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Why whitewash wasn't a rout


Ajantha Mendis bamboozled the Zimbabweans with 15 wickets in the series

NO whitewash hides as much as Sri Lanka's five-zero in Zimbabwe. A whitewash at once suggests a consistent and complete dominance of one team over its opponents, as was the case when Sri Lanka cleaned-up England, 5/0, in the summer of 2006, the islanders' last all-to-nothing success prior to last week's.

Memories of the final ODI in England two years ago thrill the senses yet: The task before Jayewardene's team was 321 runs - a job they finished-off in the 38th over, so completing a whitewash in the true sense of the word.  That a performance of such authoritativeness should now have to share the same space with last week's 5/0 over Zimbabwe somehow seems a misdirection of the wheels of justice.

Universal expectation

But for the fact that both tours were whitewashes, dissimilarities abound. Of the recent tour, it has to be said, the universal expectation was Sri Lanka wouldn't lose a match; Zimbabwe being minnows apart, the country itself, economically and politically, was in a state of depression that apparently denied its cricketers the mental preparedness to undertake an international series. The empty stands fairly reflected the interest for cricket in a country coping with grievous times. Clearly, had the tour not materialized, old Rhodesia would not have been unduly disappointed.     

So, while the whitewash of the home team was expected , the point of interest was to what degree the Sri Lankans could establish their obvious superiority over the Zimbabweans, whose 2008 international exposures until then had been restricted to just two ODI series, in one of which they were thrashed 5/0 by Pakistan. The other was a triangular with associate members Kenya and Ireland; Zimbabwe was fortunate to share the rain-abandoned final with Kenya, given that they lost twice to the Kenyans in the league phase.

Devaluation

There were times over the past fortnight when the five-match ODI series did indeed resemble an associate-member encounter - and Sri Lanka has a lot to blame for that devaluation. Zimbabwe isn't a Test-playing nation, so that the trend of the competition, in terms of quality and class, ought to have been set by Sri Lanka. They didn't, and the series, thus, was consigned to wallow in the shallow end.

Statistics tell the story best. For a team that was expected to set the pace, the best Sri Lankans could manage was a total of 171/7 and just two half-centurions, Sangakkara and Mubarak. Only the victory margins of the first two encounters - by six and nine wickets respectively - were convincing, and gave a semblance of truth to the 'whitewash.'

The other three encounters were so close that a casual follower might have been compelled to take a second look at the name of the opposition to assure himself that it was Zimbabwe, and not some other Test country, that really caused Sri Lanka palpitations before falling over the line - winning by five runs, 2 wickets and 19 runs respectively in the final three games. The outcome of those three games could so easily have been different, which is another way of saying that the whitewash might well have ended 3/2 in favour of the minnows.

Two M,s struckthe blows

That Zimbabwe didn't, Sri Lanka has its twin spinners to thank for. It was only when the wiles of Mendis and Muralidaran were at work that Sri Lanka was able to establish the dominance expected of them. All but once, one of the two Ms struck the crucial blows when the home team threatened to take the game away from us; Kulasekera provided the exception in the final match when he broke the seventh-wicket stand that had taken Zimbabwe from 58/6 to 130, chasing 152. Otherwise it was the two Ms who always trumped the opposition batsmen, claiming 26 wickets between them, with Mendis' contribution of 15 being the best of the lot.

As for our quicker bowlers, it is fair to say that the Zimbabweans batsmen looked at them as their most profitable source for runs. Our five frontline medium pacemen (Fernando, Kulasekera, Maharoof, Thushara and Prasad) collectively claimed 18 wickets, conceding 370 runs, a quantum that's nearly 60 percent of the total runs conceded. That sort of percentage is to be expected being the total yield of five bowlers, but what was disappointing was that none quite commanded the respect you'd expect Test-class pacemen would from minnows; Fernando being the biggest disappointment. It was, so, excusable to wish for the presence of Vaas in Zimbabwe, if not for his pace, certainly to give sharpness of line and length into an attack that markedly lacked those virtues.

Admittedly, the Harare Sport Club pitch was not one for blasting batsmen out with pace. While that may provide a mitigating factor for the quick bowlers' lack of success, it is hardly a credible excuse for the abject failure of our batsmen. Sure it was slow and low and not the sort of pitch that give license to batsmen to express their attacking instincts. But then, these are not alien conditions to our batsmen. The pitches at the R Premadasa, Dambula and Galle aren't vastly different, but these stadiums might as well have had addresses in another land, the way our batsmen fumbled and floundered in getting to terms with the nature of the pitch down in old Salisbury.

