Our batsmen face a
MUCH of the debate emanating from Sri Lanka's selections
for the tri-nation series in Australia,
beginning next week, has been centred on the
exclusion of a second spinner. It does
strike as odd that all but one of the seven
chosen bowlers are pacemen. That glaring
imbalance is countered by the argument that,
when the solitary spinner chosen is the best
on the planet, a second of the same is
The discrepancy in the pace-spin distribution is, no
doubt, worthy of debate, especially when the
casualty happens to be Malinga Bandara, who
in the 2006 tri-nation series in Australia
finished the second most successful bowler,
behind Muralitharan. But so much has been
made solely on Bandara's exclusion it seems
as if the 15-man selections has no other
concerns. Things, though, are anything but
The batting selections seem to have gone unexamined, lost
in the uproar over the exclusion of another
spinner. But then, the selectors picked
pretty much a predictable batting lineup.
The six seniors - Jayawar- dene, Sangakkara,
Jayasu- riya, Tharanga, Chamara Silva and
Dilshan - were obvious choices in the
eight-man batting lineup. Less certain,
though were the other two: Dilruwan Perera
SC and Chamara Kapugedera (20), CCC.
Both have already had their ODI initiation, Kapugedera in
2006 and Perera, a year after. Clearly,
their selections are investments in the
future; though, perhaps, some debate on the
latter's inclusion is to be expected.
Although the former Dharmarajah batsman
debuted impressively in the 2006 tri-nation
in Australia, he hasn't quite lived up to
his immense potential. In 22 ODIs, Kapuge-
dera has managed just one 50, aggregated 273
and averaged 16.05 - not the sort of figures
you would associate with one who a year ago
was considered the rising star of Sri Lanka
It has been
nearly two years since the right hand
stylist made his international debut. And
that he hasn't yet hinted at establishing
permanency questions the decision to persist
with him. Just 20 years, his age, perhaps,
is why selectors chose to persevere with
him. Patience, however, is not
inexhaustible, and just how he performs in
the coming days is likely to determine his
have preferred 28-year-old Malinda Warnapura,
a prolific scorer for the national 'A' team
and also has two Test appearances, both v.
Bangladesh, scoring a personal best of 82.
But he is essentially an opener and might
likely have been considered, along with
Dilruwan Perera, as understudy to veteran
Jayasuriya. Were it so, Perera probably won
out on his abilities as an off spinner. Just
how well he might stand up in international
cricket as a spinner wasn't revealed in his
ODI debut, in the final encounter v. England
last October. He wasn't required to bowl as
the Englishmen were disposed of in 29.1
overs. But as a batsman, he hit a 41-ball
thirty, a promising debut effort.
Not being a part of the established batting lineup, the
frequency of the duo's exposure in the
tri-nation will only be revealed as the
tournament progresses. The month-long
itinerary includes eight firm fixtures, with
Sri Lanka meeting each of its two opponents,
Australia and India, four times. Three more
games could be added should we qualify for
the best of three final. There is no thing
as an easy match in this tri-nation and
hence little room for experimentation with
the young pair. So, the possibility of their
inclusion will depend on just how
disappointing the seniors might prove to be
- the prospect of which we'll discuss later.
This much is certain: our batsmen will face a searching
examination against two bowling attacks,
presently firing on all cylinders. The
reputation of the Australian bowlers, of
course, is established, but the Indians'
bowling attack is a revelation. Their pace
bowlers have been outstanding in Australia,
and their accounting of 18 of 20 Australian
batting in their triumphant Perth Test must
rank as one of the best ever achievements by
any visiting team in recent times.
Craft and intelligence
they might not have, but plentiful in craft
and intelligence, no better illustration of
those virtues coming from teenager, Sharma.
The 19-year-old Delhi dasher subjected the
world's best batsman, Ponting, to endless
torture with his pin-point accuracy and
movement - until he finally claimed the home
skipper. Irfan Pathan, back after a while in
the wilderness, is sharper than he ever was,
and his total commitment suggests he is
unwilling to put to risk again his career.
R.P. Singh, however, has been the most
successful, his pace and accuracy earning
him a dozen wickets in three Tests completed
so far. Add to that the 600-wicket-man,
Kumble and Harbajan Singh, and you have an
attack as good as any around.
