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14th May,  2006  Volume 12, Issue  45

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                                    

Sports

Young ones preferred over Jayasuriya

By Hishan Welmilla

Sri Lanka veteran Sanath Jayasuriya's hopes of a Test recall receded after he was snubbed for the tourists' first-class match against Sussex.

Neither captain Mahela Jayawardene nor coach Tom Moody were consulted before the decision was made and its seems they have reacted by overlooking the former World Cup winner for the four-day contest at Hove, which began on Thursday.

"We have to continue trying the younger players we have got with us here and we have to give them the opportunity to gain some more exposure and practice before the next Test," said Tissera to the media following the decision.

Jayasuriya, 36, arrived in England in controversial circumstances last weekend after being talked out of Test retirement by new chairman of selectors Asantha de Mel.

Although Jayasuriya has not been ruled out of contention for next week's second Test at Edgbaston, this is the Sri Lankans' only match action prior to travelling to Birmingham and it is difficult to envisage throwing him straight into a Test.

Jayasuriya reneged on his retirement decision only six weeks after being asked to go gracefully rather than be dropped by the previous panel of selectors. According to the reports coming from inside the Sri Lankan camp the recall of the 102-cap veteran clearly caused some unrest despite protestations to the contrary during the drawn first Test at Lord's.

Although Ashantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors the convenor of overall selection, the process of picking sides on tour is overseen by Moody, Jayawardene, vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara and team manager Michael Tissera (tour selectors) and remainedunited in the belief that Sri Lanka must keep faith with their young batsmen

De Mel was scheduled to arrive here on the weekend. It seems that de Mel has stopped short of trying to pressurise the tour selectors to play him next week, following the side's plucky and unexpected draw at Lord's.

Sri Lanka stand in captain Mahela Jayawardena will definitely bank on youngsters during the second test.

"This performance at Lord's has given a lot of confidence to the youngsters because that is what they need. Belief in themselves they could do all this in this level of cricket," said Jayawardene.

With the outstanding performance in the first test the moral in the Sri Lankan camp will be much greater than before when they meet the frustrated England during the second Test.

Meanwhile England coach Duncan Fletcher has said he hopes the poor fielding display his side displayed that allowed Sri Lanka to stage one of the great escapes of Test cricket will not be repeated.

Sri Lanka survived for 199 overs of the Lord's Test to salvage an unexpected draw, and their rearguard action was aided by England dropping nine catches, including misses by normally reliable fielders like stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood.

Their under-par display, in stark contrast to some of their fielding and catching during last summer's Ashes series and the winter tours to Pakistan and India, could be interpreted as a worrying sign.

"You can probably afford to drop one or two catches, but we got on a run with it and that cost us the Test. It was very disappointing but the guys didn't mean to drop the catches and we didn't change our practices, we did the same routines and they caught very, very well" Fletcher stressed

Fletcher remains convinced the under-par fielding display can be dismissed as another Lord's off-day following a similar display against Australia last summer, when a series of dropped catches condemned England to a 239-runs defeat in the opening Test.

Apart from that England captain Andrew Flintoff insisted there was "no doom and gloom" in the camp after nine dropped catches helped Sri Lanka achieve one of cricket's great escapes in the first Test.

The most costly was when Andrew Strauss floored a routine slip chance when man-of-the-match Jayawardene, who'd top scored in his team's first innings with 61, had made 58 second time around.

However, Flintoff maintained morale was still intact as England headed into the second Test of a three-match series, set to start at Edgbaston on May 25.

"The mood in the dressing room is great," the Lancashire all-rounder, deputising for the injured Michael Vaughan, told reporters. "They are a good bunch of lads.

"We would have liked to have come out of this game as a win. But we've got a lot of positives coming out of it." said Flintoff.


