spoils day three
Intermittent rain and bad light proved
to be a spoiler on day three of what was expected to be a good day's
play at the SSC grounds between the visiting West Indians and the
home side, Sri Lanka.
If Chaminda Vaas took the spotlight on
day two with a plucky 49, just missing out on a well deserved half
century it was the rain and the poor light that took centre stage on
this the third day of what is turning out to be an absorbing test
provided the light stays good and the rain keeps away.
Only 14.4 overs were possible on this
day and the West Indies met a tsunami of sorts when they were
confronted once again with the swing of Chaminda Vaas who captured
two wickets on the third afternoon when play only began at 1.10 p.m.
West Indies resuming at 17 for 3(two of those wickets having fallen
to Chaminda Vaas and the other to spinner Muthiah Muralidaran) were
21 when disaster struck. Two quick wickets and the visitors were up
against it with the score reading a dismal 21 for 5. With half the
side gone first innings debutant half centurion wicket-keeper Denesh
Ramdin joined skipper Chanderpaul to bring about a mini revival. A
partnership of 27 between the two meant that the Windies crept along
to 48 when spin wizard Muthiah once again got into the act and
trapped the unfortunate Ramdin leg before for11.
50 of the West Indians innings came up in a laborious 150 mins with
the going being tough, and after the umpires consulted once again,
play was suspended at 3.25 p.m. with the tourists 59 for 6 and play
was finally called off at 4.40 p.m.
West Indies now enjoy a lead of 116
runs with four second innings intact. If the weather keeps good on
Saturday spectators are in for some good value for moment in an
This being the First Test since in Sri
Lanka since the tsunami hit the country last December two minutes
silence was observed before the match began. Then the Interim
Committee and the sponsors had a small opening ceremony to mark the
150th Test by the country. Past Test captains were present at this
On the 1st two days of this 150th Test
match at the SSC ground it was the West Indies who called correctly
and called all the shots. Considered a rubbish team this team
performed out of it skin and posted a good total of 285. At one
stage, at the end of day one to be exact, the Windies looked like
posting a total well in excess of 300 with skipper Chanderpaul at
the wicket. But the Sri Lankan opening bowling pair of Vaas and
Malinga Malinga ended with 4 for 71 while vaas dependable as ever
took 3/35.combined well to make inroads into the batting.
Sri Lanka started disastrously
losing 7 for 113, things looked bleak indeed, but the last
three wickets with a blistering 49 from Chaminda Vaas who still
looks good with the bat, and had received a promotion to number six,
ahead of debutant Gayan Wijekoon, cracked 49 and Muralidaran (36)
and Herath (24) swelled the score. The last three wickets took the
score to 227 with Murali and Vaas involved in a partnership of 66
for the 9th wicket.
The West Indies pacies in particular
troubled the batsmen and got plenty of lift and speed.
the Windies batted a second time they were up against a charged up
Vaas and an equally pumped up Muralitharan who seems to have
recharged his batteries since the first innings. Vaas ended up with
4 for 12 and "Murali" with 2 for 17.
West Indies 1st innings 285, Sri
Lanka 1st innings 227. West
Indies overnight 17/3 contd.
N.Deonarine lbw Vaas 07, S.
Chanderpaul not out 29, D. Smith lbw Vaas 00, D. Ramdin lbw
Muralidaran 00, O. Banks not out 00,
Extras (B-8) -8 Score for 6 wickets
Fall of wickets: 1-3(Marshall),
2-3(Morton), 3-15(Joseph), 4-21(Deonarine), 5-21(Smith), 48(Ramdin).
