4th September,  2005  Volume 12, Issue  8

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                                    


Another whitewash!

By Pelham Juriansz 

Sri Lanka, who were successful in the first ODI at the SSC grounds on Wednesday and having won the second one as well will be looking to clinch the series with a knockout blow in the third and final one-dayer as well.

The third m,atch will be played today September 4.

Clearly this is a miss-match as the two teams are so absolutely unbalanced that a result in favour of Bangladesh at this point of time seems completely out of sight.

Though rugby will take centre stage today with Kandy SC meeting the CH in the Clifford Cup knockout match it is difficult to picture an interesting result at the Premadasa Stadium today.

Coach Dave Whatmore will have a one- man revolution to fashion out when he leads his charges and points them in the correct direction.

 Climbing great heights however is not uncommon to this coach who could be rated as the beat of all time having raised lowly Sri Lanka way back in 1996 to reach the Everest of one -day cricket.

Rowing the boat for Sri Lanka is Tom Moody the tall yet lithe individual who has set his sights on the World Cup to be played in the West Indies in 2007.

Two years down the road it would seem that Sri Lanka could send out signals to the rest of the cricketing world that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Analysing the match at the SSC, which was the curtain raiser and the second match at the Premadasa Stadium Bangladesh won the toss on both occasions and put the home side in.

In the First ODI the captain thought that he could exploit the conditions in the morning., but it was not to be. Upul Tharanga, the makeshift opener has taken over from the regular opener skipper Marvan Atapattu The selectors have broken the established opening combination of the right-hand-left hand alliance between two senior players.

Today's game could turn out to be a hotly contested match, as the two teams would not like to lose a game. No team likes to lose but then with a two nil lead staring them in the face Sri Lanka could rest on their laurels and be complacent.

Keeping true to his word Tom Moody is delivering the goods and it is refreshing to see Mahela Jayawardana coming good at the correct time. He is peaking at the right time and certainly will be an asset to the team.

He is fast filling the void that the batsman Aravinda de Silva left when he left the scene after the previous world Cup.

Hailed as an up and coming player three years ago Jayawardena has come of age and could now be reckoned amongst the best in the world even to be compared with Rahul Dravid of India who is one of the most classical batsman of all time. Even the present Indian coach the legendary Gregory Stephen Chappell, can be compared in that lot but the late Len Hutton of England could be termed the best though he was before my era and it is those who have seen him who wax eloquent about his strokeplay both off the back as well the front foot.

Wally Hammond was another who had a beuatiful cover drive but these are just vivid pictures in my imagination gleaned from books that I have been fortunate to have bought and be presented with,

Sri Lanka should not assess their standings in the one -day rankings as anything to go by. Tom Moody's aim is to win the next World Cup and with that in mind he is striving towards the goal.

The wins against sub-standard teams like Bangladeshis and the West Indians could not be considered a blessing as it will only go to boost the image of Sri Lanka against the minnows of cricket and the Carribbeans who have descended to the depths of their game after the rebels like Lara and Co: did not tour Sri Lanka.

It would seem that money was the cause but there seem to be more sinister reasons behind that move.

Anyway it only meant that Sri Lanka have had an easier time with the West Indians and also the Bangladeshis.

It was but poor consolation that Bangladesh could not pull something out of the hat and they succumbed like rabbits and crept back in to a hole.

The first ODI showed the poor catching of the team. Coach Whatmore has not learnt the lesson of placing the correct fielders in the right places.

An even contest was predicted before the start of the First ODI where the coach was optimistic but it was not to be.

Maybe the final countdown would prove to be decisive and incisive but the dice is loaded heavily in favour of the home side. Playing at the R. Premadasa International Stadium theSri Lankans have whipped the best opposition in the world.

For a ground that was just a dirt track the late President transformed and transfigured the stadium to what it is today.

So if one is not interested in rugby and is not doing anything on Sunday, to put it simply in the words of Tony Orlando and Dawn the group that gave us songs like "Knock three times", "Candida" etc, maybe you could ask yourselves the question, "What you doing Sunday, baby" and come to the match because there is no better place to be than at the Premadasa watching the "King of Sport" cricket. Let rugby take a back seat for once.

