier now than he was before 1996? He is; but not
entirely because he's travelling the world. ''Let's put it
this way _ it's better to lose a foot than your life,"
answers the father of two. And tells this remarkable story of
providence: '' it was my fifth week in the Army hospital after
amputation, and worrying how I was going to cope with the
future. In that depressing mood I heard the news that my camp
at Mullaitivu has been overrun. " Over 1,500 perished in
think it was God's and my wife and children's blessings that
took me out of the Mullaitivu camp about five weeks before it
was captured by the enemy." That hopelessness while lying
in his hospital bed disappeared. ''I realized I had been
rescued from a far graver fate, and decided to make best use
of life's second chance than sulk over misfortunes."
And so he became the man in the old fable that
complained he had no shoes until he saw someone without feet.
son of a simple lorry driver remembers well the day and time
when his life changed: around 5.30 a.m. on July 6, 1996.
''Eight of us had set out at 7 the previous night into the
jungles on ambush duty. What we do in these stealth-operations
is take cover in trees and behind shrubs and watch out for
enemy movements. A perfect operation would be to have ambushed
the enemy," recalled Silva. "That night had been a
quiet turn of duty - in fact, there was nothing to report to
as the first rays of sunlight filtered into the dark,
blanketed jungle, the eight weary soldiers trekked back - with
thoughts of a cold shower, a warm breakfast and then to doze
off on clean sheets and pillow. ''We took the same pathway as
we did going out the previous night and had reached a point
not far from camp; we heard the noises of the camp waking up
to another day," said Silva. ''The next thing I knew was
that I was airborne " _ and life was never going to be
the same for Pte. Silva. His seven companions on the mission
new life began from the dusty patch he fell into after being
blown ''about five feet into the air".
"It a funny thing: you don't feel any pain. The
first reaction is to try and pick yourself up, and that's what
I did, but I stumbled," said Silva. ''I looked down at my
legs, and my left foot wasn't there."
next six months were spent recovering from the amputation,
getting accustomed to walking on crutches and then on an
artificial leg. ''After discharge from the Army hospital (in
Colombo) I was moved to the Rehab centre in Kurunegala where
we were prepared for a new life," said Silva, an old boy
of D S Senanayake Vidyalaya, Mirigama, where he excelled in
athletics and badminton.
the Army wasn't going to put me back in the infantry unit.
There are only so many jobs we can fit into. But if you're
good enough in any sport to represent the Army, then, sport is
all you do," said Pte. Silva, whose village in Mirigama
is as close to a tennis court as Wimbledon is from the SLTA in
Green Path. ''The Army doesn't choose a sport for you - they
encourage you to do all sports. I suppose keeping our minds
and bodies occupied is what rehab is about," says Silva.
''That I didn't know any tennis and had to come to Colombo to
see it for the first time weren't going to be
door to international competitions opened for him and his
Athens teammate, Jayalath Manathunge, when ITF's wheelchair
development officer, Mark Bullock, called on the SLTA in
January 2002. ''From over 100 wheelchair tennis players, Mr
Bullock identified 30 players who could, with training, be
made players worthy of international competition,"
two years later, Silva and Manathunge have reached Olympian
heights, a remarkable advancement by any measurement. From
competing in the D division in 2002, the pair graduated to the
Olympic requirement of A division through a series of
successes in faraway countries. The promotion was clinched
last April in the Dutch Open, where Silva was B division
singles champion and Manathunge, the runner-up. The pair also
won the doubles. The Belgian Open, held days after the Dutch
event, provided the pair with their first A division exposure
- and both were semifinalists in the singles and doubles.
will feature the best from the whole wide world, and a
visiting ITF coach who recently put the finishing touches to
the pair's Olympic preparations cautioned against hopes of
medals. ''It would be great if they win a match or two because
it's going to be hugely competitive out there," said Mr.
Bloc, the Dutch coach to the world champion.
Silva and Manathunge, also a landmine victim in 1998 in the
jungles of Killinochchi, are unfazed. ''We know it is not
going to be easy, but we're quietly confident we can surprise
a few people. You can write this: we're going to fight till
the end," says Silva.
words, but we've heard them before. But coming from two men,
flying sky-high, Friday next, above probably the scenes of
their tragedy, those words ought not to be disregarded as
empty boast. And if they return empty-handed at least they
would've given their best shot - which is more than that can
be said of some who preceded them to Athens.
management, coaching to be blamed
rise through the cricketing ranks is as welcome as it is
belated. Not since Typhoon Tyson was blowing through the
cricket fields of the world in the 1950's, aided and abetted
by a subtler
breeze called Laker, has England been able to claim the top
position in the ladder. Even in the 80's the side flattered to
deceive because the team lacked discipline so that bad habits
took hold in the form of rebel tours and drugs. Thereafter
English cricket languished in the proverbial doldrums so long
that it seemed to become its natural habitat.
Vaughan have not quite risen to the top but are heading in the
right direction. England's new captain and his men are
currently competing for the bronze and silver medals behind
the Australians, a promotion earned through consistent
performances against floundering opponents. Vaughan has
carried on the work of Nasser Hussain, whose task it was to
make his team hard to beat. Under the adopted Yorkshireman,
England has played lively and confident cricket. Now the
Australians are starting to take them seriously and it has
been a long time since that was the case.
from a deteriorating culture that tolerated donkey drop
bowling and arranged declarations in domestic cricket,
England's problem has been an inability to produce
excellence. No major international players had emerged
for many years. Not so long ago it was possible to name
two World X1's without mentioning anyone from the old country.
