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World Affairs



This is Paradise






Mahela's departure: Hasty but canny 

Mahela Jayawardena

DESERVEDLY,Mahela Jayawardene's decision last week to relinquish the Sri Lanka cricket captaincy brought forth quite some glowing appreciations. It takes extraordinary humility and honesty to choose to give up what, after all, is the most sought-after job going in our world of sport , and melt into the ranks of the other ten. So, you can't help but admire the man's selflessness.

The abdication, to say the least, was premature; just three months away from turning a prime 32, he had barely been three years in the job. As well, he gave no inkling that he might throw in the towel. Of course, he had his share of problems, which were no more, or less, serious than captains of other countries have had to endure sometime in their careers.

Jayawardene admits he wants to be relieved of captaincy burdens so as to set his mind on rediscovering his deserted batting form. Of late, to be sure, his form has been remotely adrift of that expected of batsman as immensely gifted as he. He has but a solitary half century in his last 17 ODI innings, a yield that you'd expect of nos.6 and 7 batsmen, but unacceptable from a no.4, and the leader at that.

Not a new phenomenon

But then it is not as if failure is a new phenomenon in Jayawardene's 11-year international career. His 2003 World Cup form was another of those exasperating experiences, totaling some 20-odd runs in eight WC matches, and earned him, in fact, exclusion at least once. He has had lean periods at other times too - followed of course by recoveries, the old, familiar, up-and-down story of batting, really.

If the disengagement from captaincy will help rediscover his lost fluency, as Jayawardene thinks it will, then one can only wish he is proved right. But, as he knows by experience, even batsmen free of leadership encumbrances, as sure as the ball is round, periodically, live through lean times. The point to make here: the link between resignation from captaincy and poor batting form is a tenuous one. In other words, the burdens of captaincy can't be the only reason why Jayawardene walked away from the job.

Routed by India

It isn't accidental either that he leaves in the immediate aftermath of his team's 1/4 defeat at the hands of India. The defeat was hurting, but it has to be said, the form book suggested India's success was to be half-expected, though not many guessed the margin would be this wide. By any definition it was a rout, with the series settled in the opening three games.

The rout coming as it did after frequent brushes with defeat in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, as well as the relentless hounding by some of his critics, no doubt forced Jayawardene into introspection. And, as he told the world last week, that, in his and the team's interest, it's best the reins of leadership be handed to another. So, after the ongoing two-Test series in Pakistan is over he is stepping down so that the team might benefit from the fresher ideas of the new leader - while he works on becoming a "better cricketer''.

All of which, I might add, is pretty much what any captain in Jayewardene's situation would say. You don't expect a departing leader to vent his spleen in public. So, what might be the unspoken reasons why he threw it in?

Loss of confidence springs easily to mind, though, given his outstanding record as captain that ought not to have unduly disturbed Jayawardene. After all, 15 Test wins in 26 matches is by far the best any captain has managed in our over quarter- century history of Test cricket. Admittedly, consistency hadn't been a virtue of his ODI side, but yet a 56 percentage of wins is not something many international captains can boast of, not to speak of the success of leading a team to the World Cup final. The ICC, no less, acknowledged that he was the world's best 2007 cricket captain.

But Jayawardene, as an inhabitant of a world infected by short memory, probably based his judgement on the stark realities of the present than on past's glories. That is, he viewed his future plans within the bounds of the last 12-18 months, which weren't exactly exceptional. Two ODI series at home were lost and the series against minnows Zimbabwe and Bangladesh were won by only a whisker - before crashing in a heap to the Indians recently. If that didn't cause self-doubts about his ability to lead,  then the selectors' decision to "rest'' him for the Twenty20 against India probably helped him make up his mind to quit.

Reasons for quiting

"I think he believed he had taxed the patience of the selectors a tad too long and felt that it wouldn't be long before the axe falls on him. Rather than let that happen, he decide to go by himself,'' said Sidat Wettimuny, a retired Test cricketer, "and for that, my admiration of him is even greater.''

