2nd January 2000

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Best cricketers for the past 30 years

My first step towards big time cricket was in 1970 when I secured a place in the first eleven team at S. Thomas' College. Since then the sport has taken me through club, representative, national and other grades of cricket in this country, England and Australia. Then onto the current platform as an Administrator, Curator, Coach, Broadcaster and Journalist.

I reminisced and sifted the best through my mind to pick a team of Sri Lankan men who in the past thirty years I have played with, against or watched in action. Here is eleventh in batting order.

The current national skipper comes to mind to open the innings. Sanath Jayasuriya had a golden run in 1996 and 1997. In the modern game where one day stuff is taken seriously to have an opener who can bash it around is a great advantage. He needs more consistency in the longer game, but the few very big innings he has compiled somewhat compensates.

Anura Tennekoon who skippered prior to Sri Lanka attaining 'Test' status was in my book the technically most sound batsman of that era. He was a graceful strokemaker who usually batted at number three. At times he opened too and being used to going in early when an opener failed, he was never uncomfortable in opening.

To many cricket followers in this country Michael Tissera was the role model cricketer. He was a delightful batsman to watch, strong off both the front and back foot. He bowled leg spin and captained with authority and intelligence. He would be the vice captain of my side.

The most successful batsman ever has to be Aravinda de Silva. He displayed talent from a young age but it was only after about half a dozen years in the international arean that he blossomed into the champion player he is. A season of English county cricket with Kent converted him to a complete all-rounder.

If Aravinda de Silva is the most successful batsman then Arjuna Ranatunga's batting record is not far behind. Since he entered the fray in the country's inaugural Test in 1982 he has been around battling his way for the country. His greatest asset has been playing successfully when the team is in a difficult situation. Succeeding under pressure in sport is the real test. Ranatunga has been the country's most successful captain and will lead the side.

Like many who hailed from the town of Moratuwa Duleep Mendis played a cavalier brand of cricket. Never frightened to attack Mendis could tear any attack apart on his day. Although he employed a lot of bottom hard in his play, he was blessed with steely wrists and was able to execute all the strokes in the book.

The stumper of the team is Mahes Gunatilleke. He was in the national side for a short period of time before being lost to South Africa. He was efficient, neat and tidy. He was a fitness fanatic and reveled on hard work. Contributions were regular off his bat making him an all-round wicket keeper.

Ashantha de Mel was a complete fast bowler. He bowled at a brisk pace, moved the ball both ways, shipped in the yorker and a lethal bouncer and possessed the meanness required for the trade. He was also a hard hitting batsman who made valuable runs for his team.

Sharing the new ball with Ashantha de Mel would be Rumesh Ratnayake. Ratnayake could be classed as the quickest bowler produced by Sri Lanka. His somewhat slinging action made it difficult to pick the line of flight. He was an intelligent bowler who was cool under pressure. Ajith de Silva was a classical left arm spinner with a high arm action, able to extract spin off the pitch. In addition he bowled accurately making it very difficult to score runs off him.

No Sri Lankan team will be complete without Muttiah Muralitharan. Undoubtedly the best spinner produced, he is an automatic choice for both the long game and the shorter version. It is never easy to compare players of different eras. I have judged these players by their ability to adapt to conditions and situations. Given that I am certain these eleven men would have been successful during any period of time.

Vijayabahu Motocross - 2000 - Kurunegala

The Sri Lanka Army Motor Sports Committee and the Weds Racing Club in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Racing Riders Association will be staging the first motor sports event in the New Millennium on Sunday January 9, 2000 at the Boyagane Estate, Kurunegala, the home of the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment.

The Brand new Vijayabahu Motocross Track will no doubt be the most picturesque racing track in Sri Lanka amidst the shades of a 30 acre coconut grove.

Kurunegala is the native of most of the racing riders in Sri Lanka and they have been yearning to have a racing circuit of their own in Kurunegala.

The new track built by the Sri Lanka Army Motor Sports Committee with the assistance of the Weds Racing Club has brought reality to this expectation.

The organizers have included two novices events - a ladies event and a 1-hour endurance race for the first time in Sri Lanka.

All proceeds of this meet will he donated to the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment for the welfare of disabled soldiers.

Entries will be closed at the Goldwing Motors, 125, Nawala Road, Narahenpita, Colombo 5 and Buultgens Brothers, Puttalam Road, Kurunegala at 5 pm on January 3, 2000.

Rajans held to a draw

Dharmaraja's hopes of securing an elusive victory came to naught in the face of some determined resistance from the Sri Sumangala Panadura frontliners. Thus their inter school match played at Lake View ended in a draw. Rajan skipper Asanga Marapana bowled superbly to claim a match bag of 11 for 119 with his left arm leg spinners.

However Sri Sumangala's number three bat, left hander Dilruwan Perera 108 and C. Aravinda 75 figured in a second wicket partnership of 137 to stall the home team. Perera had 7 fours and 4 sixes in his grand knock while Aravinda reached the boundary eight times.

Sri Sumangala 148 in 55.5 overs (M. Rajapakse 44, D. Perera 39, S. Silva 15, A. Marapana 5/38, A. Jayasundera 2/19, R. Ekanayake 2/15 and 321 in 86.4 overs (D. Perera 108, C. Aravinda 75, S. Silva 37, D. Maduranda 36, A. Marapana 6/81, N. Ekanayake 2/14).

Dharmaraja 249 in 75.4 overs (H. Rathnayake 59, N. Ekanayake 51, M. Wijekoon 46, C. Weerasinghe 31, D. Ariyadasa 19, J. Nilaweera 4/22, T. Perera 4/100, S. Silva 2/33). A.K.