Slow and low pitch

It is as if they went into each match not knowing what sort of new surface awaited them: All of the five matches were played on the same ground, which make the batsmen's failures all the more inexcusable. The first ODI gave ample evidence of a slow 'n low pitch; chasing a less than modest 127, Sri Lanka trundled along to win in the 34th over, scoring at 3.9 per over. Sangakkara's undefeated 46 from 95 balls with five fours - so un-Sangakkara like - provided the example to follow, but except Mubarak in the fourth ODI, no one took the cue.

Of all the failures, skipper Jayewardene's was the most mysterious. To think that some dark evil force in Africa possesses the skipper is forgivable. After all, in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, Jayewardene managed a beggarly 21 in eight matches; in Zimbabwe, the collection was no better: 19 in four innings, including two ducks. Witchcraft, though, is not the reason for his failure; the more plausible cause would be the controversy aroused over his preference to play in the IPL than a Test series in England, now abandoned. It is unfortunate that the issue has been oversimplified to be one of cash v. country, which consequently led some critics to question the IPL cricketers' sense of patriotism vis-…-vis soldiers fighting in the ongoing war. It all went way beyond the parameters of a cricketing debate and into the realms of politics.

At least seven, all key seniors, of the 13 IPL cricketers were on duty in Zimbabwe, and to say that the IPL controversy might have affected the team's overall performance might appear to be an offer of a lame excuse. But it is elementary psychology that minds cluttered with extraneous problems do not lead to a job well-done - more so if the problems are of accusations of being mercenary and unpatriotic.

Skipper Jayewardene, for obvious reasons, is not going to admit the IPL v. England issue and all the nasty criticism it threw up is the reason for the below-par performance in Zimbabwe. But given the minnow-opposition, not unfamiliar pitches to cope with and no lack of resolve- fighting back when things got graver - it's not difficult to conclude that the IPL controversy might've led to our sub-standard showing. That they yet succeeded despite burdened by the mental baggage was because of the inadequacies of the opposition - which might not be case later this month in Bangladesh. IPL season 2 is confirmed and so, a closed-file - and let it stay closed. Re-opening it will be a traitorous thing to do. 


Phenomenal increase in Municipal Lease Tax from January 2006

Park clubs in shock

By Lal Gunasekera

A phenomenal increase in the Municipal Lease Tax with retrospective effect from January 2006 by the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has put two of the three clubs housed at Havelock Park in to a state of shock.

Havelock Sports Club (established in 1915) has seen their monthly rates increased from Rs. 9000/- to Rs. 63.000/-. This means that Havelocks, a leading rugby-playing club, have to pay Rs. 756,000/- a year from Rs. 108,000/- which they were paying the CMC earlier.

President of Havelocks Sports Club, Priyantha Grero, told The Sunday Leader that it was only when they went to the CMC to make payment, that they (The Havies) were told about the increased rates.

"We got the letter from the Municipal Treasurer regarding the new rates only on Tuesday. We cannot afford to pay this increased amount. It's just absurd. We may even have to seriously consider about our rugby activities. We find it difficult to survive, and with the increased Municipal Tax, how can any club go on," said Grero.

The Colombo Colts Cricket Club, which has been established in 1873, was paying Rs. 12,000/- per month (Rs. 144,000 a year) as Municipal Taxes earlier. Now, the CMC has clamped a sum of Rs. 90,000/- a month (Rs. 1,080,000/- a year), which is another phenomenal increase.

"We have paid upto March 2008, and now, we have to pay a further sum of Rs. 3 million, as the increased taxes are in retrospective effect from January 2006. We received the letter from the Municipal authorities about three weeks back," said the Secretary of Colts CC, Susilough De S. Wijeratne.

He further said that the income at Colts is "minimal," hardly anything from in house sales and that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) subsidises (Colts) to a great extent. Wijeratne also said that the Supreme Court ruling on noise pollution after 10 p.m. also affects the club not having social activities.

A spokesman for the BRC, told The Sunday Leader that they have "not been told anything about the increased Municipal Taxes officially," but was certain that saner counsel will prevail in the end.