Then the stories of his uneasy relationship with the likes of Jayasuriya and Vaas, if true, might surely have made the abdication even easier. Jayewardene admits that as captain he had a role to play in building for the future, which meant grooming youngsters who might fill the boots of the ageing veterans. Jayasuriya and Vaas, in fact, at different times were sidelined as emerging players were experimented with. The seasoned duo had publicly declared their intention to be a part of the 2011 World Cup campaign and thus was, obviously, displeased at being treated like dispensable commodity. And so, team spirit might have been soured, an irritant that will discomfort even a captain on-a-roll, let alone one in the throes of sorting out his own difficulties.

The third unsaid reason, I suspect, is that a continuation of Jayawardene's leadership would've meant a receding of the prospects of deputy Sangakkara getting the job: They are both 31 years, an exactness of age that doesn't allow for an automatic and safe leadership transfer from captain to his deputy. It's not like 30-year Jayasuriya replacing 36-year Ranatunga. So, a transition involving two of identical age has to be manufactured. It is common knowledge; the two are close friends, bound by similar views and values. So, if Jayewardene's abdication had been inspired by his concern for the future of his trusted deputy and pal, then, the timing could not have been better. At this point in time, the obvious heir apparent is Sangakkara; at a later date, it might be less certain.

Be that as it may, Jayawardene's resignation will only go to enhance his personal reputation. He stepped down without neither a hint of rancour nor a murmur of blame on another. You could probably fault him for not staying around until the 2011 World Cup. After all, the experience accruing from leading the team to the final of the last WC would've been of immense help. But it is a comforting fact that he will be around as a player - and you can be sure he'll give his all to his friend, in words and deeds. He's that sort of a fellow.

Late Harry Goonatilleke forgotten by SLRRA 

By Lal Gunasekara

The Sri Lanka Rugby Referees Association (SLRRA) who held their annual general meeting a few weeks back and felicitated some former Presidents, seemed to have forgotten the late Air Marshal Harry Goonatilleke and the yeoman services he rendered to the SLRRA. He should have been the first person to have been felicitated posthumously.

The late Goonatilleke was a former commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), which is now headed by his son, Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonatilleke.

Harry, was a respected referee, despite his busy schedule, and even coached Air Force. He was the President of the Referees Society in the 1970's and held regular seminars to update the members and used his influence with the RAF in England and IRB too. He was responsible in getting down top referees in the caliber of Air Commodore Larry Lams and Major Chris Taylor for seminars.

He maintained discipline at all times and never gave in to club politics like at present, and was respected by players, spectators and club officials. It was during this period that C.H. Seneviratne came into the limelight. He was a member of the London Referees Society and even "blew" at the Middlesex 7's and Edinburgh 7's and also at the Hong Kong 7's.

Some of the top referees and contemporaries of the late Air Marshal Goonatilleke were John Banks, Malcolm Wright, Brian Mills, Ashey Cader, Darley Inglton, Berty Dias, general Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Colonel C.S. Fernando, Perera, Miles christofoelsz, Bentley Barsenbach to name a few that come to my mind. Remember them?.

IC of SLBA slow on inquiry

By Lal Gunasekara 

The Interim Committee of the Sri Lanka Badminton Association (SLBA) appointed in March last year (2008) submitted a report to the Ministry of Sports and Public Recreation, in December alleging various irregularities by the dissolved Areanda Weerasinghe led administration

The Ministry of Sports in turn wrote to the Interim Committee to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of financial mismanagement etc. by the previous elected governing body. However, to-date the Interim Committee has not held an inquiry into these allegations and the Chairman of the IC, Professor Ranjith De Silva, told The Sunday Leader that an independent inquiry panel will be appointed "soon" and that he had spoken to a "few persons" to from this panel- He said I have to get Ministry approval for this inquiry panel. Why is Professor De Silva back peddling in this matter?