Rugby finding its old magic

ALL that remains to be done is to conclude today's Knockout Final, and the 2005 domestic rugby season would be ready for the historians to write on. The CH & FC, meanwhile Wednesday, ensured drama would be written into the last chapter by as good as gate-crashing into a final that was widely expected to be between Kandy SC and CR & FC, league's nos. 1 and 2.

A face-off different to that which was predicted somehow appears like that justice has not been done. After all, the long 2005 season had, effectively, been two different races: Kandy SC and CR ran for the plum and the rest of the pack. well, for the leftovers. CR's elimination in the semifinal might be cruelly undeserving, but it won't harm the game.

The turning of the formbook has been a rarity in recent seasons, unlike in the past when no team was quite safe from defeat. There was a marvellous sense of excitement in the air in seasons of old, and just about any A division game packed all four sides of playing fields. The stunning upset Wednesday might have come too late to be of any good to this season. Had it come, say, in the first round, there would've been a third serious contender for the league title - and the tournament would've been that much better for it. No matter. At least now there's hope that one-sided seasons might be nearing an end.

It is nice to think that a Kandy SC v. CH showdown will be a hell raiser on the hill today. Truthfully, though, it is not quite the High Noon that a Kandy SC - CR meeting evokes. But that is crying over spilt milk. The wish now is that the CH might reveal a strength that they haven't yet, and, for the good of the game, make mortals of the perennial champions. CR did that in the first league encounter, but any hopes of tearing off the cloak of invincibility from the champion's back were thwarted in the return. Not that Kandy SC handed CR a revengeful thrashing; as much as the Longden Place club lost they might so easily have run off with the league title. And had the two met for a third time today, Kandy SC's long invincibility would've been under serious threat.

It is now up to the CH to strip Kandy SC of its aura of dominance and so create a more level playing field, psychologically, for the next season. But hopes of a realization of that feat, however, linger on the fringe of fantasy. Not only did the CH lose to Kandy SC in both league encounters, but there's a certain magical bonding between the Nittawela turf and its custodians that visitors can't quite break: Kandy SC has not been defeated on home turf in more seasons than one can remember. 

Another certainty is that the Nittawela stands will again heave and throb, and the roars from thousands of throats will likely startle the quiet folks in far-off villages. All this sound and fury is a sign of rugby's return to good health after being afflicted by public indifference for long years.

It's not as if the public suddenly, years ago, found the ways of rugby abhorring; that the collision of flesh on flesh, the sheer bloody-mindedness had become distasteful. Really, crowds will come a long way to be treated to just that sort of entertainment. But there is a difference between the rugby's attractive fury and one-sided competition. And the game sadly fell to the latter, as for decade-plus seasons Kandy SC predictably, nay robotically, scooped all that was there on the prize table.

Not many moons ago, it was jokingly argued, why go through six months of sweat when all and sundry were certain that all the silverware would anyway end up in Kandy SC's cupboard, apparently, so creaky and shaky under the weight of its burgeoning contents that Hemaka Amarasuriya, Chairman of Singer, the club's sponsors, donated a bigger and sturdier cupboard two seasons ago - rather than the club having to answer charges of damage to Union property.

It is no fault of Kandy SC that they reigned in isolated splendour. The side effect, however, to their long dominance was the lowering of the domestic season, as a competition, to pretty much a race between the able and the disabled. This season, though, saw a welcome departure; CR entered Kandy SC's lonely planet in the opening weeks of the league and brought an air of expectation to the tournament. For once, in three seasons, the word defeat and Kandy SC were spoken in the same breath.

And so, the fans appetite was whetted again. CR loyalists returned in their numbers to follow the improving fortunes of their club. And the numbers among the Kandy fans who kept away, bored by the monotony of their club's successes, returned to cheer on the club and will it to resist the CR's threats on its long supremacy. So, a turnout reminiscent of the halcyon days of local rugby was seen at both league encounters. 

Any conclusion, though, that club rugby has now regained its lost legion of supporters would be unwisely premature. The truth is that the popularity is nowhere nearly widespread as it was 60s through to the mid-90s. Let's look at the issue dispassionately. Kandy SC, of course, has the large following that champion teams inevitably attract, and their matches consequently pull spectators by the thousands. But it's not the sort of genuine thousands who throng in the belief of experiencing an entertaining evening. The CR-Kandy SC games of this season, however, were a return to those old times. The rest, though, were not. The Havelocks, one-time rugby's most popular club, quarterfinal meeting with Army last week, by a generous estimate, pulled around a thousand - skeletal, in comparison to the 10 -12, 000 the meeting attracted in the 60s to 80s.

