2nd July 2000

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Murali - spinning his way to the top

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Sri Lanka's ace off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan stands head and shoulders above his contemporaties in terms of wickets taken per test match. The 28-year-old spin wizard has played 53 tests since making his debut and has a total of 263 wickets giving him five wickets per test match played.

Only former Australian Dennis Lillee (5.07) and former New Zealander Sir Richard Hadlee (5.01) have averaged more than five wickets in tests.

While various pieces of statistics like the strike rate (number of balls/overs per wicket) or the aveage (number of runs conceded per wicket) could be used to rank the most successful bowlers, the rankings based on the number of wickets taken per test makes interesting reading.

Kapil Dev who held the record for the most number of wickets (434) until recently is ranked at the bottom of the list averaging 3.31 wickets per test.

It was a well known fact that Kapil prolonged his career until he broke the record for the highest wicket taker (431 at that time held by Richard Hadlee).

Following closely on the heels of Muralitharan is Allan Donald (4.79) Waqar Younis (4.67) and Glen Megrath (4.65). Among the current test cricketers Anil Kumble (4.52), Shane Warne (4.36), Wasim Akram (4.20), Curtly Ambrose (4.14) are placed 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th respectively. Curtly Walsh (3.87), the holder for the highest number of wickets is placed 16th.

At the rate Muralitharan is picking up wickets it will not be too long before he sneaks ahead of Hadlee and Lilee and occupies the top spot among the all time great bowlers.

The tale of two tests

Within the space of two test matches and two weeks Sri Lanka's performances and image have taken a complete turn around. Now the future of the players and team are being questioned yet again. Under Sanath Jayasuriya's leadership the series against Australians at home and Zimbabwe and Pakistan away, the team was progressing in the test arena. This has been rudely halted, leading to a depressing slide.

When country's one hundredth test commenced on June 14 at the S.S.C grounds there was not even a hint of what was going to unfold in the forthcoming weeks. After that excessive, uncalled delay on day one Jayasuriya called correctly to win the first battle. From then on it was mistakes and poor performances galore.

With all the rain that fell during the preceeding week of that match the pitch remained covered and adding water to the top surface could not be carried out. Then the sun beamed down from the day before the game and the pitch was bone dry, looking certain to assist the spinners all the way. That Sri Lanka picked only one spinner was mistake number one.

Inadequate big scores and insufficient big partnerships in all four innings were the biggest cause for the downfall. In that very first innings of the series four batsmen scored 203 runs and the rest crumbled for just 67. Another fifty runs would have changed the complexion of the game. Most of the batsmen feel to poor strokes while Arjuna Ranatunga added to the misery by getting himself run out.

Still the home team was in the game. The bowlers were accurate and gave nothing away. The fielding was sharp. As the game moved on to day three the stage was set for a close finish on the final day. But that was not to be as most of the batsmen failed to perform. The rot set in with the last wicket partnership between Wasim Akram and Arshad Khan. Sri Lanka looked set to obtain a substantial first innings lead when the ninth Pakistan wicket fell still 97 runs behind the home team's total. With the veteran Akram inspiring, Pakistan did not look back.

Jayasuriya erred with his tactics. Akram was only six when the stand began. The skipper should have attacked at that stage. With the field pushed deep Akram had no difficulty in playing himself in and picking the runs, plus retaining much of the strike. He needed a challenge and this was it.

He shielded his partner and scored runs himself. The last straw for the home team was to score around 250 runs in their second term. As it turned out that could well have been a winning score. It was a shocking batting display that was to follow. The game was simply thrown away. Although there were some hiccups there was no doubting that the visitors were going to take a lead in the series, with Wasim Akram driving the final nail into Sri Lanka's coffin.

Jayasuriya's men were totally punch-drunk when they went in for the second test at Galle. They had clearly had not recovered from the shock of the earlier drubbing.

There were no terrors on the pitch, the bowlers did not do anything extra special with the ball. They simply went about performing their daily routine, sending down accurate deliveries. They had their share of luck but the local batsmen simply fell hook, line and sinker. The game was all but lost for Sri Lanka, when day one ended.

Sri Lanka's strike bowlers at test level are Muttiah Muralitharan and Nuwan Soysa. With Soysa being rested the attack was cannon fodder for the now confident Pakistan batsmen. Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-Ul-Haq, Younis Khan and Wasim Akram all made merry on a placid, easy paced pitch.