Bowling Vaas 12-4-12-4, Malinga
6-4-2-0, Muralitharan 11.3-6-17-2, Jayasuriya 06-1-20-0.
tune 'a' cricket to precise national needs
SRI LANKA'S 2/1 triumph over the West
Indies in the just-concluded A series is not likely to get the
credence it deserves - thanks to the winds from an acrimonious
battle between the Caribbean Board and its cricketers blowing across
The protracted turmoil over players'
contracts went some way to influence the outcome of the Colombo
series. The unwelcome winds first blew in soon after the visitors
had performed quite splendidly to win the first 'Test'. In the next
two 'Tests', though, they disintegrated quite dramatically - a
crumbling that is difficult to explain away as another of cricket's
glorious uncertainties. Rather, it had more to do with the unfolding
events back home and its effects on those on duty in Colombo. After
all, to be suddenly told that more than half the A squad would have
to be forfeited to their arriving national team can't do a lot for
morale, approaching the second 'Test'.
Not surprisingly, skipper Darren Ganga
gave public expression to the disappointment caused by the enforced
forfeiture. "We had a situation of where the entire A side was
just split in half because of eight players having to go across to
the senior team . it was very detrimental to the success of the team
because we went on to lose that game (second Test) in exactly three
days." Ganga's reasoning will surely find a lot of sympathy.
But it would be unfair to conclude that his team, sundered and
dispirited though it was, merely went through the motions under the
white flag of surrender.
What the outcome might have been were
the visitors spared of the mid-tour changes is pointless, as any
hypothetical argument is. This much is certain, though: an exciting
series was thrown down the sink.
Sri Lanka, however, would like to think
that they earned the series-win, a thought that's unlikely to find
ready acceptance. On the face of it they did win the second and
third Tests - and the series - by the sort of convincing margins
that suggests a lack of opposition will. But then it has to be
remembered the home team had lost the first. And there's nothing
quite as demoralizing as beginning a series with defeat. Neither
should it be forgotten that the West Indies had all of their
original selections for the second Test, and had to make-do with
replacements for only the final Test. Ironically, the second Test
was won with a day to spare and the third, with just eight balls to
Undeservedly though, the many
distractions will mist over what really was a fine achievement by
Sri Lanka. It spoke a lot for the implacable resolve of Arnold's men
that they battled back from behind to win the series.
The most gladdening aspect of this win
is, it follows two encouraging showings against the A teams of
England and Pakistan this year. In both, Sri Lanka A fought back
admirably to square the series. More so as our 'A' cricket hardly
got the attention it deserves from administrators over quite some
years. The neglect clearly was a product of the frequent change of
administration - eight, including six interim committees, over the
past six years. Either, past regimes didn't give the care
second-string cricket deserves, or, if attention was given, incoming
administrators tended to disregard it, only because it was an
initiative of the previous regime. But that's not a new story.
Anyway, the Mohan de Silva
administration of 2004-05 did wisely to give A series cricket the
deserved priority; promptly five series for the year ahead were
inked in, Michael Tissera was appointed manager and Australian Stan
Nell, coach. The upshot: tied series with England and Pakistan and
this win over the West Indies so far this year - by any measurement
a praiseworthy job. If there's such thing as world rankings for
international second elevens, then, our A team would likely earn a
position higher than our national team's fifth place in the official
But international A cricket has a
different perspective. It is about assisting emerging cricketers to
make the crossing to Test cricket and so serve as an ongoing feeder
to the national level. Given the absence of A series international
cricket over the past few years and the resultant lapsing into
idleness of our fringe players, the re-activating of A cricket, in
theory, was going to be beneficial. And the results show that the
investments in resources and time made in A cricket haven't been a
waste. But whether it has been profitable is arguable.
There's no denying that A series does
keep fringe players meaningfully occupied, as they must while
pursuing bigger aspirations. But is it delivering what is desired,
i.e. feeding the national team?
Given that it became a high-priority initiative only lately,
a judgement on its success or otherwise will have to be reserved for
another day. The signs are hopeful, though, not quite convincing.
