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Editorial

November 25, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 23


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Chasm between promise and performance

By T.M.K Samat in Australia

MAHELA Jayewardene isn’t the sort of leader who’ll go back on his words. So, you won’t hear him confessing regret over the tall claims he made about a month ago that the time was right for Sri Lanka to sock Australia in their own backyard, something no country has managed to do since the Viv Richards-led West Indies did against Alan Border’s men back in 1992-93. The Sri Lankan leader’s promise, as you know, didn’t get anywhere near fruition.

Jayewardene explained the shortfall in his prognosis was due not so much to a lack of talent in his personnel as their failures to perform at the level of their capabilities. "We had more to offer than this," was how he described it.

Jayewardene, a personification of decency, is not one who’d even whisper anything disparaging about his men. But on this occasion he’s overstretching his generosity a tad too far. After all, the essence of the game is about one team asserting its strength over the other; one striving to blunt the other, technically and mentally — to put it another way, compelling the opposition into the sort of predicament Jayewardene complains about.

The Aussies succeeded overwhelmingly in reducing us to that level of ineptness, as their triumphs in both of the Tests show, the first by an innings and 40 runs and the other, by 96 runs. Those sorts of margins suggest we would have had to be twice as better than we actually were — let’s be frank here: a team performs only as well as the opposition allows it.

And Australia didn’t allow Sri Lanka to perform any better than it did. That is the hard, unalterable fact, and any one trying to give a rose tint to that is, well, a good candidate for the best salesperson title.

This is not to ridicule the captain’s bullishness, which, admittedly, is a virtue in modern sport given that teams won’t give up on any trick that might win a psychological point or two before the battle. It has to be said though, Jayewardene wasn’t trying to play Muhammad Ali, as his pre-tour claim wasn’t exactly an empty boast intended to destabilise the world champions. Rather, he had some solid reasons to believe that his team could beard the lion in his own den.

The last time Sri Lanka was in Australia, in 2004, it had done exceptionally well to draw one of the two Tests. Since then the Sri Lankans had achieved quite some remarkable feats, winning Tests in England and New Zealand and in-between routing the formidable South Africans, 2/0, in Colombo. That plus some commendable achievements in the shorter game — a 5/0 swamping of England and the second-best finish at the World Cup —all lent some credibility to Jayewardene’s claim.

It didn’t take long, though, before his claim began to ring hollow. Their three-day warm up against Queensland, the only State level opposition encountered, was conceded by four wickets — despite the home team omitting two of their three Australian Test caps. What, then, could we have to offer against the full might of Australia? Pretty much nothing, though one man rather bravely dared to row against the tide. Sangakkara’s epic 192 was stuff of what dreams are made of. But to overhaul world cricket’s biggest victory target, of 507 runs, you need more than one man’s brilliance; you need one or two more century makers. In the event, there was only just another half-centurion — and three zeros, two of them first-ball victims.

But then, the inconsistency of our batting specialists in Australia shouldn’t surprise anyone. It is a malady that has been around for quite some time, the ODI series versus England being the most recent. Only once did the Sri Lankan batting surpass 250, a continuous failure that led to the loss of that series, 2/3.

Test cricket, of course, is different. Yet, that the series produced just two centuries and four half centuries from the Sri Lankan camp, as against the Australians’ five hundreds and seven half centuries speak of the unbridgeable chasm between the two countries.

So, the bottom line is that Sri Lanka cricket is yet some distance away from being able to mount a serious challenge on the world champions. The recent mass retirements of their established stars, Warne, McGrath, Langer and Martyn had raised hopes that this time around the battles might run closer. That was not to be, and the Australians have reason to believe that they’ve made a smooth transition, though the strength of their new-look team is likely to face a sterner test against India next month.

By the time the next Test tour to Australia comes around, it is fairly certain that the likes of Vaas, Muralitharan and Jayasuriya would be in retirement; Atapattu already has bid farewell of Sri Lanka cricket. So, uncertain times lie ahead, and there’s much to do to ensure a secure future. Jayewardene has already pointed out the need for a domestic tournament worthy of a Test-playing country. The present club-based competition is anything but a viable feeder to the national side. "The climb up from our premier domestic competition to the national side is too steep," said Jayewardene.