The home team could have only regained some prestige by batting for two days and a bit. In that they failed miserably. For the third consecutive innings the display was pathetic. In fact that is the tale of the two tests.

Royal beat STC

Royal helped by a half century by S. de Silva beat S. Thomas' Mount Lavina in their under-17 B division Horlicks Trophy limited overs encounter by 4 wickets, played at the Wesley College grounds at Campbell Park.

S. Thomas' batting first totalled 167 with a top score of 61 by J. Kosgodage.

S. Thomas B 167 all out.

(N. Dunuwille 23, J. Kosgodage 61, H. Saranapala 25, C. Sandaruwan 2/27, D. Kaushalya 2/34, M. Najmi 2/42).

Royal B 168 for 6

(S. de Silva 53, M. Najmi 27, D. John 20 (not out), H. Singhawansa 30, P. Cooray 2/20).

Dharmaraja win by 8 wickets against Royal

Dharmaraja defeated Royal in their under-17 inter school A division limited overs quarter final by 8 wickets at Reid Avenue.

The Rajan victory was spearheaded by the 96 runs scored by opener H. Ratnayake which came off 110 balls containing 17 fours. M. Wijekoon scored 55 for the Rajan supported by a unbeaten 46 by R.L. Dayananda while V. Arunprakash 92 and a good innings of 70 by R. Wijeratne.

Royal 225 for 6 in 50 overs

(V. Arunprakash 92, R. Wijeratne 70, D. Dharamadasa 2/41)

Dharmaraja 229 for 2 in 44 overs.

(H. Ratnayake 96, M. Wijekoon 55, R.L. Dayananda 46 (not out), P. Nishantha 2/29). (AK)

Rover pin points...

Without a penny

The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Association is existing without a penny. The reason? A former treasurer has not handed over the cheque books and statement of accounts. The Ministry of Education is now considering taking action.

No receipts

No accounts have been shown to the Sports Development Department where over 12 lakhs have been taken to look after the journalists for the SAF Games in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Rover learns that no receipts have been produced! The other point is that no reports were given by those who went as observers to the said Games. What a colossal waste of money.

No youngsters

Since 1994 a general know-all is making every trip at the Sports Ministry expense. This person is the mouth-piece of many and is supposed to be 80 years old.

How true

What a farce it was when only a handful of leading women athletes came under the starter's orders over the weekend. The majority of the participants were schoolgirls and the supposed to be top-meet resembled a junior schools meet. What a waste of money and time.

Watch dog

Those involved with the WorldTel got away with it, but now comes the news that Cricinfo has tied up, but they will have to look sharp since a lady from Sri Lanka so much in the news of cricket will be keeping a tab on their activities.

Looking out for sponsors

An attempt is being made by the athletic boss to draw credit to himself by being the first ever to get all the officials in one uniform for the nationals. Demands are being made to many using his present status to obtain same. Well done indeed!

Why trials now

Trials are being held to pick swimmers for the Sydney Olympics, Rover wishes to learn why no trial was held to pick the sole swimmer for the World Championships who was accompanied by a coach. Why no coach for the Olympics? What double-standards indeed.

Who's who

Congratularly messages are pouring to The Sunday Times for exposing the Sports Ministry grounds at the Race Course, drawing a reference to what we had forgotten to state that, the famous woman athlete K.G. Badra who is the Assistant Director is the spouse of the big mouth who is fighting the cause and the athletics chief.

Coach threatened

Rover learns that D.S. was removed because he refused to accomodate the nephew of a top official of the Cricket Board in the under-19 pool. In no uncertain terms this coach was told to include this cricketer, but he point blank refused to do so saying that there are many spinners in the pool-others with all-round ability than his nephew. The Coach was told to wait till the AGM is over and "I will fire you." Damn disgrace.

Three of same community

A higher up in the Cricket Board was heard boasting, that three of his community are in the present Ex Co., which is it for the first time. He further was heard saying that "we are in a position now to look after their benefits." What a boast and a shame.

Golfers fly courtesy Mercedes Benz

Ranjit Pandithage, Managing Director of Diesel & Motor Engineering Ltd., in a spirit of lavishness took the Annual Mercedes Benz Trophy Golf Competition to Nuwara Eliya this year and the near 100 competitors were given a further taste of Dimo hospitality.

The Nuwara Eliya Golf Club was packed to capacity loaded with golfers and spouses. Ken Murray and Sunil Jayakody combined superbly and with the assistance of that busy beaver Secretary Clive Tissera they produced an excellent long weekend of golf and more golf.

