31st October, 2004  Volume 11, Issue  16

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


What price De Mel's remarks?

Samath on Sunday

SURELY, the Chairman of Cricket Selectors' joy will be tempered with a tinge of regret. No one could've been anything less than thrilled at the way Marvan Atapattu's brave men, Saturday last, turned the tables on Pakistan. And as the man, who helped choose the victorious men, the joy of Asantha de Mel, the CCS, ought to have had a special quality - except that he shot his big mouth a little too soon.

On the eve of the Saturday final, de Mel had derided the team management over its unwillingness to include the younger squad members into the playing-eleven. He called it a ''selfish'' attitude, a pretty strong statement that. Though de Mel's broadside is on the team management, it doesn't require exceptional intelligence to identify the person who his barb is specifically directed at. It's common knowledge that the skipper has the final say on the chosen eleven, from a tour squad of 15. But when the CCS, arguing for blooding younger talent, reminds the present skipper of his past - the infamous sequence of ducks at the start of his career - well, he makes no bones on who he thinks is the culprit responsible for keeping the door closed on fresh talent. And then when he goes on to recall the infamous team revolt of a few years ago over the selectors' decision to bench Atapattu so that a youngster could be experimented with in a Test against Zimbabwe, well, that was crossing the line - being almost personal.

With such unkind remarks about the skipper, de Mel surely must've messed up his happiness: all he said has, after all, been rendered disagreeable after the final triumph. This is not to infer he might've hoped the fate of Atapattu's men in the final were no different to what it had been in the previous two meetings, so that his criticism would be on firmer ground. But to even hint that de Mel is unpatriotic is to be ignorant of man's character. He is the sort who can't help but be outspoken, even if he gives the impression of being rude and crude. He is not the one to suffer in silence. Rather, he'll spit out his feelings, and not exactly in the language of a diplomat. And if he's cautioned that he will be taken for a character difficult to work with, a retort on the lines: "to hell with it, I am not in the job to win popularity'' wouldn't be unusual of the man.

A hothead he might be, but his remarks are not without reasons. The senior players have been around for a long time, and since they are of the same age group, it is a reasonable assumption that suitable replacements would be a serious problem once the elders retire, all not many months of each other. de Mel, not inappropriately, cites what befell the once powerful West Indies for their neglect of fresh blood infusion and reliance for too long on their stars.  It's also true that, with long time spent together, the seniors tend to be cliquey and get to become an influential inner group. The instigator of the team's revolt over Atapattu's omission two years ago, for a fresher, was that invisible power centre. The then selectors relented to demands for the opener's re-inclusion, an act that acknowledged player power - not quite the best thing for meaningful administration. So, de Mel's concerns were legitimate.

If I might digress and continue with the history of that episode: the Guy de Alwis-led selectors that succeeded the ones that bowed to player power were intent on showing that they, and not the senior players, called the shots. The relationship between chairman of selectors and the skipper, so, turned out to be anything but cordial. And it's no secret that Jayasuriya's resignation from captaincy had a lot to do with his unhappy relationship with the then CCS.

It has to be remembered, though, that the path to the Sport Minister's door was a convenient one to take when senior players' interest was threatened. de Mel no doubt is unwilling to have the minister tell him what he should or shouldn't do - and wants to deal directly with the captain, as it should be. While that approach is to be applauded, the brusque manner of his handling of matters is regrettable.

Clearly, his decision to go public with his views on Atapattu's selection policy is a flagrant violation of protocol and has triggered a controversy that could well snowball to a serious crisis. It wasn't going to go unanswered by the skipper - and when the final was won Saturday, not surprisingly Atapattu spoke back. ''It (de Mel's criticism) was a big motivation factor to show everyone what we are capable of,'' he said, adding that he would dwell more on de Mel's criticism ''at a later time''; a High Noon's a-looming.

de Mel's view won't be without backers, especially those impatient for blooding the youngsters, which admittedly hasn't got the priority it deserves. That lapse, however, is not a creation of the present skipper, but one he inherited from past's neglect. So, to publicly point the finger of blame at Atapattu is grossly unfair. de Mel, in his impetuosity, has forgotten the positive side of Atapattu's leadership qualities, mirrored in the many successes. Of the last 21 ODIs under his captaincy, Sri Lanka has won all, including the Asia Cup, bar three matches, as well as both of the Test series, over Zimbabwe and South Africa - achievements that merit respect than ridicule. To jump on the skipper because of the loss to Pakistan in the first game is inviting accusations of behind-the-scenes differences of a personal kind. As well, the public airing of de Mel's criticism could not have been at a more inappropriate time - a day before the final.

Though all this might stimulate suspicions of a deliberate attempt to undermine Atapattu's leadership, nothing can be further from the truth. de Mel, as said before, is a diplomat's opposite. It is more likely his ill-timed outburst was an expression of his impatience to usher new blood into the team, which really is a matter of policy. And policy is something that calls for a combined effort by both captain and chairman selectors - a matter to be talked about in the privacy of a board room over a cup of tea. This might have happened between the two, but if implementation hasn't yet been effected, then there are more cups of tea to drink and more to talk before either party goes public on the issue. After all, the skipper's concern is about choosing his men for that day, to win. You can't expect him to do things designed to win matches in 2006/7. The chief of selectors' horizon is wider. Any effort by one party to thrust his views on the other is a recipe for disaster.