The skipper isn’t the first to point out this deficiency in our domestic competitions. The obviousness of that deficiency has long been a talking point. There are practical, economic as well as historical difficulties why our domestic cricket remains representative of clubs, mostly Colombo-based, and not country, as it is in all other Test-playing countries. Successive administrations have offered the convenient excuse that because of the lack of employment opportunities, the migration of the better outstation talents to Colombo is inevitable — and so, Sri Lanka cricket has had to live with an archaic and unhelpful domestic tournament.

But it is no secret that the system lends itself to politics, with the club votes that decide cricket’s administrators notoriously up for sale to the highest bidders. That was then. Now Sri Lanka cricket has become a pawn in the chess board of national politics, with the government empowered to choose men of its liking as the game’s administrators – through appointments to the interim committee. That really is an old story. Suffice to say that the last interim committee didn’t have a single past cricketer – instead it included close pals of the then Sport Minister as well as the minister’s brother-in-law. That’s how bad the system has got.

So, while Jayewardene speaks of changes that ought to be made so that Australia can be challenged more seriously in the future, it will all be water down a duck’s back if nothing is done about the corrupt system that chooses the game’s administrators. It’s not that the cricketing fraternity doesn’t have capable administrators– e.g. S. Skandakumar, Vijay Malalasekera, M. Tissera, Sidath Wettimuny, Kushil Gunasekera, Ashantha de Mel, all members of past interim committees that performed admirably during the game’s troubled times.

If the likes of those mentioned above aren’t going to be the game’s decision-makers, then, Jayewardene might as well be talking his ideas of how to sock the Aussies to, well, the Greeks.


Donald Steel Trophy

The Victoria Golf and Country Resort will again be the host venue of the Donald Steel Trophy. To be played over 36 holes on December 9 (Saturday) and 10 (Sunday), and February 10, 2008 this stableford format competition is the 10th edition of the event.

The Donald Steel Trophy will be awarded to the gentlemen player recording the best stableford score over the two rounds. The net winner will receive the Ebert Pot and the Pam Fernando Trophy will be awarded to the best lady golfer’s gross score over the 36 holes. The net Ladies event is the Victoria Bowl.

The name behind the tournament is Donald Steel. He presented the Donald Steel Trophy to Victoria Golf and Country Resort (the Victoria Golf Club) and inaugurated the first Donald Steel Trophy in 1999.

Steel is one of the best golf course architects that the British Isles has produced — right up there with Dr. Alaistair MacKenzie and Harry Colt et al. MacKenzie was the designer along with the great amateur golfer, Bobby Jones of Augusta National, home of The Masters Tournament. Steel will be regarded as a major influence on golf course design just like MacKenzie and Colt, as his ability to blend a course to the landscape enhances, rather than ruins the landscape the golf course sits upon. Victoria Golf Course is the perfect example of this skill.

Steel forged the Victoria Golf Course as a part of Mark Bostock’s dream and legacy, out of the landscape with minimum soil movement and minimum damage to the ecology, and is the only golf course architect to have advised all the clubs or courses on which the Open Championship has been played. He is the only architect to have given significant advice for 70 years at the Home of Golf and provided the Master Plan for the modern St. Andrews.

Steel was the only writer and architect to play in the Open Championship as an amateur during his youth. He continues his influence and guidance of the game in the UK and beyond — he was President, British Association of Golf Course Architects from 1986 to 1989, President, Association of Golf Writers from 1993 to 1998 and President, English Golf Union 2006. He was the first ever golf writer for the Daily Telegraph in London from 1961 until 1990 and has written 10 books on golf — all a fascinating read and highly recommended.

Victoria Golf and Country Resort is justifiably proud of the golf course he created on the peninsula of land next to the Victoria Lake. Donald Steel’s words describe Victoria with obvious fondness: "Some golf courses have a splendid undulating terrain over which the holes are routed. Some have a scenic backdrop of hills and lakes which excite the senses. The Victoria Golf course is blessed with both."