It is true batsman Kalavitigoda, for
the New Zealand series, and medium paceman Wijekoon, debuting in the
current Test, graduated from A team. Their inclusions are welcome in
so far as they help establish a corridor between A team and the
national team, which is far more a credible passage than choosing
from the club level, as was the case for long. Test cricket is quite
another thing, as Kalavitigoda found out in Wellington, and was
promptly demoted back to the A squad. Wijekoon, too, would come to
realize there's some way to go before he can secure a place in the
What this means is, the journey from A
team to Test cricket is going to be a long, hard slog. That being
the fact, it makes sense for administrators to tailor A cricket into
serving more precisely the needs of the national team. That the
careers of nearly half the present lot of national cricketers are
nearing end doesn't need reminders. If you're looking for durability
beyond the 2007 World Cup, then your count wouldn't go beyond
Jayewardene, Sangakkara, Samaraweera and probably Dilshan, all in
The thought is a scary: even though the
clock begins to wind down on Jayasuriya and Atapattu (J 'n A), no
potential successors have yet emerged. vanDort looked a worthy
candidate, but he was not persisted with despite reasonable success
in a Test or two. But then, J 'n A is an indispensable pair. That
being so, it's not the easiest of problems to sort out, and best
left alone since J 'n A are doing a good job of it, most times.
But as the careers of J 'n A recede, the problem of questing
their replacement takes on serious proportions - which gives Asantha
de Mel's outburst last year about the stifling of emerging players
by the team management some credence. There was much truth in what
de Mel said, but the way he amplified it in public wasn't at all
decorous. That's an old story.
Of course, a series against the likes
of Australia is no occasion to experiment with
replacement-candidates. But there are other countries suited for
experimentation, the present series against the depleted West
Indies, for instance, or the next, versus Bangladesh. And as said
before, the experimentation ought to directly address future's needs
- beginning with a serious search for future openers.
It is somewhat a travesty of justice
that Russel Arnold, with a 44-Test log, has spent a year in the
wilderness. He earned a recall to the squad for the ongoing Test
series, but was one among the three left out of the eleven. His
problem is breaking into a middle order that looks firmly
established: Sangakkara, Jayewardene, Samaraweera and Dilshan - a
lineup that's going to be around for a long, long time. In that
scenario, there's nothing wrong about looking at Arnold as an opener
for the future. He has the credentials for that role, the best being
his century and half century in England in the final Test of the
2002 series. He came in as protection to the failing Jayasuriya.
Given that the SSC Test didn't quite
run the way it was expected to, at least at the time of this
writing, Arnold's inclusion for the Kandy Test isn't a guarantee.
Sangakkara and Dilshan, relatively speaking, were the only
specialists to acquit themselves on that dismal Thursday; Atapattu,
Jayasuriya and Jayewardene were disappointing and Samaraweera
self-destructed. All in all, the batting was thoroughly unconvincing
- a consequence of the three-month holiday. That being the official
explanation to the first innings failure, one can only assume the
batting will remain intact for the second Test. Which begs the
question: what purpose the A squad?
Selectors ought to insist on bold
changes, in the batting particularly. If not the A and national
teams will reside in two different, unrelated worlds - and that
would be a prescription for disaster.
Lanka nears davis cup promotion
SRI LANKA kicked-off their Group Three
Davis Cup campaign in great style by notching convincing victories,
without conceding a set, in their two opening encounters at Hong
Kong's Victoria Park Tennis Complex in Causeway Bay.
On the first night, Wednesday, the Sri
Lankans brushed aside bottom seed Qatar, 3 matches to nil, and
duplicated the score line against Bahrain on the next day.
These wins mean that Sri Lanka retains
its status as a Group Three Davis Cup nation for another year. As
well, the country's promotion to Group Two is a realistic
proposition. "We have three more matches to play - against
Vietnam and the two top teams of the other group, which most likely
will be Hong Kong and Malaysia. If we win two of those three
matches, then, we would have won promotion to Group Two," said
SLTA president Suresh Subramaniam, whose declared ambition was to
achieve promotion to Group Two, from the Group Four it resided when
he assumed SLTA presidency four years ago.