It is sad that the player who paid most dearly for this apparent lack of understanding between CCS and skipper is poor Dilshan Tillekeratne. Though of late he hasn't delivered on his immense promise, it is injustice that his centuries against England and Australia this season weren't enough reasons for his retention in the squad for the two-Test series in Pakistan. His performances in the concluded one-day triangular can hardly be described as disappointing. de Mel, in fact, admits that Dilshan's exclusion is not so much due to any loss of faith in his ability as for creating an opening for the either Ian Daniel or Jehan Mubarak.

Dilshan has endured the frustration of expulsion before, and came back so much a better cricketer. This time he will want to show he's been a victim of injustice and would resolve to return as a player of indispensable quality. Should Daniel and Mubarak get their breaks and hopefully, contribute enough to keep their names on the selectors' list for the next series. With greater numbers to choose from, the competition obviously would get sharper, and that in turn would put selectors in the envious situation of working on the theory that players are good as only their last innings. Then, de Mel's might not have shot his mouth too soon.

Meanwhile, though, the CCS might have to ride out the skipper's rejoinders, hurting though some may be. The price of indiscretion is heavy.

Murali and Lanka IOC - the winning combination

Lanka IOC Ltd, (LIOC) a subsidiary of the giant IndianOil, a Fortune 500 company, has continuously contributed to the upliftment of the sports industry. From today, Lanka IOC is signing up with Muttiah Muralidaran to be their brand ambassador in Sri Lanka.

The entry of Lanka IOC in the petroleum sector of Sri Lanka was a landmark for the petroleum sector of Sri Lanka. LIOC's entry changed the face of petroleum retailing and the people of Sri Lanka are now having a different fuelling experience. LIOC is making phased investments to the tune of US$ 100 million to provide world-class quality petroleum products and services at the most competitive prices to Sri Lankan consumers. Lanka IOC has brought to Sri Lanka, IndianOil's over four decades of expertise and experience that it has gained in the competitive petroleum sector in India.

Muttiah Muralidarn, one of Sri Lanka's greatest cricketers, and the second highest wicket taker in world, is no stranger to anyone. Having taken more than 500 test wickets in his career he is in the elite 500 club, and could be looked upon as one of Sri Lanka's best known and loved personalities. Not only is he loved and admired in his country of origin, but is also a much-respected figure the world over. Having faced and successfully overcome many obstacles in his rise to the top position in the cricketing world, Muttiah Muralidaran is an example of how strength and determination can conquer any obstacles placed in its way.

Similarly, ensuring international standards of service and meeting stringent quality and eco-friendly standards, Lanka IOC's operations in Sri Lanka will also uphold those virtues of strength and determination. LIOC aims to become a good strategic partner for Sri Lanka, taking a long-term investment view, while being sensitive to the socio economic needs of Sri Lanka and its citizens.

This tie-up between Lanka IOC Ltd. And Muttiah Muralidaran, effectively brings together two major players in their respective fields, with the hope of working together as a team, to further promote and develop not only the petroleum industry in the country, but also Sri Lanka as a whole.

Ninth SriLankan Golf Classic at Victoria

Sri Lankan Airlines presents the SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic for the 9th consecutive year amid the breathtaking surrounds of the Victoria Golf & Country Resort in Kandy, Sri Lanka, rated among the 100 most beautiful golf courses in the world by Golf Digest the event got underway on October 27.

This prestigious tournament, new well-known among the international golfing community, is expected to draw some 300 participants this year, about 200 of them from overseas. Last year's tournament drew 235 golfers from 14 nations - 135 from the United Kingdom, France Switzerland, Australia Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and 100 from Sri Lanka.

Such is the enthusiasm for the event that golfers from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Canada and USA confirmed their participation two months in advance.

The Sri Lankan Airlines Golf Classic is one of the major sporting events organized by Sri Lankan Airlines convincing travellers of the endless possibilities for sports and adventure tourism on this enchanting Indian Ocean Island. SriLankan Airlines promotes international surfing, horseracing, and rugby in Sri Lanka, and has its own adventure tourism arm "SriLankan Adventures."

The Victoria Golf & Country Resort is located at Digane near Kandy, amid the forests and mountains of central Sri Lanka. The area is an environmentalist's dream, and participants can check out the many nature trails and bird watching locations around nearby Lake Victoria, to see the more than 70 species of birds and the many types of deer, as well as the fishing cat, the mongoose and other small mammals.

The SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic offers winners more than 20 air tickets, many holiday packages. and glittering trophies. The airline is also offering all international. golfers attractive packages, which include hotel accommodation at the official hotels with bed and breakfast, airport and Golf Club transfers, tournament green fees, cocktails, dinner and entertainment.

The principal sponsor of the tournament will be Chivas Regal. Co-sponsors include Carlsberg, Premadasa Gems & Jewellery. And Lufthansa Technik.