The Aussie attack
As for the Australians' attack, the Sri Lankan batsmen
are only too aware of the difficulties that
await them after their struggles on their
month-long Test tour of Australia last
The job ahead of our batsmen is going to be a trying one,
to say the least. Just how they will cope,
time will tell, but it would have been
comforting had consistency been one of their
virtues. That, unfortunately, has not been
the case. The batting has been mostly held
together by Sangakkara and skipper
Jayawardene; the former a tad more
consistent than his captain.
Sri Lanka's last ODI series offers little inspiration,
losing 2/3 to an experimental England team.
Sri Lanka's batting failures contributed
largely to this unexpected series loss. Only
once did we manage to surpass a 250-total,
barely cleared 200 twice, totalling 211 both
times and twice, muddled through to 164 and
169. That the two wins over England produced
the two best Sri Lanka opening stands is no
coincident. We won the first and the last
ODIs, the openers yielding stands of 71 and
So, openers Jayasuriya and Tharanga hardly exude thoughts
of reliability, though on their day they can
be breathtakingly devastating. But those
days are getting to be few and far between.
Take the ODI series v. England for instance:
an opening stand of 71 in the first match
was followed by stands of 9, 22 and 7 -
which led to the exclusion of Tharanga from
the final ODI, replaced by Dilruwan Perera.
The new combination produced 45.
Deliver the goods
There was nothing exceptional in the performances of
Jayasuriya either; his highest in the series
against England being 41. The Australian
pitches will be a lot more batsman-friendly
than those found in the stadiums at Dambulla
and the Keththarama, and unless the old firm
of Jayasuriya and Tharanga can show instant
improvement there, the door will surely open
Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Chamara Silva look entrenched
in slots 3-5. It should mostly be Dilshan at
six, providing he performs consistently.
Slot 7, however, is filled with variables.
Though customarily the seventh slot has been
reserved for a batsman, it might not
necessarily be so this time around. If it is
going to be a batsman, Kapugedera could be
the one, though it is possible that Perera
or Jayasuriya, should he be off-form, could
be tried out in the lower order. It will all
depend how well the 20-year old makes of his
first opportunity. There is another option
for slot 7: the inclusion of all-rounder
Maharoof which will make room for another
bowler, of which there is abundance.
The trouble though is that the fifth bowler Maharoof's
would have to come from the stock of
six pacemen, which means the attack will
have more of the same. In terms of variety,
a five-man attack ideally ought to include a
It looks as if the debate over Malinga Bandara's
exclusion won't go away for some time.
Team Frontier 1st
runner-up at RFC 2007
Sri Lankan Team Frontier Automotive-Land Rover duo of
Indika Sanjaya and Navin Marapana emerged
1st Runner-Up (Diesel Category) in the
toughest and most internationally
represented 4x4 off-road event in the world
- the Malaysian Rainforest Challenge 2007 (RFC
2007) concluded in Terengganu last month.
The duo improved on their previous performance to emerge
runners-up only 23 points behind the
winners, Team Demark in a hotly competed
10th anniversary edition of this challenging
international competition which had to go
into evacuation mode titled the
"Monsoon War Zone - The Great
"We were strategising to preserve our vehicle till
the end towards a hard-fought win, but with
at least eight more tougher Special Stages
left, the weather gods decided to test the
RFC participants on their collective team
spirit to beat the forces of nature and get
out of the jungles," said co-driver
While the monsoon rains is an accepted part of the
challenge, especially when it is held in the
state of Teregganu, the rainstorm during the
week just before flag-off day on December 1,
was already a big worry, a two day respite
gave way for a grand opening ceremony and
prologue special stages. At the end of the
prologue stages, the convoy of participants
entered the jungles with a mixed
leader-board. Many hot-favourites had been
handicapped by the luck-of-draw having to
fight a muddy left hand track against a
flat-gravel right hand track in a special
stage where two vehicles compete
side-by-side designed to draw spectator
interest. Team Sri Lanka whose competitive
vigour and leap-bounding improvement in
customised vehicle preparation to suit the
event from the previous year was the
cynosure of the rest of the competition too,
were unfortunate to have got the left hand
On day three, it was still a bright sunny day but rain
clouds were already brewing in the interior
blowing cool air into the campsite along
Lebir River. However, it was still all
systems go with more special stages testing
the superbly crafted off-road competition
machines from Australia, Sri Lanka, Poland,
Italy, Denmark, Austria, Indonesia, China,
Korea, Lebanon, Germany and home country
Moving further the competing teams fought yet another two
special stages which included the most
vertical of inclines where the slightest
error meant a multiple toppling and damaging
of the vehicle. Little did the contingent
realise that later, this merging point of
two main rivers will become one of the major
"battle grounds" of RFC 2007 in
which some, including the main
scout/marshals team would be caught by
rising waters for five nights in a row.