He further told The Sunday Leader that he (Professor De Silva) together with there other former Presidents of the SLBA (Dr. A.R.L Wijesekara, Sam Chandrasena and Sumith Guruge) will be meeting one of the main "settlers" of the Sri Lanka Badminton Foundation (SLBF) S.K.Wikramasinghe over the weekend to have a discussion and to review the set of Trustees of the SLBA, comprising General (rtd) Dennis Perera (Chairman) Eraj Wijesinghe, Razick Zarook, K. Rajamahendran, Senarath Kapukotuwa, Awa Punchihewa, Ajith Wijeyesinghe (executive Secretary) and T.P Jayatunga (Executive Treasurer).

These were the last names we heard of said professor De Silva

Meanwhile two members of the Interim Committee Niroshan Wijekoon and Priyantha Wijesekara appointed by Minister Lokuge have resigned, Jayantha Kudahetty and Sports Ministry Representative P.Haturusinghe (Observer) has been appointed to the IC "prior to the two resignations". Professor De Silva told The Sunday Leader that the IC will discuss this issue at their next Meeting.

More skeletons in Dilroy's cupboard 

By Lal Gunesekera 

Close on the heels of the Dilroy Fernando exposure in The Sunday Leader of February 15, another of his adventures has come to light. This time, its regarding the participation of the Sri Lanka "Development Team' for the Dubai International Club Rugby 7's last year (2008).

The team consisted of 12 players in Dushantha Lewke, Wasim Thajudeen, Dinusha Chaturanga, Lasintha De Costa, Ashen De Costa, Poornaka Delpachithra, Sajith Saranaga, Danushka Perera, Kasun De Silva, Chula Susantha, Suranga Pushpakumara and Tuan Shamrock. The four officials were David Snyman (coach), Norman Laker (Physio), Roshan Deen (Manager) and Nishantha Chanaka (Assistant Manager).

"Some of the 12 players do not even fit into their respective club 7's sides. The correct criteria was to have sent an Under - 23 side" said a former top national player and selector.

Try reading these names of club teams that took part in Dubai - sporting Chance Foundation, Marauders, Stefan's Adidas BHF, Kooge Wailers, RC Yug, Froggies Club, Christina Noble, Ronia Impact, Steelers Rugby, South Sea Drifters and Mackenzie James.

The Sunday Leader discovered that at the November Council meeting of the SLRFU the expenses for the tour of Dubai was discussed with former Deputy President Asanga Seneviratne. Making inquiries regarding the expenses, he (Seneviratne) has said: As it's a development side, we do not have to spend, and we don't have the money to do so.

However, Dilroy Fernando, the then Executive Director of the SLRFU, had misled the Council stating that he (Fernando) has arranged for Roger Rodrigo of Hepco 3B from Dubai, who will handle the meals, accomadation and internal travel and Sri Lankan Airlines will sponsor the tickets at the rate of 50 per cent and that the SLRFU has to pay the visa fees, and that there will not be any more expenses.

The Sunday Leader investigation found that Fernando had suppressed the correct facts from the Council and did not disclose that the visa fees was a whopping Rs. 370,000/- and also suppressed the fact that a team member will have to be paid US$ 200 each as an allowance amounting to Rs. 267,000/=. This allowance is normally given to players in the national side.

Fernando had also suppressed the fact that DIG Lewke's air ticket bought surprisingly from World Link Travels (Not classic travels as usual) cost Rs. 62,000/=, visa fee Rs. 6,900/ and allowance of US$ 300, which is equalent to Rs. 33,390/=.

This goes to prove what type of a "Honest" official this IRB International Referee, IRB Development Officer for Referees in Asia, who is presently CR & FC's Director of Sports is.

He used to draw Rs 1.9 million a year officially from the SLRFU which was run on Bank overdrafts. The Salary was Rs. 90,000/= per month, plus Rs. 35,000/= as an "Allowance", Rs. 20,000/= for fuel and another Rs. 5,000/= for his mobile phone. What extravagance by a cash strapped SLRFU!!