Doctorate conferred

Dr.P. Kalaignanasundaram has been awarded a doctorate from the International University for Martial Arts (J.S.K. & U.T.K.F) of Japan with effect from 27.09.2004. The doctorate was awarded for his meritorious service, excellence and contributions to peace, universal goodwill and in appreciation of the integrity and leadership, cooperation and solidarity to benefit all humanity.

Dr. Kalaignanasundaram hails from Jaffna district and is presently engaged as a Human Resource consultant to the Middle East and other European countries.

He is the Managing Director of Trust Recruitment Services (Pvt) Ltd, a leading manpower recruiting agency and Trust Shipping Service (Pvt) Ltd, situated at 581 3/1, Galle Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 06.

Karate Championship and demonstration

All Japan Shito - Ryu international karate - do Seiko Kai Sri Lanka branch will hold for the 2nd successive year the annual karate championship and demonstration organized try the president and the executive committee on 31st October 2004 at 4.15 pay at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, Colombo 14. the Chief guest will be Mrs Kumari Hapugalle Perera LEO Managing Director Alethea International School. 

Sri Lanka, China in Bowl showdown

By T.M.K. Samat in Hong Kong 

SRI Lanka, as expected, handed debutantes Pakistan a hiding, by 75 points to 3, as did China to India, 50 points to 15, Wednesday, on the opening night of the 19th Asian Rugby Championship in Hong Kong.

The two countries now meet in the final of the Bowl, scheduled for late Saturday night. A final between Sri Lanka and China always looked inevitable, as the pair clearly were the strongest in the group of Asia's weakest countries, including newcomers Pakistan and Macao.

The continent's top four ranked countries, defending champions Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Chinese-Taipei, figure in the premier event for the Cup while second-tier nations - Thailand, Arabian Gulf, Kazakhstan and Singapore - play for the Plate.

That Sri Lanka returned a massive haul of 11 tries against the debutantes, three more than what China managed against India, doesn't necessarily mean the islanders' performance was superior to the Chinese. The quality of the opposition each encountered had a lot to do with each team's tally.

India, playing in their third Asiad, had included seven players from England and Ireland, all with Indian parentage or born in India. These overseas players, with club experience, had a telling influence on their play, restricting the Chinese to 19/15 lead in the first half. But China clearly looked the better-prepared outfit, and India's game defence eventually came apart in the face of China's relentless attack.

Sri Lanka looked rusty, the effects of a lack of competitive rugby. In the opening thirty minutes they could manage only two tries against an opposition that made up for their lack of technical sophistication with tremendous enthusiasm. But as the Sri Lankans found their feet and grew accustomed to the chill winds that swept through this hill-top grounds in Kowloon, they spun out moves of exciting patterns, with centre Pradeep Liyanage running in three impressive tries. But fullback T A Silva's 16 points, from five conversions and two penalties, was the highest contribution.

Stiff competition at Victoria's monthly medal

Priath Fernando, the son of Sri Lanka's King and Queen of golf, Pin and Pam Fernando, playing with a handicap of 8 registered a gross score of 86 to win the mens gross division at the Lectra October monthly medal sponsored by Tea Tang and conducted by the picturesque Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Rajawella. Though Sam Gunaratne and Rohan de Silva equalled Priath's score, the golf rules saw Priath emerging the winner on a count back and Rohan de Silva the runner-up in the nett division, Roshan Dias (68 nett) was the winner

The ladies divisions saw Indira Tibblings (70 nett) pushing Nilloo Jayatillaka (71 nett) to the runner-up position. The Hemachandra twins Sidath and Sampath dominated the junior competition by emerging the winner and runner-up respectively.

The Mini Junior 9 hole contest saw Akhil Rao clinching first place with Kelly Rao, the runner-up  

The results:

Gentleman's Gross Division: Winner: Priath Fernando 86 gross. Runner-up: Rohan de Silva 86 gross (on a count back).

Gentleman's Nett Division: Winner: Roshan Dias 68 nett. Runner-up: Sidath Hemachandra 70 nett.

Ladies Division: Winner: Indira Tibblings 70 nett. Runner-up: Niloo Jayatillake 71 nett.

Junior Division: Winner: Sidath Hemachandra 70 nett. Runner-up: Sampath Hemachandra 75 nett.

Mini Junior - 9 hole contest: Winner: Akhil Rao. Runner-up Kelly Rao.

Ladies Division:

Suwen Selvaratnam 84 gross and 76 nett, Usha de Silva 90 and 80, Derna de Silva 126 and 90, Sue Rao 126 and 90, Anusha Senadeera 98 and 79, Niloo Jayatillake 82 and 71, Yvonne Abhayaratne 87 and 76, Dhanushi Senadeera 98 and 74, Manouri Jayakoddy 109 and 87, Chathuri Engman 113 and 80, Chris North 118 and 92, Indira Tibblins 94 and 70, Paddy Arnolda 118 and 92.

Mini Junior Group:

Kyle de Silva 132 nett, Akhil Rao 100 nett, Sachin de Silva 120 nett, Kelly Rao 117 nett.

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