The current holder of the Donald Steel Trophy is Sujeewa Lankathilake. Sujee- wa was in a golden streak of form in February 2007 and is bound to be high on the list of potential winners for the 2008 Trophy. Other very likely contenders are Iain Tait, Nimal Wettimuny and young charger Chamil Wickrama- singhe.

The other gentlemen’s trophy on offer is also linked to Donald Steel — the Ebert Pot, presented by one of Donald Steel’s closest collaborators on the Victoria project, Martin Ebert. This remarkable Englishman was a major influence and driving force behind the golf course design and ongoing upkeep, and is a regular player in the Donald Steel Trophy event, and winner of the event on three occasions. The 2007 Ebert Pot Champion was Andrew Udeshi. The possible winner of the "pot" is extensive as the player’s handicaps become involved so that anyone in the field could win.

The Pam Fernando Trophy is named after Sri Lanka’s greatest ever lady-golfer and is an open contest amongst the best Sri Lanka can muster. It is a perfect taster for the Queen Sirikit Cup later in March 2008. Suven Selvaratnam who won the 2007 Pam Fernando Cup is bound to defend her title in 2008. The Victoria Bowl — a magnificent piece of Waterford Crystal will be open to all as the net ladies event. Odds are that this will go to one of four Victoria residents — Pauline Morley, Indira Tibblin, Sonia Boyle or Linda Harris. There is bound to be a big challenge from overseas as well.

Entry fees are set at Rs.2000 for members and Rs.2500 for non members, US$100 for overseas members and US$200 for overseas players (non members). This includes three rounds of golf, welcome cocktail, tournament shirt, cap and goodie bag.

Accommodation specials during the Donald Steel Trophy can be booked by calling +94 (0) 777 844 166 or email ms@victoriagolf.lk. Further email enquiries or details can be obtained from the General Manager on gm@victoriagolf.lk.

For more information or clarification, contactDhanushika Medagoda — Marketing Assistant,Victoria Golf and Country Resort, Rajawella, on marketing@victoriagolf.lk (+94 (0) 777 840 894).


Royalists do a hat-trick

The Colombo 7 lads proved that they are superior in the game of water-polo when they won the Dr. R.L. Hayman Trophy for the 3rd consecutive year at the Sugathadasa Swimming pool in the presence of a packed crowd. Royal College, having won the first leg with a considerable lead — 8-3, did not have it easy with the Thomians who went down displaying the Thomian grit and ended the second leg 8 all.

However the Royalists won the trophy with the final aggregate of 16 goals to 11 scored by the Thomians. Incidentally this score of 16 scored by the Royalists is a record in the 16 encounters played so far.The atmosphere was electrifying when the match started at 6.p.m. under lights. Supporters from both schools were awaiting the much looked forward to event in the water sports calendar to begin. The chief guest Attorney General, C.R. de Silva, PC was escorted by the Royal College junior band along with the Guest of Honour, Rizan Nazeer, secretary, Royal College OBU, The Warden, St. Thomas’ College, Dr. David Ponniah and the Principal, Royal College, Upali Gunasekera. The match commenced on time to the cheers of supporters of both schools and the Thomians drew first blood scoring a goal but the Royalists managed to end the first quarter 3-2. The second quarter totally belonged to the Royalists and ended with 3 goals to a solitary goal by the Thomians. At this juncture the total tally with the first leg score read 14 goals to 5. But in the 3rd quarter the Thomians came back strong showing their Thomian grit and won 4-nil. The fourth quarter was so tense with the Royalists determined to get back in the game and theymanaged to score 2 goals against 1 goal scored by the Thomians to make the 2nd leg a tie. In the final analysis based on the aggregate score Royal won the Dr. R.L. Hayman Trophy for the 3rd consecutive year.


50th SylvestrianVidyartha big match

by Hafiz Marikar

The two newly elected Presidents of the 0ld Boys Associations of St. Sylvester’s College and Vidyartha College — Malcom Perera and L.B. Aluwihare, the Mayor of Kandy, are all out to make the Golden Jubilee 50th Sylvestrian-Vidyartha big match known as the "Battle of Babes" is set to be a colourful one with many surprises.