Fernando has also contravened the Emmigration and Immigration laws of this country by having a player (Danushka Perera) boarding an aircraft even prior to an entry visa has been processed by Dubai. By this act, he even misled Sri Lankan Airlines.

Fernando has admitted to Dubai Exiles that they (SLRFU) has taken a risk in sending the player to Dubai and hope that Dubai will process his (Danushka Perera) visa without getting stranded at the airport. This confirms the questionable character of Fernando.

Triple Room!!

The Sunday Leader also learns that the former President of the SLRFU, DIG Nimal Lewke, enjoyed the comfort of a triple room (June 10 to 14, 2008) when he visited Bangkok, Thailand for an ARFU Council Meeting, while only a single room (June 12 to 14, 2008) was requested for Dilroy Fernando from the Thailand RFU on May 26, 2008.

Old jersies

The Chief Organiser of the Kandy 7's on February 7 and 8 on Behalf of Kandy SC, Iswan Omar, was given Rs. 10,000/= by the JLRFU Interim Committee to purchase a new set of jersies for the "Ball Pickers" at Nittawela Stadium, but it was evident that the jersies they wore were last year's, a fact seen from available photographs .

Money had also been given for a tent for the recorders table. At the end of the first day (Ferbruary 7) The supplier of the tent arrived to remove it for a wedding reception, as the tent had been paid only for the first day. However, saner counsel prevailed with the SLRFU officials present resisting the move.

"Marketing" in Kandy

Who was the top official of Petersons who was seen "fishing" for players in the kandy market to represent them at the Kandy 7's? This was even after the Interim Committee had given the club Rs. 20,000/= for the team's travel expenses to Kandy.

Ananda cruise to 12th win 

Ananda College, cruised to their 12th outright win of the season when they trounced St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa by 10 wickets in their inter-school cricket match which ended at Moratuwa last afternoon.

Scores: Ananda 276 & 28 for no loss (Dinesh Chandimal 14 n.o, Prabodha Seneviratne 14 n.o) St. Sebastian's 117/4 wkts cont, 166 all out (Gayan Paul 30, Sachitha Perera 5/61, Matheesha Perera 3/42) & 136 all out (Deshanm Dias 65, Ramesh Fernando 26, Matheesha Perera 6/49, Sachitha Perera 3/44)


Match bag of 8 wickets 

Off-spinner Dinuk Jayasinghe claimed a match bag of (8 for 96) for Nalanda as their inter-school cricket match against Wesley College, ended in a tame draw at Campbell Park last evening.

Scores: Wesley 251/9 wkts dec & 103/6 wkts at close (Pasan Samarasekera 20, Shanuka Jeewantha 20 no, Dinuk Jayasinghe 3/29, Nipun Karunanayake 3/14) Nalanda 101/3 wkts cont, 302 all out (Prashan Wickremasinghe 55, Adeesha Nanayakkara 29, Nipun Karunanayake 70, Sineth Gunawardene 61, Dinuk Jayasinghe 20, ashen fonseka 4/38)


Vithanage passes 1,000 runs

Leading run-getter Kithruwan Vithanage passed 1000 runs for the season, while stroking a superb unbeaten 101 for Royal College, but they failed to press for an outright win as Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, hung on grimply to force a draw, in their inter-school match ended at Reid Avenue yesterday.

Scores: Royal 218 & 207/1 wkt dec (Kithruwan Vithanage 101 n.o, Kusal Perera 72 n.o.) POW 135/9 wkts cont, 178 all out (Dilan Chandima 39, M Hazeem 39, T Rajaratna 5/42) & 175/8 wkts at close (I Thilina 65, B Alwis 29 n.o, T Rajaratna 3/27, Maneesha Thanthirigoda 4/37)


Another draw 

The inter-school cricket encounter between S. Thomas' College, M. T. Lavinia and Trinity College, Kandy also ended in a tame draw at Mount Lavinia last evening.