He said that the BRC was not a profit-making establishment, and that they are concerned about the development of sporting activities, assisting neighbouring schools etc. BRC also have persons from all strata of life utilizing the grounds in the morning and evening for their daily exercises too. He further said: It's a social service that we are doing to the people.

The Sunday Leader failed in many attempts to get in touch with either the Municipal Treasurer or one of his deputies to obtain their comments on the phenomenal increase in the ground lease tax.

Meanwhile the Park Clubs are to meet on Tuesday, and discuss the increase slapped on them by the Colombo Municipal authorities in order to make a joint petition.


Global crisis ends Honda F1 era

Honda is pulling out of Formula One, blaming the world economic crisis for plans to sell its team.

The decision leaves Englishman Jenson Button and 2009 team-mate Rubens Barrichello without drives, with only a few mid-ranking seats still available.

Honda, which spent more than ś300m a year on F1, said it would also no longer supply the sport with engines.

The team say they are optimistic they will find a buyer who will enable them to continue in the sport.

Chief executive Nick Fry said he has had three approaches already.

But a deadline of January has been set to find an investor and workers at Honda's Brackley base have been told to expect redundancy letters before Christmas.

"Honda Motor Co. has come to the conclusion that we will withdraw from all Formula One activities, making 2008 the last season for participation," said Honda president Takeo Fukui at an emotional press conference.

"This difficult decision has been made in light of the quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry... and the sudden contraction of the world economies," he added.

"Honda must protect its core business activities and secure the long term as widespread uncertainties in the economics around the globe continue to mount."

According to the Reuters news agency, team bosses Ross Brawn and Nick Fry told a meeting of the Formula One Teams' Association they had a month to find a buyer, otherwise Honda will be closing the team.


Cricket - Premier League - Tier 'A'

CCC in strong position

Two magnificent centuries from opener Michael van Dort and Jehan Mubarak put CCC in a commanding position on the second day of their SLC Premier League Tier A tournament match against Baduraliya CC continued at Maitland Crescent yesterday.

 Van Dort hoisted two sixes and struck fourteen boundaries while Mubarak stroked seven boundaries with the pair putting on 173 runs for the second wicket. In addition Bathiya Perera raced to an unbeaten half century from just 30 deliveries as CCC reached an impressive 343 for 2 in their first innings.

Scores: Baduraliya CC: 244 CCC: 343 for 2 (M. van Dort 138, J. Mubrak 100 n.o, D. K. Ranaweera 47, B. Perera 51 n.o)

Chamara Silva - a timely century

Stylish middle order batsman Chamara Silva hammered a splendid 106 with a dozen of boundaries to give Bloomfield a close 24 runs first innings lead over their arch rivals and the defending champions SSC on the second day of their SLC Premier League Tier A tournament match continued at Maitland Place yesterday.

 Scores: SSC: 233 and 0 for no lossBloomfield: 257 (C. Silva 106, T. Lakshitha 29, Y. de Silva 25, S. Mohamed 21, N. Zoysa 3 for 57, S. Senanayake 5 for 84, T. Thushara 2 for 27)

Tamils scent outright win

Opener Sajith Fernando struck an elegant century inclusive of fourteen boundaries to give Tamil Union a crucial 46 runs first innings lead over Sri Lanka Army SC on the second day of their SLC Premier League Tier A tournament match continued at Panagoda yesterday.

Scores: Army SC: 179 and 166 for 6 (M. de Soysa 67, S. Prasanna 41, A. Prasad 30, S. Lakmal 2 for 27)

Tamil Union: 225 (S. Fernando 113, M. Pushpakumara 30, D. Balasuriya 2 for 57, A. Mendis 2 for 20, S. Prasanna 3 for 22)

Malintha guides Colts

Skipper Malintha Warnapura hammered an unbeaten 133 inclusive of one six and eleven boundaries to put Colts CC in a strong position on the second day of their SLC Premier League Tier A tournament match against the table leaders Chilaw Marians SC continued at Havelock Park yesterday.

Scores: Chilaw Marians SC: 253 (G. Wijekoon 111, C. Vaas 4 for 35, D. Perera 3 for 62)

Colts CC: 273 for 5 (I. Muthalip 65, M. Warnapura 133 n.o, J. Kulatunge 33, M. Gunatilleke 2 for 37)

 NCC in sight of a resounding win

Opener Kanchana Gunawardena hammered a splendid 137 to help NCC build up a huge first innings lead of 251 runs and take a firm grip over Moors SC on the second day of their SLC Premier League Tier A tournament match continued at Maitland Place yesterday.