The decline by the thousands of pure entertainment seekers gradually dropped off, bored by the unfailing spectacle of Kandy SC knocking the stuffing out of Colombo clubs, year in, year out. Kandy SC yet continues to do that, but CR showed the champion's infallibility is a myth. And the Army, too, Tuesday, subjected Kandy SC to quite some trauma before conceding defeat in the semifinal. The soldiers themselves endured long harrowing moments against Havelocks before snatching the quarterfinal in extra time. The knockout had its moments.

But the game is all about more teams populating Kandy SC's lonely planet. CR did that and CH, in the last game of the season, has a chance of doing that today. The heart says CH and the head, Kandy SC.

Gateway cricketers shine

The under 19 inter schools Cricket Champions, Gateway College were sent on a tour to Bangalore from the 23 August to 30 August. The 14 cricketers were accompanied by the Master-in-charge Sunil Koralagama and the coaches Ramesh Weerakoon and J. W. K. Boteju.

The Gatteway cricketers won all three matches played.

In their first encounter played on the 25 august two players Milhan Hassin and derrick Ruston scored centuries aginst Imtiaz Ahamed Cricket Academy at St. John's Grounds.

Shifan samsudeen took 6 wickets for 14 runs and Nadeesh Wickramage 3 wickets for 31 runs.

In their second encounter against Delhi Public school in Bangalaore they defeated Delhi Public school by 57 runs ina high scoring game.

In this match Malith Silva scored 56, Shazaad 44, and Adnan Cassim 38 runs.

Photo - Standing left to right:- Aadhil Niyas, Malith silva, Nadeesh Wickramage, Shaham Yusoof, Damien Fleming, Namiq Ismath, Romesh Ramachandran, Shifan samsudeen, Eshan Tilakesena, Siraaj jayah, Derrick Ruston, Shahzaad Zahirsha and adnan Cassim.

Seated from left to right-Ramesh Weerakoon (Coach), Sunil Koralagama(master-in-charge), Sunil Jayaweera (Head of Sports) , Somabandhu Kodikara (Headmaster), R. I. T. Alles (Director), Harsha Alles (Director), Milhan Hasin (Captain), Shanthi Podimahatmaya (Deputy Head of Sports), and J.W.K. Boteju(Coach).

Carey in Astra Cup Division II final

The Carey College under 17 cricket team won the Astra Cup Division II semi finals match played against Prince of Wales on August 29 and 30 at Kadirana Grounds in Negombo.

Carey batted first and scored 195 and Prince of Wales replied with 171. Batting for the second time Carey scored 167, taking 6.

Photo - Front row - left to right: Adhil Hafiz (Captain), C. Fernando (Coach), S. Ranasinghe (Master in Charge), M. Kuwaju (Vice Principal), E.W. Wijesinghe (Principal), M.L.C. Peiris (Prefect of Games), Andrew Jansen (Vice Captain)

Second row left to right: K.A. Ellesinghe, M.S.E. Kitchilan, A. Nazeer, A. Harsha, K. Urapola, N.D. Dissanayake, S.S. Gunadasa, A.N. Sawal, C.K.C. Perera, T. Peiris, C. Perera and M. Preena.

Godamanna joins history makers

A WINDFALL of Rs 40, 000 in the hands of a 19-year-old can send his mind a-racing: should it be spent on a motorcycle, a computer, an overseas holiday. the choices cascade.

Prize monies adding up to Rs. 42, 500 came the way of Harshana Godamanna last Sunday, and since the Royalist is nuts about tennis you'd expect him to rush-off to the closest sport shop and splash it all on the best set of racquets on the shelf. Right? Wrong ?.

"I haven't even thought about how I am going to spend it. I think I'll let the money sit in the bank for awhile," says Godamanna, the new national tennis champion. "Meanwhile I'll let the fact that now I am the National Singles champion sink into me - it's a dream I've nursed since I began playing under 10 competitions."