Scores: Trinity 244 & 92/4 wkts dec (D Ranasinghe 48, C Pathirana 3/29) S. Thomas' 64/3wkts cont, 158 all out (F Saleem 53, Lalindra Peiris 31, Dinesh Walpita 20, S Wickrema 5/41, C Gokula 2/12) & 38 for no loss at close (F Saleem 17 no, A Fernando 18 no)


Petes sitting pretty 

St. Peter's College, were sitting pretty to effect an outright win by stumps on day one of their inter-school cricket match against Revata MV, Balapitiya begun at Bambalapitiya, yesterday.

Scores: St. Peter's 375/5 wkts dec (Andre Berenger 64, Denham Perera 65, S Ranasuriya 65, Chathura Peiris 42 no., Vinodh Perera 52 no, Angelo Emmanuel 38, Angelo Perera 25, N de Silva 2/78) Revata MV 74 all out (Y Nayanajith 20, Vinodh Perera 3/28, Angelo Perera 4/19) & 18 for no wicket at close

SACK 166 & 151/8 wkts at close (M Perera 73 no, C Kumara 3/10, Sameera Weerasinghe 4/57) St. Joseph's 107/6 wkts cont, 282 all out (Sameera Weerasinghe 118 no, C Kumara 54, R Withanarachchi 28, S Palihakkara 5/81, K Ekanayake 3/92) 

Inter Provincial Cricket 

Kandurata by 10-wickets 

Kandurata romped to a 10-wicket outright win over Basnahira South, with a day to spare in their Inter-Provincial cricket match ended at Dambulla International Cricket Stadium, yesterday.

Scores: Kandurata 370 all out (Nadeera Nawala 104, Kaushalya Weeraratne 90, Sajith Fernando 72, Malinga Bandara 4/61) Basnahira South 123 all out (R Rupasinghe 55, Sekkuge Prasanna 3/29) & 267 all out (R Rupasinghe 54, H Thirimanne 45, Chaminda Vidanapathirana 3/54) Kandurata 21 for no loss


Basnahira North in box seat 

Basnahira North were in the box seat with an overall lead of 424 runs with five second innings wickets in hand by stumps on day three of their Inter-Provincial cricket match against Ruhuna continued at SSC grounds, Maitland Place yesterday.

Scores: Basnahira North 303 all out (Angelo Mathews 72, L Perera 58, S de Silva 3/62, Tharanga Lakshitha 3/76) & 342/5 wkts at close (Kaushal Silva 111 no, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara 103 no, Sajeewa Weerakoon 2/79) Ruhuna 221 all out (S Priyanjan 99, Anil Rideegammanagedera 56, I Daniel 3/1, T Dharshanpriya 3/45)

Windies secure the great escape 

West Indies' last pair of Fidel Edwards and Daren Powell blocked out the final 36 minutes of a magnificent Test match at the Antigua Recreation Ground, to secure the draw that maintained their 1-0 lead in the series, and revived the momentum that had been squandered in a troubled week both on and off the field. Chasing a nominal target of 503, West Indies battened down the hatches and clung on to the close on 370 for 9, with the light fading fast and 10 men piled around the bat as England's spinner, Graeme Swann, teased and probed for an opening that simply refused to materialise.

For Edwards, it was a familiar situation, as he welcomed the ARG back onto the Test rota just as he had seen it off against India three years ago, but for England it was a shattering result - a draw that undoubtedly felt like a defeat, especially after the dominance they had enjoyed on the first two days. Questions will be asked about the timing of England's second-innings declaration - did they dally too long on the fourth afternoon? - but there could be no legislating for a West Indian team performance that was the very epitome of regional pride, coming as it did on a day when the Caribbean was plunged into a Stanford-induced economic gloom.