S. Thomas', Nalanda evenly matched

By Bernie Wijesekera

S. Thomas' College Mt. Lavinia open their inter-school cricket season for the start of the year 2000 against Nalanda on January 3 and 4 (Monday and Tuesday) on their home grounds. Play commence at 10. a.m.

It should produce two days of interesting cricket to the fans.

Both teams look evenly matched and are strong in batting.

The Thomians will be led by fourth-year coloursman Gihan Fernando, while Nalanda will be led by Mevan Porage, who was a member of the Under-19 junior national pool.

According to the Thomian coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe, they will play nine matches in the first term including the big match against Royal. There are seven coloursmen who will play for the Mt. Lavinia school. It's a well-knitted all-round side, who should show up well in this season.

Whatever the final outcome the players have been taught that the spirit of the game has to be maintained at all times on and off the field, Dinesh added.

Healthy competition is vital, but its traditions must be maintained at all times for the future. The young Thomians will enjoy to play the game that way, Kumarasinghe added.

The team was seen training at the CCC grounds in preparation for the coming season. According to Nalanda coach, Jayantha Seneviratne, they will have five coloursmen in their fold. In the third term matches fielding let us down at crucial stages of the game.

Much attention has been paid to this all important area. It's catches that win matches, he nodded. One learns by mistakes. If you don't lose then you will not know how to win, he added. Seneviratne was confident that Nalanda will enjoy a good season, with a team blended with experience.

Cricket champs still not declared. Why?

By Bernie Wijesekera

The 1999-2000 Division I premier cricket tournament is on the half way mark, but the Cricket Board Tournament Committee, has still to declare the champions for the 1998-1999 cricket season.

After the postponed match between the CCC and Sinha SC match, where CCC won the game to come on top. A lot happened in the process. it stirred a hornet's nest with protests made by Bloomfield and Colts CC.

An inquiry was held where a gread deal of hot air swirled around on the manner in which this postponed match was conducted. Apparently in some quarters they say it was rigged. The word 'rigged' is quite common these days, be it on or off the field here. It means to win at any cost.

Anyway, if it has happened then it isn't cricket.

The Tournament Committee after inquiring into it put its findings to the disciplinary committee for action.

Why this delay to give its final decision? Why put this to the disciplinary committee is the question asked among club circles?

Had they adhered to the rules of the game this could have been avoided. The administration is surely to be blamed for this lapse.

It's a shame it is being dragged on to the millennium, thereby making first class cricket played here - a mockery.

It they had men with professional skills who act without fear or favour this could have been avoided. How many of these clubs are fit to play first class cricket? Do they have a club house or the facilities to train or to promote the game?

Vote catching

Apparently it's another vote catching ruse to win their support at general meetings.

The authorities should have seen to this by rendering all assistance to these less affluent clubs to go places rather than use them to stay at the helm of affairs. Let them play at the district level and improve their image as is done in countries like in Australia.

If there is talent in these clubs it's the duty of the talent scouts to spot them and harness them within the national training squad. Some of these clubs are not fit to stand the stress of three-day cricket. At times the matches don't last even two days. In the process they are mere canon fodder for the affluent clubs to pile up points to win trophies. The on-going episode could be attributed to lack of thinking for the greater good and future of cricket in Sri Lanka.

Tee talk with Tita Nathanielsz

Hefty Bakelmun takes President's Trophy

The contest for the President's Trophy at the Royal Colombo Golf Club is very keenly contested annually. The event is quite prestigious.

Records tell us that in the year 1883 the President of the Royal Colombo S.G. Williams instituted the President's Cup contest with 12 contesting and the trophy was won by F.N. Campbell.

Since then the contest has been on the cards without interruption except in the world war years when the club and the course were occupied by the troops and golfing activities got choked off almost completely.

President Suranjan

Dr. Suranjan de Silva is the current President of the Royal Colombo and in lavish style he presented an attractive award to accompany the challenge trophy to the winner.

Bakelmun wins

Ron Bakelmun is a regular 4 baller which are games that are keenly contested with no quarter given in any form, not even of charity.

Bakelmun has sharpened his skills in these games where one has to be extremely miserly with strokes. He is a regular winner from the looks of him and he has built up an excellent reputation as a hard-to-beat competitive golfer.

In the President's Trophy event he put all his skills in one basket to snap nett 68 in the first round and to close the basket he took in nett 71 in the 2nd round. A hundred and thirty nine nett was totally adequate to collect the President's Trophy and the Suranjan De Silva award. The celebration spread over elastic hours in a great spirit of camaraderie. Dr. Chelliah Thurairajah, a stylish left hander and elegant stroke player came 2nd with nett 143.

The happy lot

A dozen or more failed to come in within the limits of recognition but they certainly contributed to the amusement and fun of the game.

They increased the wealth of the coffers of pond boys, they helped with funds for roof repairs in the neighbourhood and they walked an extra mile in pursuit of their straying shots. This very special breed of players are a great crop much liked by the fraternity for the terrific spirit they show through the disasters they collect on each outing.

Little change in Asian Football rankings

Iran were Asia's only major mover in the rankings for September, the Persian nation climbing three spots on the FIFA/ Coca-Cola World Ranking list from 50th to 47th, closing in on the continent's top two of Saudi Arabia and the Korea Republic. The leading duo remained unmoved over the month, the Saudis leading the way in 38th and the Koreans just behind in 40th, Fourth placed Japan were also unchanged, sitting just one place outside the world's top 50. Kuwait, in 5th, dropped two places to 58th.

Further down the list there were minor moves up for the United Arab Emirates (63rd, up two), Indonesia 100th,up two) and Malaysia ( 115th, up two). Korea DPR were the month's biggest losers, sliding down four places to 166th.

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