World Cup live on Rupavahini

By Hafiz Marikar

good news for the football lovers of Sri Lanka, the 18th FIFA World Cup Football matches will come live on Rupawahini, this was told to The Sunday Leader by the C.E. 0. of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka Chyrisantha Perera.

Holcim Lanka, the world biggest cement producers has come forward as principal sponsor, all the best matches can be seen live. This a great gift to the football lovers, who were wanting see these matches.

It is said, the best matches of the day will be picked and shown. This came in due to the hard work of Manilal Fernando, the Chairman of Holcim Lanka and Chairman of he Management Committee of the Footballl Federation.


Injury hampers Susi again

By Hishan Welmilla

The return of Olympic bronze medallist Susanthika Jayasinghe ended with a misery as she withdrew herself from the next two legs of the Asian Grand Prix after an aggravating injury at the first leg which concluded in Bangkok last Thursday.

The second leg of the Asian Grand Prix is scheduled to be led in Bangalore, India tomorrow.

Immediately after the event Jayasinghe has declared herself out of the next Asian Grand Prix as her main aims would be the South Asian Games and Asian Games to be held later this year.

The return of Susanthika Jayasinghe was eagerly watched in the 200 metres of the Asian Grand Prix as many expected her to find her momentum. The star Sri Lankan sprinter who has not been heard for nearly two years, ran her pet event, the 200 metres at the Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok last Thursday and could not better the performanceswhich she has recorded at the recent UCA international meeting in Los Angeles. She completed a fine double where she won both the women's 100 metres in 11.37 seconds and the women's 200 metres in 23.11 seconds respectively

Jayasinghe clocked 23.45 seconds behind Uzbekistan's Khubbieva Guzel who timed 23.29. She had continued training in the US under Tony Campbell after having missed the Athens Olympics and the Helsinki World championships and looked forward to do winning performance went but loss to

Before the event Asian gold medallist Damayanthi Darsha withdrew from the contingent also due to an injury and Sri Lanka suffered another major blow when one of their promising athletes C. I. Wijekoon(men's 3000 meters) pulled outfollowing high fever.

Rohan Pradeep Kumara who won the 400 metres event was Sri Lanka's only winnerat the first leg whilePrasanna Amarasekara finished second in the event. Kumara clocked 45.81 seconds while Amarasekara timed 46.42.

Among the other Sri Lankans who took part in the event women's 400 metres runner Menaka Wickremasinghe while Umanga Surendra finished sixth in the men's 100 metres.

Rohan and Prasanna will fight to retain their title while another medal hope Harijan Ratnayake who finished fourth in men's 400 meters hurdles will definitely look forward to better his performance to win a medal.

Asian Games year is of prime importance to the Asian athletes no matter that there is no global meet round the corner. With the focus firmly on the Doha Asian Games, set for December, some of Asia's top athletes would be assessing their current form during the three-leg annual Asian Grand Prix circuit. This is the fifth year of the circuit and India, after having declined to host a meet the past two seasons, has taken over the task of hosting two of the legs this time, one in Bangalore on 22 May and the other at Pune on 26 May, where the Baburao Sanas stadium with a newly-laid synthetic track will be the venue.

The presence of a bunch of Asian champions forged the competitive headlines, though the prize fund this year has been reduced, with winners getting 1500 dollars, second securing 800 dollars and third place 500 dollars.


Sri Lanka vs Sussex, Day 2

Kapugedera, Thilan take charge

Chamara Kapugedera and Thilan Samaraweera scored centuries on the second day of their four-day practice match against Sussex at Hove. Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene failed to add to his overnight score of 45, caught behind off James Kirtley with the score on 283. Thilan Samaraweera joined Kapugedera and the pair added 238 runs for the sixth wicket without being parted. At tea, the Lankans declared their first innings with a healthy total of 521 for five wickets.

The weather forecast for the first day at Hove was rotten and yet, much like the Sri Lankans' second innings at Lord's, expectations were defied and things turned out quite beautifully. Upul Tharanga's impressive form continued with a powerful, well-timed hundred, while Mahela Jayawardene pitched in a delightful cameo of 45 not out.