England's bowlers poured heart and soul into their performance, not least the unconscionably heroic Andrew Flintoff, who limped and grimaced through 12 overs in the day - five in the second session, six more in the third, and then, astoundingly, one final roll of the dice as the sun began to disappear, by which stage every one of his deliveries seemed as though it might be his final act of the tour. On a day when two men, Amjad Khan and Ravi Bopara, were called up to replace him, there seemed no question that he will be flying home for treatment as soon as the results of his scan in Barbados are revealed.

Flintoff bowled like a hero, but the day's conquering partnership was forged by two West Indian veterans. Famously, both Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul recorded centuries on this ground in 2003 to help their side chase down a world-record 418 for 7 against Australia, and that indomitable mindset was fully in evidence again. According to overnight newspaper reports, both men are believed to have lost their million-dollar prizemoney from November's 20/20 for 20 after reinvesting with Allen Stanford, but they did not dwell on their misfortunes, as they made like Kipling's gamblers, and set about rebuilding from scratch.

After a rain delay of an hour and 15 minutes, the pair batted through the first 36 overs of the day to give their team a huge confidence boost. Sarwan, who finished with a superb 106, was the more forceful of the pair, and by adopting a positive attitude, even in defence, he was able to withstand everything that England could muster. After resuming on 47 not out, he was compact and controlled at the crease, and determined not to give his innings away, as he had done with a wild slog on 94 in the first innings. Sure enough, he ground through the nineties, resisting temptation, until James Anderson, armed with the new ball, offered him enough width outside off stump to nudge the delivery through the gap at third man and cue the celebrations.

Chanderpaul, meanwhile, dropped anchor as only he can. He added just 22 runs in the morning session, and was even more frugal with his strokeplay after lunch, when he dug in on 42 not out for 34 consecutive deliveries. With the pitch offering little, England's bowlers plugged away responsibly on a good line and length, not least Steve Harmison, who seemed fully recovered from the bout of sickness that had marred his performance in the first innings. Eventually Swann offered a leg-stump full-toss that Chanderpaul whisked gratefully through square leg to reach his first fifty of the series.

But for all their diligence, the real challenge for West Indies' overnight pairing was to survive the new ball, which became available midway through the second session. They were unable to do so. Broad, who has grown in stature (and arguably pace) on this tour, burst through Sarwan's defences with a brilliant fast straight delivery that kept just low enough to demolish the off stump, and then, after Chanderpaul had flapped a bouncer just wide of a diving Harmison at square leg, he came around the wicket and banged a perfect lifter off the edge and into Matt Prior's gloves.

That looked like being the crucial breakthrough. Though Brendan Nash is building a hearty reputation as a new-model Chanderpaul, he has not as yet got the same presence at the crease, and England sensed that they were very much in the ascendancy. Broad dumped Nash on his backside with a wickedly accurate bouncer, before Swann - whose willingness to vary his pace and flight made him a constant threat even on an unresponsive deck - pinned him lbw for 23 with a beauty that went straight on and rapped the front pad plumb in front of middle.

Flintoff by this stage was two overs into a spell that demonstrated England's desperation to get back to winning ways. They had not, after all, won an international of any description since September, and though his hip was giving him such gyp that he spent the break between deliveries down on his haunches, it was clear that he was not prepared to catch a flight back to Blighty without at least contributing to the series-leveller. Alternating between bouncers and yorkers, with a heavy splice-rattling stock ball to keep the batsmen honest, he had a vast shout for lbw against Denesh Ramdin on 9, but there was to be no way through.

Not for Flintoff at any rate. The very over after he had left the field, Anderson popped up with the partnership breaker as Jerome Taylor flicked airily at a leg-stump delivery for Bell to snaffle the opportunity at short midwicket. And Anderson struck again three overs later, when Ramdin, after gritting his teeth for 76 steadfast deliveries, produced the first genuine misjudgment of his innings and chopped a short but straight ball onto his stumps for 21.