The four-member Sri Lankan team's
dominance so far is illustrated by the fact that they have yet to
drop a set, winning all their six matches in straight sets.
In their 3/0 rout of the Qatari
challenge, 19-year-old Harshana Godamanne produced the most
impressive performance. He disposed of Sultan Khalfan, 6/2,6/1 in
about 35 minutes and then, in partnership with fellow teenager
Oshada Wijemanne, 17, whipped Abdulla and Haijji, 6/1,6/1. Sri
Lanka's no. 1 singles player, Renouk Wijemanne, had to beat off some
stiff resistance from Mohammed Abdulla in the first set before
winning 6/4. In the next set, however, Wijemanne, ran ragged his
opponent to romp home, 6/0.
On Thursday night, Sri Lanka maintained
their cracking form to bundle out Bahrainis, 3/0. Godamanne again
played impressively to dispose of Abdul Rahman Shehab, 6/1, 6/4;
Wijemanne won just as comfortably over Khaled Al-Thawadi, 6/2,6/4.
The doubles victory was, however,
achieved the hard way, albeit in straight sets. Godmanne was rested
and veteran Rajiv Rajapakse, playing in his first competition match,
partnered Oshada Wijmanne. The pair had experienced some
difficulties in combining in the first set, but still won 7/5. But
in the next set their blending was more harmonious and won, 6/4.
Sri Lanka encounters their toughest
opposition yet when they take on Vietnam late Friday night. "If
you remember we lost to Vietnam in 2003 in Colombo. But our present
team is a different lot, and if they can maintain the momentum of
the past two days then I am confident that we can overcome the
Vietnamese," said SLTA President Subramaniam, who saw his
team's successes in Hong Kong.
Sri Lanka beat bottom seeds Qatar 3
Singles: Hashanah Godamanne beat Sultan-Khalfan 6/2, 6/1; Renouk
Wijemanne beat Mohammed Abdulla 6/4, 6/0.
Doubles: Harshana Godamanne/Oshada Wijemanne beat
Haijji, 6/1, 6/1
Sri Lanka beat Bahrain, 3/0.
Singles: Harshana Godamanne beat Abdul Rahman Shehab
6/1, 6/4; Renouk Wijemanne beat Khaled Al - Thawadi, 6/2,
Rajapakse/Oshada Wijemanne beat
Abdul Latif Mohamed / Abdul Rahman Shehab, 7/5, 6/4.
By Pelham Juriansz
Dejan de Zoysa has become the first Sri
Lankan to compete in a world motor sport final. A young man who has
just turned 20, having left his alma mater, S.Thomas College, Mount
Lavinia recently, Dejan has shown the traditional Thomian grit by
performing at absolute peak and grave danger.
He has the distinction of being the
youngest double international at 19 and thrives on balancing on that
thin line between absolute peak and grave danger.
Sojourning back in time, to his debut
race he recalls that he was plagued with adversaries where he was on
his back brakes while throttling and this was corrected only in his
third round of the Championship. He then had to face engine failure
in Malaysia at the Sepang F1 circuit where he was running fifth in
lap 2. Then in Thailand he was running fourth when a competitor who
went off the track rejoined crashing in to Dejan's Formula wrecking
his suspension. But when the going gets tough the tough get going.
So, despite this turn of events he has
brought honour to Sri Lanka by qualifying for this spectacular world
final in Bahrain to be held in December 2005.
But sad to say he lacked support from
the corporate sector in terms of sponsorship, even though personal
appeals have been made by the President, the Prime Minister and the
Minister of Sports to support this talented young sportsman.
Dejan who has a realistic chance of
breaking into the Formula 1 circuit needs national support to get
reach this pinnacle.
Dejan is also an oarsman of repute
having won SAF games for Sri Lanka and is a recipient of the Thomian
"Blue", which is the highest award for a Thomian
sportsman. This award, which was awarded recently, was first given
to cricketer Jeevan Mendis.