Malcolm Pereira, a top class cricket coach and administrator who had a chat with this writer said that he hopes to meet the President, Vidyartha OBA, L.B. Aluwihare who was one time Vidyartha wicketkeeper/batsman, to discuss the arrangements for the Golden Jubilee encounter.

Malcolm Perera, Coaching Manager, Sri Lanka Cricket, took over the presidency of the Sylvestrian Old Boys Association recently and his committee is making arrangements to make this 50th cricket encounter the best in the series.

They have plans to invite all past cricketers, captains and coaches for this match.

A Sylvestrian’s Family Night and a Sylvestrian Walk (on the day before the big match) are also on the agenda.

Malcolm Perera said that St. Sylvester’s now in its 67th year has produced top students in sports and the academia.

He plans to assist his alma mater to develop sports and in several areas that need to be developed.


Sports happenings at a glance

Cricket

Monday

Malik and Yousuf inspire Pakistan

A CENTURY partnership for the fourth wicket between Skipper Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf spurred Pakistan to a 31 run win in the final of the Indian Oil Cup ODI series to reduce the lead to a consolation 3-2 in the final 5th ODI played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.

Scores: Pakistan 306 for 6 wickets in 50 overs. India: 275 all out in 49.5 overs

Defending champions NCC lose

Rideegam Mana Gedera hit a top score of 88 runs while Rangana Herath took four wickets as moors SC defeated the defending champions NCC by 116 runs in the Premier League Tier’ A’ limited over match played at Braybrooke Place .All rounder Hashantha Fernando smashed an unbeaten 117 helped Chilaw Marians SC beat SSC also in a same tournament match played at Maitland Place.

Scores: Moors SC 259 for 7 wickets in 50 overs, NCC 143 all out in 34.5 overs, SSC 218 all out in 49.3 overs, Chilaw Marians SC 219 for 8 wickets in 48.3 overs.

Basilica College Ragama wins –Lemonade Trophy

THE FIFTIETH SCHOOLS six-a –side tournament conducted by the Old Wesleyites Sports Club and sponsored by Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd. saw new comers Basilica College Ragama emerge winners beating all fancied teams to clinch the Lemonade trophy. They defeated Nalanda College by 16 runs in the final played at Campbell Place.

Scores: Basilica College Ragama 97 for 3 in five overs , Nalanda College: 81 for 1 wicket in 5 overs.

Steyn bowls South Africa to an innings win over New Zealand within 3 days

Dale Steyn second ten wicket haul

South Africa crushed new Zealand by an innings and 59 runs on the third day of the 2nd Test played at the Centurion.

Scores: New Zealand 1st Innings: 188 all out and 2nd Innings 136 all out, South Africa 1st Innings: 383 all out.

Rugby

Seylan Bank clinch Mercantile Rugby 7’s crown

Star-Studded formidable Seylan Bank team clinched the Mercantile Rugby 7’s crown for the second consecutive year beating John Keells by 34 points to 10 in the cup final played at Longden Place

Tennis

Federer seals Masters Title

World number one Roger Federer claimed his fourth Masters title defeating David Ferrer of Spain in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in just one hour and 38 minutes.

Water Polo

Royal retains Dr R.L.Hayman trophy

A late rally by S.Thomas ’College enabled them to hold Royal College to an eight all draw in the second leg of the Dr R.L.Hayman Water Polo fixture concluded at the Sugathadasa swimming complex.

Tuesday

Cricket

Atapattu’s comments have come in for condemnation

Marvan Atapattu’s outburst of calling the selectors a set of ‘ Muppets’ headed by a Chief selector a ’Joker’ has come in for condemnation by Sri Lankans living in different states in Australia.

Dilshan steals the limelight

TILEKERATNE Dilshan’s blazing run of success with the bat for his club Bloomfield was the highlight of the Premier League inter club limited overs cricket tournament which got off to sensational start with several leading clubs having had to face unexpected defeats. At present Bloomfield were leading Tier ‘A" with 15 points after the third round matches.