As if a dream come true wasn't enough to absorb, Godamanna was told that he is only the fifth to win a Triple Crown in the 90-year history of the event, taking the Men's Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. "Being men's singles champion of the country is delightful enough, but then to know you've also got into history is . well, that's mind blowing."

Let's go back in time to discover the teenager's companions in history. The first men's Triple Crown was won way back in 1924 by O M L Pinto, who won the men's doubles (with Dr C H Gunasekera), the mixed doubles (with Miss C Gillat) and the singles. It took another 26 years before the feat was repeated, by F J de Saram in 1950. His partners were Noel de Costa and Miss Sheila Roberts in the men's and mixed doubles respectively. Twenty years later, in 1970, Rupert Ferdinands was the third Triple Crown winner; D L Fonseka was his men's doubles partner and Wendy Molligoda, the mixed doubles.

For the next 27 years no one managed the feat until Jayaendra Wijesekera did in 1997 - Rohan de Silva and Miss Saranga Sangakkara, sister of Test cricketer Kumar, partnering him in the respective doubles. Last Sunday Godamanna became the youngest, and fifth, Triple Crown winner in history; Amrith Rupasinghe and Mrs. Shalini de Silva were his partners in the two doubles event.

Five men's triple champions in 90 years makes the feat's ratio, one in 18 years. The turnover among the women, though, is higher. Since Doreen Sansoni won the women's triple crown in 1935, the feat has been repeated a dozen other times. Ranjani Jayasuriya won a hat trick of triples in 1957, 58 and 59 and Indian Dechu Appiah did the same over the next three years (60, 61, and 62). Saranga Sanagakkara won the triple twice (1996 and '97) while Indonesia Lita Liem (1965) L. Weerasuriya (1988), Anushka Rajiyah (1999) and Shalini Pereira (2001) each won it once.

No one has won the men's Triple Crown more than once, underlining the difficulty of its achievement. But Godamanna, with many years ahead of him and his extraordinary talents, looks a safe bet to become the first to repeat the feat another time. But pursuing such ambitions doesn't quite fit into his scheme of things. "I am looking at two options for the next four years: to take up a tennis scholarship in the US or play in the Asian pro circuit. If I happen to be here at the time of the Nationals, then, I'll have a go - otherwise there are other dreams to chase," says Godamanna. The good news, though, is that what ever he chooses, it going to be a part of a build up to future Davis Cup campaigns.

"It means a lot for the country's tennis that we get promotion to Group Two (of Davis Cup). We might have achieved that (last July) but against opponents who have had greater international exposure, we were a little short on experience, '' says Godamanna. "Obviously, the idea of securing a US tennis scholarship or playing in the Asian circuit is to try and fill that gap in international experience."

Godamanna was one of some half-dozen young players the SLTA identified in the new millennium as players of the future - and invested in his junior career through overseas exposure and training. In 2002 he repaid the faith reposed in him by winning the ITF Junior under 18 Singles title in Islamabad, the first Sri Lankan to win an international singles title overseas. In the year following, he won a bronze medal in Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad. As well, he was a Davis Cup representative in 2002 in Bangladesh and 2003 in Colombo, but failed to win in three singles and one doubles appearances. But last July in Hong Kong, he reaped four wins in Davis Cup, the premier world team event, defeating a Vietnamese, Bahraini, Qatari in the Singles and the Qatari pair in the doubles, partnering Rajeev Rajapakse.


 6th Senior Asian Netball Championships 2005-

Sri Lanka meet Hong Kong tomorrow

By Hishan Welmilla

Defending champions Sri Lanka will take on Hong Kong tomorrow (Monday, September 5) as their first outing in the 6th Senior Asian Netball championships, which is now in progress in Singapore.

The match is scheduled to get underway at 4 pm local time (2pm Sri Lanka time). According to the reports from Singapore Sri Lankans are the favourite in tomorrow's game against Hong Kong. A win in this match will certainly boost the moral of the Lankans on their way to retain the title for the third consecutive time.

The match between Sri Lanka and Thailand will be held on Tuesday, September 6 at 4pm local time (2pm Sri Lanka Time) .Sri Lanka has been drawn in to Pool A with Thailand and Hong Kong.

Sri Lankan Netball Captain Harshini Wijelath expressing her views before the departure said that her team has a confidence of reaching the finals of the championship and retain the Asian Netball supremacy for the third consecutive year.