A young man of multiple talents, he is
also a cricketer of repute, who has been coached by former England
skipper Keith Fletcher.
to remain forever young
Cricketer Shane Warne with his wife Simone in 1995.
Warne's marriage is on the rocks
Greatness requires a willingness to
grapple with reality, and to accept responsibility for mistakes.
Genius allows a man to inhabit a fanciful world of permanent
adolescence. On the field the genius can write his own script. Off
it, the magic is lost.
Shane Warne has been a cricketing
genius, a player of outstanding commitment, a performer of the
utmost brilliance who has had the courage to express his entire
talent. He has failed, though, to distinguish between the artifice
of the arena, where his legend has been built, and lift itself with
its emotions and relationships and dependencies. Dietrich Bonhoffer
argued that the mark of adulthood was the ability to control one's
passion. Warne has failed that test.
Now his life has taken a turn that will
provoke little surprise but universal regret. Warne is far more
vulnerable than he appears. During a recent Test match he rang a
friend to ask how his bowling was looking and, before any response
could be made, provided the answer, which was, as usual, that he was
bowling superbly and just could not get a beak. Bluff counts among
But some things cannot be bluffed away.
Throughout his career Warne has tried
to balance the camaraderie of the rooms with the solidity of
domestic life. Great sportsmen, often marry young. Sensing the
colossal gamble they are taking, feeling an insecurity they dare not
reveal, they build a home and a family and return to it as needs
Warne wanted the best of both worlds
and for time managed to get his way. Ultimately, though, cricket has
exerted the stronger pull. For better or worse, it has allowed him
to explore every aspect of his character, every inch of his
exceptional talent. Sport has been his blanket, cricket as been his
home. He belongs in a team. It is his natural habitat. He relishes
the camaraderie of the field, the isolation of the competition, the
shine of the spotlight.
Most particularly he yearns for the
eternal boyhood of sport. His smoking, drinking, eating, golden
locks, stubbed face, blue eyes, roguish charm, tempting of the fates
and extraordinary skill, all of them are better suited to the gamble
of the field than the routine of the kitchen sink. He is not alone
in his desire to remain forever young. Sportsmen, musicians and
their performers plucked from ordinariness before time has worked
its wonders upon their minds and tend to lock themselves into the
happiest period of their lives as a way of keeping the world at bay.
Loneliness stalks them. Obscurity whispers its terrible tidings. Of
course they are scared of growing up for that is to enter an unknown
and painful world. Michael Jackson is forever 13. Sharne Warne is
18. It is not an insult, merely an inevitability.
Warne's entire life has been a risk. He
is a leg-spinner, and might not have made it. Throughout he has
danced with danger. He has the nerve of a bullfighter and the hide
of an ox. Judgement and restraint have not entered his soul. Of
course it has put him in peril. Unfortunately, his friends have not
been of much help. Harsh truths told by someone close at hand have a
stronger impact than a thousand lectures. Perhaps they have merely
encouraged his follies. Or maybe his ears have not been working
properly. Some men need the danger.
Warne has also been a fool. He has
saved his worst for England of all places, a land burdened with
puritanical and prurient newspapers. He might as well have cut
himself and gone to swim amongst sharks. Now he faces the
disintegration of his adult life. Not that he is alone in that
either. Most marriages end badly.
It is a rotten business. No one
preparing adulthood is interested in anyone else's private affairs.
Few things are more contemptible than the sight of the wild dogs of
the press as they feed upon the carcasses of the exposed. Newspapers
chastise a man for some misbegotten indulgence whilst themselves
behaving like schoolboys peeping through a hole in the girl's
showers. The high horse of sanctimony is better mounted by those
whose own consciences are clear, if such can be found.
Still. Warne's marriage is on the rocks
and now he must depend on his other home, in the dressing -room.
Over the years he has survived numerous setbacks and can be counted
amongst the most resilient of sportsmen. Beyond doubt he will rally.
It is not the ashes series that will concern him, but its aftermath.