The day may have belonged to Tharanga, who compiled a patient 140 from 252 balls, but the story of the day concerned one man who wasn't even playing: the enigmatic Sanath Jayasuriya. First of all it was a question of 'Will he play, or won't he?' and the answer to that was an emphatic 'He won't' - a telling signal ahead of the Edgbaston Test.

One mystery solved, another immediately arose in its place for an eager press pack who wanted to know more. This time the question was 'Where is he?', prompting the journalists and photographers to rush around trying to find him - and towards the end they may have had some success.

Such frenetic activity was in stark contrast to the lazy, holiday atmosphere of the seaside ground. There was autograph hunting and many games of cricket down one side of the arena, mainly from the schoolchildren on an away day, but plenty of deckchairs and snoozing down the other.

One man who was certainly not treating this game as a picnic was James Kirtley - it was his venture back in the first team since he underwent remodelling work on his action. He was gun-barrel straight but the price of success appears to be two yards of pace. Still, just to be playing cricket will do him just fine for now - and he led the side to boot.

As the weather improved throughout, Sri Lanka's batsmen bloomed in the last two sessions on a sun-drenched pitch. They appeared to have mastered the English conditions - and after three days' batting earlier this week it's no wonder - as they coursed to 283 for 4 by stumps.

Tharanga was particularly strong with a straight bat through the offside, off his front and backfoot. He mixed clean hitting with patience, although he was helped by some wayward Sussex bowling, especially from Duncan Spencer.

Sri Lanka scored quickly to start with but lost Jehan Mubarak, and then were tied down with a change of bowling as Timothy Lindley and Luke Wright put the mockers on. Chris Nash was next to strike, in the over just before lunch. He trapped Michael Vandort lbw sweeping - and continued to tease the Sri Lankans with lots of flight.

Although he didn't find any more wickets, he did find a few inside edges which dribbled to fine leg. As the day dozed on, Kumar Sangakkara was caught low at backward point - and he waited for the umpires to give him out though he was clearly out.

Scores: Sri Lankans 521 for 5 dec. (Kapugedara 134*, Samaraweera 100*) v Sussex


Lanka hockey team out of Asian Games

By Hishan Welmilla

Hopes of Sri Lanka men's hockey team to play in the Asian Games shattered as they finished sixth place at the conclusion of the eight day of the in the Asian Games Qualifying Hockey Championship held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from May 11.

Lankan finished sixth in the table with 3 points while Bangladesh topped the table with 13 points. Hong Kong (12 points) and Oman (10 points) has the second and third places respectively. Chinese Taipei (9 pints) and Singapore (4 points) were the other two countries finished ahead of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka managed to beat only Iran (2-0) out of their five games in the round one and lost to Singapore (3-1), Hong Kong (5-1) and Oman (1-0) . The met Chinese Taipei for the sixth and seventh place on the last day of the championship (May 19)

Hong Kong, Oman and Chinese Taipei have joined Bangladesh in confirming their participation at the Asian Games .Before the end of the tournament, the four have already secured their place to compete in Asian Games 2006 in Doha, Qatar, from 2-14 December, this year.

In a tight round of matches, each clash on day eight was decided by a single goal as the teams on top of the ladder attempted to qualify for the 10-team tournament that will also serve as the Asian Hockey Federation's qualifier for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) has decided to introduce a qualifying tournament for the Asian Games for the first time.

The second-tier teams of the continent would be featuring in the qualifying competitions for the first time since the inclusion of hockey into the Games in 1958. The decision to have an Asian Game qualifying event was announced by the AHF Secretary General Tan Sri P. Alagendra in January this year in Kuala Lumpur.

The qualifiers would be held both for the men and women. Seeded teams would get direct entries in the Asian Games and will have 10 teams in the men's category and eight in the women's.