By this stage the excitement in the ground was at absolute fever pitch, as the few remaining England fans made their presence felt and the locals sensed a great escape. Sulieman Benn, using his 6'7" frame to fine effect, endured for 34 deliveries, and even played the shot of the day, a perfect pick-up off the legs from Anderson that soared over wide mid-on for six. But Swann troubled him with his impish variations, and after three consecutive lbw appeals, Rudi Koertzen decided that enough was enough, and sent him on his way for 21.

Scores - West Indies 285 and 370 for 9 (Sarwan 106) drew with England 566 for 9 dec (Strauss 169, Collingwood 113) and 221 for 8 dec

Auditor - General queries 2008 SLRFU accounts 

The Auditor General's Department has discovered serious financial irregularities in the accounts for 2008 by the SLRFU administration led by DIG Nimal Lewke,.

The Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, dissolved the SLRFU on January 22 and appointed an Interim Committee headed by Maiya Gunasekera with Kiran Atapattu as Secretary cum Treasurer.

The Sunday Leader learns that an Lenghty report has been sent to the IC by the auditor general's department on February 17.

Minister Lokuge and President's Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, have been informed of this development.

Private Secretary rules the roost 

Novices swim meet nearly called off

By Lal Gunasekera 

The Novices Championship of the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Aquatic Sports Union (SLASU) had to be nearly canceled due to the inefficiency of the Chairman of the Sugathadasa National Sports Stadium Complex authority (SNSSCA), Donald Abeysundera. The meet started on Thursday. Over 1300 children, most of them from the rural areas, were on their way to Colombo and the Sugathadasa Hotel was booked for their stay in Colombo.

"However on Wednesday at about 4.30 P.M., one Sunethra Perera, Private Secretary to Chairman Abeysundara, had informed the Administrative Officer of SLASU to cancel the meet as the water level at the swimming pool of the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium has gone down by eight feet" said the Secretary of the IC for SLASU, Kiran Atapattu.

He told The Sunday Leader that he immediately got in touch with the Minister of Sports, Gamini Lokuge, who had ordered Abeysundera to pump the water, attend to the leak immediately for the meet to be conducted smoothly as scheduled.

This is yet another occasion that Donald Abeysundara had attempted to sabotage a swimming event. During the nationals, the toilets were all "blocked" with swimmers having to even go elsewhere to use the toilets. The management is in a total mess with the same Sunethra Perera "calling the shots". Its high time for Minister Lokuge to remove Donald Abeysundra from his post at the SNSSCA. This is a serious problem with even the Auditor General quering  the accounts.

Atapattu further told The Sunday Leader that the Minister has to be thanked for his quick action and  two diving coaches (Chanaka Wickramasinghe and Shiraz)  dived into the pool and stopped the leak. The maintenance crew had only arrived on the scene four to five hours later, to rectify this problem.

The IC of SLASU is headed by Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

Formation of Mercantile Sports Confederation 

A Mercantile Sports Confederation is to be formed shortly for the development of sports in the mercantile sector.

The rationale behind this move is to find sponsors for the activities of its members and also  to find employment for up-and-coming sportsmen and women, particularly in the rural areas.This type of body will also carry more weight than an individual association to discuss various problems at higher level said Ashley de Abrew, President of the Mercantile Athletic Federation.

He further told The Sunday Leader that there are Approximately 34 disciplines of sport in the country governed by main bodies, and some do not have a mercantile arm due to various reasons which could be solved by a confederation of this nature.

All those who are interested in forming the Mercantile Sport Confederation should contact Ashley de Alwis at 93/5 Temple Road, Maharagama. or Nishantha Wickramage at 107/DZ Arlington Grove, Kalalgoda, Pannipitiya.   

ECB severs all ties with Stanford 

The England and Wales Cricket Board has terminated all contractual links with Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

Stanford has been charged over a $8bn (œ5.6bn) investment fraud in the US.

England will not take part in any future $20m Stanford Super Series matches or the Stanford-sponsored Quadrangular Twenty20 games in England.

The ECB said the termination of contracts would have no impact on projected payments owed to the 18 counties or grassroots cricket.