The sixth edition of the Senior Asian Netball Championship got underway on yesterday at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall. The host nation Singapore, Malaysia, India and Maldives were drawn into Pool B and Singapore met Maldives on the opening day of the championship, which followed after a grand opening ceremony.

Malaysia will meet India in a group B match while Thailand is meeting Hong Kong in a group A match today (Sunday).

Another group B match between Maldives and Malaysia also scheduled for tomorrow (Monday). The first round matches of the championship will be concluded on Tuesday. India will take on Maldives while Singapore meet Malaysia in-group B.

In the men's tournament, Hong Kong, India, Maldives and Singapore had sent their teams and first of the men's matches will be held on September 7 between India and Singapore. The Men's match between Hong Kong and Singapore will get underway on September 9.

Sri Lanka Netball team from Harshini Wijayalatha (Capt), Gayathri Lankatilleke (V.Capt), Ratna Victoria, Arunika Karawita,Sherine Nugera,Iresha Koralagodage, Saduni Bolagala, Mangalika Priyadharshani, Shashika Samarasinghe, Tharijini Sivalingum, Sujani Dilrukshi Gamage, Chandi Perera,

Astra Cup U-15 Division cricket

All island inter schools under 15 Division Cricket Tournament entered the final stage.

The Under 15 division 1 final between St. Peter's College, Colombo and D. S. Senanayake College Colombo will be played on Saturday October 3 and Sunday October 4 at the Thurstan College new grounds at Professor Stanley Wijesundara Mawatha.

The under 15 College entered the final beating S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia in the semi final and Sri Sumanagala M.M.V. Panadara in the quarter finals. St. Peter's entered the final beating St. Aloysius College, Galle.

This match will be an important juncture in the the Sri lankan schools cricket calendar and for young budding cricketers of the island.

This tournament is organised by the Sri Lankan schools cricket Association and sponsored by  Unilevers for the Astra trophy.

 The chucking controversy

Lawson's action cleared by the ICC

Jermaine Lawson, the West Indian fast bowler, has been cleared by the International Cricket Council over his suspect bowling action. Lawson, 23, was pulled up for a dodgy bowling action for the second time in his career during the first Test in Colombo recently but the ICC felt his action fell within the prescribed limits.

"That is the formal position. They have found that his deliveries on average are within the 15 degrees," said Phillip Service, the Jamaica-based territorial development officer of the West Indies Cricket Board, to CMC Sports. "He has passed the test. However, we need to be continually aware that this is the second time he has been reported so he needs to maintain his fitness on one hand and also be reminded of the various things we worked on during his remediation."

Lawson had to undergo an ICC-mandated independent analysis of his action by Dr.Paul Hurrion, the London-based biomechanics expert. He was also excluded from the 28-man training squad for Jamaica for the President's Cup in October. However, Service added that Lawson was free to continue his career.

Lawson, who has taken 50 wickets in 12 Tests, also had his action reported by the ICC in 2003 after the Test series against Australia.

 The Ashes 2005

MacGill in the frame for The Oval

The legspinner, Stuart MacGill, has emerged as a contender for Australia's make-or-break fifth Test at The Oval next week, as their coach, John Buchanan, sized up the options available to his team. Australia need a victory to secure a 2-2 share of the series and retain the Ashes for the ninth series in a row.

MacGill, 34, has taken 160 wickets in 33 Tests since making his debut in 1998, but the pre-eminence of Shane Warne has restricted him to a walk-on role in the Australian squad. Nevertheless, against England, MacGill has a remarkable tally of 39 wickets in just six Tests, and he could be called upon to replace the ineffectual Michael Kasprowicz, and shore up an attack that has relied too heavily on Shane Warne and Brett Lee.

"The Oval historically provides bounce and it provides turn," Buchanan told AFP. "That aids both pace bowlers who hit the deck and spin bowlers because they actually get bounce with some turn. Therefore, I am sure [chairman of selectors] Trevor Hohns would say, Stuart MacGill is very much in the equation."

Buchanan would not be drawn on any other possible changes, which might include the replacing of Matthew Hayden at the top of the order. Until recently, Hayden was ranked as the No. 1 batsman in the world with an average in excess of 58, but he has failed to pass 70 in his last 30 innings, and has been badly found out by England's pace attack this summer.

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