Sri Lankan team in high
The four member women's tennis team is all set to shine
at the Fed Cup scheduled to be held on
January 28, in Thailand. In six years, this
would be the second time a team from the Sri
Lankan Tennis Association (SLTA) would
represent Sri Lanka at this annual
tournament. Nine countries including Sri
Lanka would compete for the Fed Cup
Asia-Oceania Zone (Group 2) Tie namely;
Iran, Jordan Kazakhstan, Korea, Philippines,
Singapore, Syria and Turkmenistan.
The team comprises the top four women's players in the
current Sri Lanka tennis arena. Jithmie
Jayawickrema, Amreetha Muttiah, Nilupul
Goonesekera, and the most experienced
Mahesha Seneviratne with the team
(non-playing) captain cum Coach Niranjan
Casie Chetty has been a Davis Cup player from 1983 to
1985 while being ranked as the number one
player in the Men's event in 1984. He has
been the assistant coach of the Fed Cup team
in 1992 and also of the SAF Games in 1992.
The most experienced player on the team is Mahesha
Senevirathne who has been a five times U-18
National Champion and the current Women's
Doubles Champion. However, with upcoming
players such as Jithmie Jayawickrema,
Amreetha Muttiah and Nilupul Goonesekera the
team has great expectations.
has not taken part in the six previous Fed
Cup tournaments, yet given the training and
experience of the present players in the
team, the SLTA is confident that Sri Lanka
will make its presence felt.
Sri Lanka last played Fed Cup in 2001, winning against
Syria and Fiji and losing to Philippines and
Malaysia. The Fed Cup team in 2001 comprised
Sobhini de Silva, Shalini Pereira,
Mahesha Seneviratne and Vindya Dayananda.
The CEO further stated that SLTA has provided extensive
coaching and extended its facilities to the
senior women's team. The team being mentored
by an experienced coach such as Casie Chetty
and continuously providing exposure to
international tournaments, SLTA is confident
that the local Fed Cup team is skilled and
competent enough to face the competition
from the other competing countries.
The Fed Cup is regarded as the women's version of the
Davis Cup, which began in 1963 as part of
the International Tennis Federation's (ITF)
50th year celebrations. It featured 16
countries at its primary inauguration and
now has grown enormously. At last year's
Cup, it attracted a total of 82 countries.
The competition celebrated its 40th
anniversary in 2003 and as a tribute to the
historic event, a majority of the world's
top 20 players were among the 305 women that
represented their country during the year.
Tennis is a sport that is individualistic, but the Fed
Cup, like the Davis Cup, offers players the
chance to play for their country within a
tightly knit team. It's a challenge that
most players rise to. Tennis is one of the
few, but growing number of sports, where
women play a key role - the Fed Cup provides
an additional spotlight for their talents.
The Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) was established
in 1919 and is the oldest tennis club in
Asia. Through SLTA, Sri Lanka has gained a
reputation as being an appropriate
destination to host both local and
SLTA works towards developing tennis in Sri Lanka as a
professional sport and is hopeful of
producing world ranking tennis players.
Currently the coaching programme at SLTA has over 300
students out of which 30 have been
identified for specialised training.
celebrates Land Rover victory
Frontier Automotive, sole agents for Land Rover in Sri
Lanka, celebrated Land Rover's spectacular
performance at the recently concluded
Malaysian Rain Forest Challenge 2007 where
the Sri Lankan Team No. 101 "TEAM
FRONTIER AUTOMOTIVE -LAND ROVER" Indika
Sanjaya and Navin Marapana emerged 1st
Runners Up (Diesel Category) in the
Malaysian Rainforest Challenge 2007 - the
toughest , most internationally represented
4x4 event in the world.
Amongst those who sponsored the Sri Lankan team were
Frontier Automotive Pvt Ltd. - main sponsor,
the Sports Ministry,
Sports and Public Recreation Minister
- Gamini Lokuge,
Chairman BPO Services Pvt Ltd. -
Thilanga Sumathipala and
Land Rover's sweeping victory at the
recently concluded 4 x 4 Challenge 2007 was
also simultaneously celebrated as Land
Rovers were placed first, second, third and
fifth. "Land Rover's dominance on the
results board was significant and in fact
Land Rover won the Team Prize for the event
and took first place in the category for
Novices as well," said Frontier
Automotive CEO, Sheran Fernando, speaking at
the press briefing.