"The ECB was shocked by the charges filed against the Stanford organisation and personnel earlier this week by the SEC (USA's Securities and Exchange Commission)," said ECB chief executive David Collier.

"Within minutes of the announcement, ECB determined to suspend any further discussions with Stanford and the board has now agreed to terminate the ECB's agreements with Stanford".

"Given the uncertainty of the financial markets and the sponsorship dispute between Digicel and the West Indies Cricket Board over the matches in Antigua in 2008, when setting the 2009 budgets the board took a prudent position in creating a contingency in case the Antigua matches did not proceed.

"For that reason, ECB was able to confirm immediately to counties and Recreational Assembly (the non-professional game) that there would be no impact on fee payments in 2009."

Essex chief executive David East said: "The communication from ECB that the termination of the Stanford agreements would not negatively impact our fee payments was a great relief to all Counties.

"This allows counties to move forward with their 2009 budgets given that, for some of us, the ECB fee payment accounts for the majority of our income.

"The economic climate is very difficult at present, in particular in the area of sponsorship and corporate hospitality, and therefore a solid income base through the fee payments is critical to all counties."

Antiguan lawyer John Fuller has questioned the rigour of the checks the ECB carried out on the American.

FBI agents in the American state of Virginia served Stanford with civil legal papers from the US financial watchdog, the SEC on Thursday.

And Fuller, a former associate of Stanford, said the businessman's links to South and Central America should have set alarm bells ringing.

"You wouldn't have to dig far to raise concerns," Fuller, who worked closely with Stanford during his time as owner of airline Caribbean Star and has known the billionaire for 10 years, told BBC 5 Live. "There's been a bit of naivety.

"His bank was offering interest rates which were much higher than anyone else. He did not have any apparent income, at least here in Antigua, other than a small amount of money from two restaurants he has and a health spa.

"He was spending a lot of money on land, private jets and cricket. But the income was not visible."

Neville agrees new Man. Utd. deal 

Manchester United captain Gary Neville has agreed terms on a one-year contract extension which will keep him at Old Trafford until 2010.

The 34-year-old has spent his entire career at Old Trafford and made his debut against Torpedo Moscow in 1992.

Neville joins fellow veteran Ryan Giggs in signing a new deal at the club.

"Manchester United is the only club I wanted to play for so I am delighted to sign for another year," he told the club's official website.

The full-back has been plagued by injury for the past two seasons and spent 13 months on the sidelines with an ankle problem.

However, despite the emergence of young Brazilian full-back Rafael in his absence, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was keen to tie Neville to the club.

The England international has started nine Premier League games so far this season, featuring in a further three as substitute, and has also played three times in the Champions League.

ICC to discuss Antigua Test farce  

The International Cricket Council will hold talks next week to ensure the fiasco of the unfit ground in Antigua is never repeated.

The second Test between England and the West Indies was abandoned after 10 balls because of a dangerous outfield at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat described the situation as a "disastrous abandonment".

Lorgat added: "We never want a repeat of that situation."

The second Test was abandoned as a draw after the bowlers were unable to find their footing on the sand-covered turf.

The hastily arranged third Test ended in a dramatic draw on Thursday at the nearby Antigua Recreation Ground, the old Test venue.

The last-wicket pair of Daren Powell and Fidel Edwards hung on for 10 tense overs to help the West Indies maintain a 1-0 lead in the series.

Lorgat praised the organisers for staging the third Test at less than two days' notice.

"After such a thrilling match I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made it possible," he said.

"All these people typified the great spirit of cricket and made Thursday's exciting conclusion possible. Every cricket fan that enjoyed the match and the finish will be grateful for their efforts."

Lorgat also hailed the England supporters for their patience.

"I am especially pleased for all the England fans who travelled from far and wide only to experience great inconvenience and anxiety," he added.

"Cricket owes them an apology and I'm delighted they finally got to see a great Test match".

"A week ago we were all downcast after that disastrous abandonment which brought a great deal of unwanted negative publicity to the game."

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