 Scores: Moors SC: 36 and 133 for 6 (P. Perera 32, D. Sudarshana 28, H. Fernando 26, W. Fernando 22, T. Kottahewa 2 for 16, C. Komasaru 2 for 22)

NCC: 287 for 9 decl (K. Gunawardena 137, C. Wijesinghe 45, R. Herath 4 for 51, N. Ranjith 2 for 36, C. Welagedera 2 for 24)


Pietersen praises collective move

England captain Kevin Pietersen insists he did not have to persuade any of his Test squad to fly back to India following the Mumbai terror attack.

Before boarding a flight to England's holding camp in Abu Dhabi, he added that if necessary there would be a collective decision to come home.

The first of two Tests is scheduled to take place in Chennai from  December 11.

"It's fantastic the guys want to go and rub shoulders together with India at a time of need," said Pietersen.

"It's a huge stance by this England team to jump on the plane and go and do the business."


Prima Bread to sponsor Sri Lanka Junior Open Golf Championship 2008

Prima Bread is proud to be the sole sponsor of the Sri Lanka Junior Open Golf Championship scheduled to be held at the Royal Colombo Golf Club on December 17, 18 and 19 . This prestigious tournament which is open to both boys and girls under the age of 18 years has been a platform where the Sri Lanka Golf Union has identified potential talent to play at national level. Past champions of this tournament include the likes of Mithun Perera, Thushashni Selvaratnam, Binupa Wijesinghe, Lalith Kumar and Tissa Chandradasa.

Over 50 juniors are expected to participate in the tournament which will be conducted along the following age groups: age group 15-17 years (Gold division), age group 11-14 years (Silver division) and age group 10 years and under (Bronze division). The overall winner will be declared the Sri Lanka Junior National Golf Champion for the year 2008.

Golf is a unique game, which relies largely on the integrity of the individual skill and helps to cultivate sportsmanship. Although predominantly started as a social game, it is instrumental in building character, as etiquette is an indispensable part of golf.

Prima Bread has signed up with RCGC to sponsor the Junior Golf Tournament this year, and plan to continue this sponsorship in the future to motivate youth and uplift Junior Golf in Sri Lanka. Prima has a unique range of breads, varying from Milk Bread, Whole Meal Bread, Enriched Premium and White Sandwich Bread and Crust Top Bread that is an ideal choice for all occasions as it is packed with nutrients and minerals.


Bradby on 30th May and 13th June 2009

By Hafiz Marikar

The Trinitians' are sure to be a threat, in the 2009 inter school rugby season. The Lions will be fielding an experienced outfit, which squad has in its rank two lionsmen. 

Once again, experienced   Anil Jayasinghe will be the head coach with Pradeep Basnayake as the Assistant Coach. Last season these two did a fantastic job and are hoping to continue from where they stopped.

All the good things that happened last season, was due to the talent, experience and the hard work put in by each an every member of the squad. This was a heartening feature of Trinity rugby during the last season.

In the coming season, they are packed with no less than nine senior players, namely,  Wisvajith Wijesinghe, Adeeb Hameed, Armstrong brothers Shenan and Kennon, Lasantha Samarasekara, Idris Omar, Damith Dissanaayke and Surendra Alwis. The two most senior players are Wishvajith and Adeeb, with Wishvajith tipped to lead the side. 

The squad started off with weight training last month and now are on ground training (Unopposed) under the watchful eyes of  Anil and Pradeep.  The under 18 side will be coached by one of the most experienced coaches in the country Alex Lazarus, who has coached all rugby teams at Trinity with success.

Acting Principal Brig. Udaya Aryaratne a hockey player during his school days at Trinity,  is  sure to give his best possible backing to keep the sporting flag flying at Trintiy.,

The Lions will be kicking off next season (2009) with the Schools Sevens tournament on 21st and 22nd of March and on 11th April will play the traditional game against the Old Boys.