Through the tournament Chris Worthington was exceptional as Master of Ceremonies.

Tall and broad shouldered Romesh Abhayaratne the son of Marlyn and 'Duchess' Abhayaratne was in excellent form playing great golf well within his reach. At no stage did he lose his grip on the game and he moved through to take the 'A' Division Mercedes Benz Trophy with complete ease.

Chula Amerasinghe was hot behind Abhayratne but one or two weak finishes forced him to take 2nd place. Amerasinghe is up and coming and it will not be long before he starts capturing events and titles. S M Kang came third in that division.

Joe 'Boy' wins

Joe Perera came much alive with a praiseworthy performance on a forenoon after the night before. Steady, miserly and with a will to win he inched his way to take the 'B' Division Dimo award beating a strong contender in Sunil Jayakody. Much was expected from Anil de Silva in this division but he slipped into 3rd position.

Nimo's son shines

Dhiran Nirmalalingam a rookie at the Ridgeways stretched to little known territory in N'Eliya and came off with a resounding victory with a formidable score.

He has style and now he needs application. He took the 'C' Division Mercedes Benz award beating Elmo de Silva who is as raw a rookie but a tenacious player. Pat Dias new to the game and exceptionally keen came third.

Wasantha takes laurels

Wasantha de Silva came to life after 9 months of golf. Youthful, aggressive and with a flair for ball games he impressed himself with encouraging performances at the Ridgeways in recent months.

He very bravely strolled into the tricky N'Eliya course and backed by absolute confidence took the laurels in the 'D' Division. Joseph Kenny was sailing along superbly causing concern when untidiness and loss of concentration filtered into his play to get behind de Silva. K Mirchandani who even though 3rd in the ranking appeared quite elated and pleased with himself.

Special events

Chula Amerasinghe had a magnificent shot off the first tee to beat a crop of contenders in the longest drive competition. It was a massive shot with a great carry and dead centre.

He was found celebrating incessantly at lunch time. S S Kim took a slow and measured swing on the 17th. He hit the green in front of the pin and the ball settled in an almost unbeatable position.

He was declared closet to the cup. Afeez was given a very special award made of timber rot for his reckless play which brought him only 9 points off 18 holes. Dr Shelton Jayasinghe now affectionately known as 'papa' was greeted with a stunning round of applause for being the oldest participant and Jehan De Saram received a box of Scuhard for being the baby of the competition.

"Players must escort Ref." Rodrigo

By Bernie Wijesekera

Former Police S.C. Havelocks S. C. and Sri Lanka scrumhalf Roger Rodrigo is here on a short holiday from West Asia.

Roger was one of the best, who served the ball from the base. Rodrigo who has watched a couple of games in the ongoing season was saddened at the behaviour of the fans in some quarters after the game, when they were trying to manhandle the referee.

I think the Refs. are doing a reasonably good job under trying conditions. True, they do make mistakes. It may be human error, but a section of the fans or for that matter any player should not be allowed to harrass them. It's the prime duty of the authorities and the players to look to their security after the game.

Rodrigo mentioned this to The Sunday Times after watching the CR and FC Havies under 24, Le Bond semi-final match at the 'Park' during the last weekend.

The Ref. did make mistakes, but the Havies still played badly and lost the match, he added.

During our times after the match all the players escorted the Ref. to the pavilion after the game whatever the final outcome was. We were taught to respect him, otherwise you are in trouble. The authorities will take action. Durng my stint with the Police S.C. personalities like Mr. Ernest Perera, Sumith Silva etc. were on the ball. Any misconduct means you will be hauled up and not only be dropped but may be transferred. Enjoy, play hard, but not dirty.

But sad to mention, it's not happening in some quarters, these days. I think the coach must instil on the players that they must escort the Ref. after the game.

Roger, still looking fit and rarin' to go said, 'I was keen to play some rugby for my old Club Havies, but there is no club rugby for one month due to the Asiad. Why postpone it merely because the National team is on tour. Aren't there other players in the teams to take their places?', he asked.

But times have changed. Even with the national players there isn't a crowd unlike during our times he added.

2006 FIFA World Cup

Within the framework of the 2006 FIFA World Cup bid, the German Football Associatin (DFB) has donated sports equipment worth Rs. 400,000 to the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.

This donation is part of a programme to support schools and sports clubs in several Asian countries that have taken special initiatives in the areas of youth and football at grassroots.

The donation consists of 30 kits for school and youth teams including shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, balls and bags.

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