England lacked the calibre of cricketers needed to compete at
the highest levels. Bad management and coaching were also to
blame, and poor leadership amongst senior players. Part of the
reason for England's rise is that the age of the Stewarts has
top-class players it is possible to achieve competence and not
much more. Vaughan's team
can aim a good deal higher . It is built around four
influential players occupying important positions. Vaughan
himself is a calm captain and a fine batsman . Once he settles
into his work as a leader his batting form will return. About
the first thing a captain realises is the need to think about
other players in the side. Often he does so at his own expense
and takes to the field with much upon his mind and after the
sketchiest of preparations. Vaughan has batted superbly
against the Australians and Indians and will be back.
Thorpe is the other key batsman in the order.
He has the experience and skill needed to shore up the
innings when early wickets have fallen and the range of shots
required to take advantage of a tiring attack. Thorpe had
begun to resemble T.S Eliot's cockneys as they gloomily
crossed London Bridge . Burdened by setbacks in his personal
life he was for a time lost to the game, or anyhow
international cricket, but has returned as a happier man eager
to put his shoulder to the wheel.
Flintoff is the third member of the important quartet. The
Lancastrian is a gentle giant till he gets bat or ball in his
hands whereupon to starts wreaking havoc. He bowls fast and
gives the ball a fearful crack, and does both without the
slightest sign of inhibition. Just the other day he finished
the match against India with a six. Averages do not mean much
to allrounders of his calibre. A man cannot be both a
swashbuckler and an introvert. Flintoff has the power needed
to change the course of any match in an hour.
Harmisson is the other indispensable figure in the England
line-up. Cricket teams need to win the battle of the new
balls. .No time can be wasted on tailenders .
Harmisson tops and tails better than any Englishman has
for decades and he isn't bad in the middle either. He has
given the attack an edge that had been missing.
has produced only a handful of great fast bowlers in its
history and invariably has enjoyed a purple patch in those
may not be a great bowler but he is impressive and has been
taking wickets. As Stephen Fleming pointed out, at his best he
is both accurate and dangerous. Most particularly Harmisson
manages to remain a threat on the docile pitches that are
nowadays prepared for Test matches wherever they are played,
presumably in an attempt to make them last five days.
Otherwise, the television people will not be pleased, and they
pay the bills.
has been able to build a side around these four men. Everyone
understands his role. and the side has depth with bat and ball
and the hunger often found in those who have not tasted
success for a long time. England could win the Champions
Trophy- if any cricket is played between the showers- but
knows that it has not met the stronger teams in the last few
campaigns Australia, India and Sri Lanka await. England must
beat them all to claim a title it has not held for fifty
GSM powers Ladies-Museaus Regatta
sports sponsor Dialog GSM has come forward to sponsor the
inaugural Ladies College - Museaus College Regatta - a
landmark event in the country's sporting calendar as this will
be the first exclusive ladies regatta.
regatta will be held between Ladies College and Museaus
College on September 11 at the Colombo Rowing Club.
oarswomen of Ladies College and Musaeus College have enjoyed a
long history of competition and from this year, the regatta
will be formalised as an annual event between the schools.
principals of Ladies College and Museaus College - Nirmalee
Wickremasinghe and N. Pilapitiya - both paid tribute to the
oarswomen of the two schools for showing great enthusiasm and
proving themselves to be of exceptional standards.
at a press conference announcing the sponsorship, Chirantha De
Zoysa, Dialog GSM's Assistant Manager - Promotions &
Sports Marketing said, "Dialog believes in providing that
foundation as sports not only builds physical talents but also
the character of our youth."
the organizing committee he went on to say, " we are
privileged to be associated with this landmark event, which is
the first of its kind on our country's sporting
Lanka to meet Indonesia
Lanka meets Indonesia in the 2006 FIFA World Cup preliminary
competition Asia Zone -Group match on 9 September at the
Sugathadasa Stadium Colombo. The match is scheduled to kick
off at 6.00 pm. According to Sri Lankan coach Sampath Perera,
even though Sri Lanka is not up to the standard of the
Indonesians in every department they will fight hard to give
their best and a match to enjoy for the Sri Lankan supporters.
is ranked 17th in Asia and 92nd in the world. Lankans only placed 28 and 143 in
the Asia and the world rankings respectively.
Lanka loses the services of four players who played the
previous qualifying games due to an injury and disciplinary
actions. Imtiaz Raheem, Imran Mohamed and Christeen Fernando
will not be playing due to injuries while Kasun Jayasuriya
misses the game since he was served with two yellow cards
during the previous games.
Lanka Team: S D Thilakeratne, M Azwar, D L Steinwall (capt),
Nalin Nandakumara, M A Dilshan, K M Fuard, M Izadeen, Chatura
Maduranga, M Azmeer,E B Channa, Isuru Uditha Perera (v/capt)V.,
Ranjitha Javilal, M Nazar, Samantha Prabath, M Hamsa,
Chrysantha Abeysekera, G P C Karunaratne, J D P Ratnayake,
Sampath Perera (coach)
2004 at Pannala
5 September promises to be a red letter day in Sri Lanka's
motor racing history. With over 100 drivers racing to go,
SPEED 2004 is bound to be a block buster; certainly it's a
record for entries for a Motor Car Meet.
Keeping this large contingent in mind, the organizers
have invited a team of Indian experts to handle the qualifying
as well as race timing. Already,
thousands of tickets have been sold and a massive crowd is
expected at the Pannala track. Several sponsors have also
lined up to support the event and make SPEED 2004, a
spectacular and memorable one.
the officials and competitors briefing professionally
conducted and all details properly in place, there is an
element of precision brought to bear on the conduct of the
race. So much so, that Race Director, the vastly experienced
Bri Ponnambalam has stressed that the events will be run like
clockwork, leaving no room for delay. The on-track team of
officials are all drilled and geared to support Bri, so that a
meticulous race protocol will be realized.