Doors open to foreign players

By T.M.K. Samat

WHEN Hong Kong's rugby selectors realized that their scrumhalf, one of the replacements for eight absent regulars, might not be a safe selection for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka, they rang London for a better one. And two days before the match, last Sunday, Mark Wright, a top scrum half studying in the Loughborough University, flew in, helped fashion Hong Kong's 45/14 win and then flew back to his studies.

It was Wright's international debut, and if you suspect the Hong Kong Union of any selection skullduggery, it was anything but that. Wright, you see, was born in Hong Kong in times when the place was a British colony - and that, as far as the IRB is concerned, is good enough reason for any expatriate to represent a country that isn't his home. Expatriate players with no birth connection to a country can also do the same providing they've resided more than three years in the country they wish to play for.

This has been a fact of life in international rugby for quite some years, and a number of Asian countries, including powerhouse Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, have taken advantage of IRB's residency-qualification rule to muscle their teams with Australians, Britons, Kiwis, Fijians, Samoans; et al.

Once upon a time Sri Lanka found opponents like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia rather easy meat. Not so, though, in more recent times -largely due to the presence of expatriates in those teams.

Commendable as Sri Lanka's all-local policy was, it didn't help the team achieve upward mobility, and early last year slithered to no.10 in the Asian rankings. So, not surprisingly, it has now decided to open the door to expatriates. The Sports Ministry this month approved a SLRFU proposal to include expatriates in the National team. The proposal, however, is nothing like the dial-a-piazza method of Hong Kong. No carte blanche this, as the Ministry approval restricts inclusion of only expatriates with Sri Lankan blood lines. The required genealogy is that one of the prospective expatriate player's parents or grandparents should've been born in Sri Lanka.

For the time being, the inclusion of foreigners on the basis of the three-year residency rule doesn't arise. For a start, the SLRFU will apply the IRB three-year residency rule to clubs for domestic competitions. "The IRB rule is to be enforced for the domestic tournament as well - what this means is that players can't represent clubs until they've resided in Sri Lanka for three years. We don't want expats playing for a season or two and then quitting the country; that would prevent nurturing local players for the National team," said SLRFU CEO, Dilroy Fernando. "We need the sort of expat players who can be part of National team-building process - and for that they'll have to make a firm long term commitment."

The SLRFU's website notice calling for players with qualifications to represent Sri Lanka has had a favourable response. "We had eight inquiries, all from Australia and England. They've all played at the club level overseas. I am sure we'll have more inquiries once word gets around," said CEO Fernando. "We've also sounded SLRFU representatives overseas to scout around for eligible players."

The whole idea was inspired by one random inquiry from an expatriate even before the Union had contemplated opening the National team doors to foreigners. Ravindra Dissanayake from England sent in his CV to the Union and asked if he can make himself available for Sri Lanka. One thing led to another and last February Dissanayake flew to Colombo to play in the selection trials for the Commonwealth Games and Hong Kong Sevens. The selectors thought he was better suited for Fifteens rugby, but hopes of his availability for the second round WC qualifiers were scuttled because of his studies.

Another player who is eager to put on the Sri Lanka jersey is Andrew Patternot, son of Hamish Patternot, a Havelocks and CH three-quarter of the early 1970s before migrating to Australia in the 80s. Andrew is being spoken of as a prospect for the Victorian state team. Another player the SLRFU are inquiring after is the son of former CR prop Dushantha Samarasekera who plays club rugby in Canada.

"We don't know just how many are out there, but we'll try to search them out. The plan is to build up a bank of expatriate players and make them available to clubs," said CEO Fernando. "You have to accept that those playing at a decent club level in countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand will have acquired superior skills - a level of skills difficult to acquire from playing in our domestic tournaments," said CEO Fernando. "If we are to join the big league in Asia, then, it is necessary we take the good things from overseas, including players - others countries, after all, have been doing it from long time ago."


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