Aussies firm favourites
By Sunil Thenabadu
The preliminary matches of the tri nation ODI tournament
involving the hosts, Australia, India and
Sri Lanka will commence on February 3, 2008
with the curtain raiser between Australia
and India at the Brisbane Gabba Cricket
The preliminary rounds of the tournament will end on
February 29 when Australia play Sri Lanka in
Sri Lanka's initial match will be against India at the
same venue on February 5.
Each team will play eight ODIs. Each winning team will be
awarded five points and a Bonus Point for a
victory by a large margin.
teams with the highest points will play
against each other in the best of three
finals. The first final will be played on
March 2 in Sydney while the second final
will be played on March 4 at the Gabba
Stadium in Brisbane.
The third final will be played if necessary on Wednesday
March 7 in Adelaide. All matches except two
will be played under floodlights.
Australia has dominated the triangular series since its
inception, winning the Trophy 18 times
followed by the West Indies who have won on
six occasions, and England twice.
South Africa and Pakistan have won it once. The
Australians have emerged runners-up seven
Sri Lanka participated in this tournament just over a
India has participated in just four tournaments and were
runners-up on three occasions. Sri Lanka
came runners up in 1995/96 and 2005/06.
It was in 1995/96 just before the World Cup that Sri
Lanka revolutionised the one-day format
thanks to the duo, Sanath Jayasuriya and
Romesh Kaluvitharana who scored the maximum
number of runs within the first 15 overs
when field restrictions were on.
This was soon emulated by other cricketing nations as
Skipper Mahela Jayawardena feels Sri Lanka has the right
balance in the team.
The closest contest was in the 2005/06 when Sri Lanka
reached the final edging out South Africa.
This will be the last time Australia will be hosting this
Sri Lanka will definitely focus on winning the trophy.
The Sri Lankan squad of 15 players consists seven
batsmen, one spinner and seven seamers.
Sri Lankan Captain Mahela Jayawardena commenting on the
forthcoming tri nation series had said that
"after the set backs in the Test in
Sydney between the other two teams the third
game was played in a better spirit and
atmosphere and happy that we will be there
in that same atmosphere."
Champion Kandy SC will
not play in the first leg of the 7's
By Hafiz Marikar
Last year's champions of the Singer sponsored sevens,
Kandy Sports Club, will not play the first
leg of the competition to be played on
February 2 and3 in Nuwara-Eliya. They will
be available for the second one to be played
in Kandy in Mid February.
Kandy Sports Club, had a late start to its practice
sessions as its grounds were under
re-development. The club has decided to skip
the first sevens tournament due to a long
schedule till September.
The Kandy Sports Club will be led by Sri Lanka skipper
Pradeep Liyanage and will have some top
sevens players such as Faizal Marija, Pushka
Kumara, Radika Hettiarchchi, Sameera Silva,
Dushan Leweke, Imran Bastamin, Sanjeewa
Jayasinghe, D. Selvan, Eranda Weerakodi to
name a few.
CPRFU - AGM
The Annual General meeting of the Central Province Rugby
football Union (CPRFU) will take place today
at the Kandy Sports Club house in Nittawella,
where the CPRFU is housed.
The meeting will commence at 11.00 a.m., and Iswan 0mar
is tipped to elected as President for a
CPRFU is a large district spread over Kandy, Matale,
Gampola, Nawalapitiya, Nuwara Eliya,
Dambulla, Hangutanketha, Wasgamuwa etc.
Maurice Perera, he was instrumental in getting 54 schools
to take up rugby in the rural areas. Now
over 200 schools are involved in rugby
Iswan said that he wishes to emphasise on strategic
observation of the overall national interest
in the game, developement at grass root
levels, competent coaches at all levels,
introduction of the game in new area,
encourage all schools to participate in
Division tournaments, development of play
grounds to accommodate more rugby fixtures,
formation of new clubs and retaining the
clubs already in the game.
Negombo branch emerge
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka conducted its first ever
sports gala for members recently at the St.
Josephs College grounds Maradana. In a
keenly contested event, the Negombo branch
association emerged winners with 400 points.
Colombo with 200 points came second. Godfrey
Cooray of the Negombo branch excelled in
many sports to bag the overall best
Photo: Cooray with his award and the winning team posing
with the judges of the Negambo jurisdiction.