Mathew Sinclair to join New Zealand

VETERAN opening batsman Mathew Sinclair has been called into the New Zealand cricket team for the up coming limited overs series against South Africa as a replacement for injured Craig Cumming.

Namal clinches triple crown

SRI LANKA’S former Women’s national champion Namal Gunasekera of Lake House Sports Club bagged a triple crown at the open Veterans Table Tennis Championships held at the S.Thomas’ indoor stadium Mount Lavinia.

Rugby

Youth Rugby Asiad begins on December 14

SRI LANKA will take part in the under 20 Asian Rugby Championships which will be worked off in Brunei from December 14 to the 20. Sri Lanka will play in Division one along with Hong Kong, Korea,Malaysia,Thailand,Singapore and Guam while Chinese Taipei,Philippines,Arabian Gulf, Brunei and India will vie for honours in Division two.

Dr. Maiya appointed as Chairman

FORMER Sri Lankan rugby player, Chief National selector and Union President Dr. Maiya Gunasekera has been appointed the new Chairman of the National Sports Council which will comprise of 15 members.

Boxing

Boxing National commence

THE National Boxing Championship conducted by the ABA will get underway at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium. This four day event will conclude on November 23.

Wednesday

Cricket

Sangakkara robbed of history as Aussies win

RUDI KOERTZEN one of the most senior umpires in the elite panel of World cricket, brought justice in the game to zero level making a mess of the end of the second and final Test which gave Australia a 93 run win mover Sri Lanka at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. He made a dubious umpiring decision to give Kumar Sangakkara caught behind when the ball was never near his bat. As Sangakkara left dejected, dismissed at 192 walked away Koetzen’s integrity and Posting’s gamesmanship came into inevitable questioning.

Scores: Australia 1st Innings 542 for 5 declared and 2nd Innings 210 for 2 wickets declared Sri Lanka 1st Innings 246 all out 2nd Innings 410 all out.

Umpire apologises to Sangakkara over dismissal

THE umpire from the elite panel of umpires of the ICC Rudy Koertzen has apologised to Sangakkara after mistakenly giving him out on the final day of the side’s second Test defeat against Australia.

Atapattu announces

retirement

THE Celebrated cricketer former skipper made his expected retirement from Test cricket after the completion of the second Test in Hobart, and is listed to be in channel Nine as a commentator during the triangular series which involves India, Sri Lanka and Australia for the Commonwealth bank sponsored tri series in late January.He was given an emotional send off by the team mates. Atapattu thanked everyone except the "Muppets" in his retirement note.

Tharanga makes England toil

UPULTharanga struck form with a timely unbeaten 92 as he made the England bowlers toil after skipper T.M.Dilshan opted to take first lease of the wicket after winning the toss at the CCC grounds.

Scores: Board President’s XI 1st Innings 218 for 3 wickets at close.

Billiards

Rohana and Tilakaratne enter Billiards final

ANILRohana of Carlton BC and B.R.Tillakaratne of BRC booked their berths to fight in the finals of All Island Lanka Plate Billiard Championship to be held at the Billiards headquarters table in Reid Avenue.

Boxing

Army and Slimline

in forefront

THE four day boxing championship which began at the Sugathadasa indoor Stadium saw the main contenders defending champions Army and Slim line SC dominate the proceedings.

Golf

Dubai to host ‘world’s richest golf tournament

THE European PGA tour announced that the Gulf Emirates of Dubai will host a lucrative 10 million dollars (6.8 million euros) season-ending event from November 2009.

Thursday

Brazil to rebound in World cup qualifier

BRAZIL is looking to return to peak form when it hosts Uruguay in a World cup qualifier, which is an important fixture for both teams.

Friday

Cricket

Cook and Collingwood

strike form

THE ENGLISH team in their first warm up match had good batting practice when they made 315 for the loss 6 wickets on the final day against the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI played at the CCC grounds. Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood made half centuries.

Scores: Sri Lanka Board President’s XII 1st Innings 500 for 5 wickets declared. England XI 315 for 6 wickets at close.

Compiled by SuniThenabadu


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