The Fixtures are as follows:

18th April         vs         Vidyartha College

25th April         vs         St.Josephs

02nd May         vs         S. Thomas' College

09th May          vs         St. Peters College

16th May          vs         Mahanama College

23rd May          vs         Isipathana

30th May          vs         Royal Bradby 1st leg in Kandy

06th June         vs         Kingswood

13th June         vs         Royal Bradby 2nd leg in Colombo

Presidents Trophy schedule:

21st and 22nd June Quarter finals;

28th June Semi finals;

04th July Finals


Under 14 cricket for Nelson Mendis Trophy

By Lal Gunesekera

"We are tapping the uncut diamonds in the rural areas and encourage outstation cricketers to join in our tournaments in future too" said Nelson Mendis, the well known and reputed cricket coach, who heads the CCC School of Cricket, who are conducting the fifth under 14 international Invitation Limited over Tournament for the Nelson Mendis Challenge Trophy from December 8 to 19.

This is sponsored by Sierra Global Network(P)  Limited who have thrown in Rs. 1 million for the event. The co- sponsors include Ceylon Cold Stores, Singer (Sri Lanka) Limited, Premier One Water Systems (Pvt) Limited, Sunathi Sports, Bandara and Sons Sports Company, Causeway Paints Lanka Limited, Pacific Container Liones (Pvt) Limited and Gamik Sports to name a few.

"Outstation teams from Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Panadura, Chilaw, Wattala, Ambalangoda, Matale and Kantale will be vying for honours this year too, while there ar four teams from India (Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and New Delhi) and also a side each from the Maldives and Malaysia too. Last year's champions, Customs Cricket Academy from Paksitan, withdrew" said Mendis.


Highlights of the week gone by...

All Blacks complete grand slam

A 33 - 06 crushing of England at Twickenham enabled the New Zealand All Blacks to complete a rare grand slam. Led by the inspirational Richie McCaw, the worlds top ranked team achieved this feat despite an exodus of a host of star players earlier on in the season to lucrative domestic competitions outside the country.

Tide turns - Cricket heads to meet in Colombo

Following the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the sub continent cricket bosses have agreed to travel to Sri Lanka for an emergency meeting. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), which took the Indian superpower head on in dealing with the IPL Twenty20 issue surprisingly has become a neutral venue in the light of the developments in India and Pakistan.

The Ex - Co of SLRFU unconstitutional    

The latest controversy to hit the beleaguered Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) is on the unconstitutionality in the composition of the Executive Council of the Union. A belated letter fired by former national stalwart Lasitha Gunaratne alleges that three sitting members of the Ex - Co cannot hold office due to a technicality. The Minister has referred the matter to a select committee. 

Basnahira and Kandurata in final

Western Province 'Titans' and Kandurata 'Balakaya' qualified to meet in the final of the inaugural U -20 Sirasa Twenty20 inter district cricket tournament.   

5 - 0 whitewash for Sri Lanka

Three close finishes followed two convincing wins. Nevertheless as expected Sri Lanka maintained a clean sheet to pocket the Dialog ODI series against the lowly ranked Zimbabwe. Ajantha Mendis, who now has 48 wickets from 17 ODI's was named Man of the Series.

Kiwis trounced by the Kangaroos 

Ricky Ponting's Australians bounced back strongly from their test series defeat at the hands of India, to outplay New Zealand in a two test series at home. The defeat placed the Black caps just above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the latest test rankings.

Armstrong on comeback trail  

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is making a comeback to competitive racing at the age of 37. Renowned for his successful battle against cancer the champion cyclist is expected to feature at Tour de France 2009.


A series of seasonal events at OTSC

By Hafiz Marikar

The Old Trinitians' Sports Club, will kick off its seasonal projects with a Xmas day outing for the inmates at 'Daya Nivasa' a home for the destitute, physically challenged and orphaned kids at Peradeniya. This charitable cause will take place on Sunday 14th December 2008 at 10 am at the OTSC, Premises, Asgiriya.

The event will go on till about 2:30 in the afternoon where the membership is due to bring the kids in the Trinity bus and give them a day outing of games, pony rides, magic show etc. Also distributed will be gifts, with a Santa Clause in house.

 There will be participation of four religious leaders, VIPs, Trinity Staff, Dignitaries, Old Boys, and members, family, children & friends of OTSC members.

The Club Night with a musical extravaganza will be held on the 13th Saturday from 7pm-11pm at the OTSC Club Premises.  A well-known band

'Odyssey' will be entertaining the participants.


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