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29th October 2000
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'Double crown' for Weerasinghe

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'Master Blaster' turns the corner

By Ranil Abeynaike 
After Sanath Jayasuriya appeared on the world cricket scene like a whirlwind in nineteen ninety six, his numerous supporters expect wonders from him whenever he walks out onto a cricket pitch and takes guard. However, as bowlers worked out his strengths and weaknesses, his run making was curbed. 

On his good days he was still unstoppable. The double century he made at Lords in 1998 came at a time when doubts were being cast about his future. For nearly two years he went through that spell. It was during that time that the national captaincy was thrust upon him. 

That helped him. The strength of having a coach in the calibre of Dav Whatmore by his side is a huge comforting factor. Both are very committed to their cause and complement each other superbly. 

Jayasuriya's glaring technical difference is the over use of the bottom hand on the grip.

Being a left hander that happens to be his left hand. He has forced himself into the position by gripping the bat right at the bottom of the handle. That of course happens to be his strength as well. 

Built with arms and wrists of steel he is able to hit the square of the wicket shots with tremendous power using this grip. 

To play the strokes that are his strength the bowler has to give him some width or pitch the ball right upto the bat. 

All the good bowlers reduced sending down these deliveries to him. Now the "Master Blaster" had to work for his runs. Too often he was getting out caught in the slip, gully and cover regions. He was being forced to push defensively with bottom hand or play square of the wicket shots when the ball was too close to the body. 

Jayasuriya strides to the middle to face the first delivery of an innings. The expectations of all and sundry are to see him flay the new ball to all parts of the park. He has the natural gifts of a good eye, sharp reflexes and nimble footwork. 

All essential to be a top order international batsman. He is mentally very strong in that he is able to always put that last innings behind him and look to the next knock. 

In particular if it has been a failure. A good delivery or a knock on the body does not bother him. He takes that in his stride. No bowler's antics or verbal attack hinders his concentration. 

He keeps a cool head when batting and only thinks of scoring runs. This mental make up is ideal for any young player to cultivate. 

Former South African batsman and TV Commentator Barry Richards said of Sanath Jayasuriya, during his innings against Zimbabwe, that he is absolutely brilliant when he is in full flow batting with confidence, but looks so ordinary when he is out of form and going through a bad patch. He attributed that to his technical flaws. 

That could have been said of the champion batsman some months ago. I reckon that he has turned the corner. 

Time will tell. Jayasuriya is now thirty one years of age and at the peak of his batting powers. He will remain in this prime for a few years more. 

The way he played in Kenya was heartening although both innings did not produce very big scores. 

The forty , seventy and eighty odd got in his last three innings is what has convinced me that he has turned the corner. 

It must be mentioned that the pitches in Nairobi and now in Sharjah are very good for batting. The pace is ideal. 

Not too quick to beat the bat or not slow to make stroke play difficult. The bounce too has not been too steep or low. Hitting on the up has been possible and Sanath Jayasuriya loves doing that .

The difference in Jayasuriya's play is that he is picking the correct ball to play the attacking strokes. 

He is also on the lookout to push the singles and keep the scoreboard ticking. He may not have made big hits regularly but whenever he did they were clean and handsome, powerful and well timed. 

The captain has got a taste of what should be done to post good scores consistently. He has stuck with opening the batting through good times and bad, since he first got that opportunity. 

Many felt he should push himself down the order. The man has been determined. He has won his battles through will power, sheer determination and dedication. I believe he has turned the corner and many more runs could be expected off his bat.

'Double crown' for Weerasinghe

Cpl K.S. Weerasinghe, from the Sri Lanka Light Infantry won a "double crown" at the Army Disabled Sports Meet 2000 in the Wheelchair Tennis Event. In the Singles final Cpl. Weerasinghe beat Sgt V.G. Nishantha also from the Sri Lanka Light Infantry 6/3 and then Weerasinghe combined with Nishantha to win the boubles defeating Capt. G.H.S Fonseka and D.M Dissanayake, both from the Gajaba Regiment 6/2 in the final. 

After bagging both titles Cpl. Weerasinghe who looked visibly tired, said that he could have played a better game, if he had a lighter wheelchair. The wheelchairs are very heavy and difficult to manoeuvre, and there is a possiblity that you could fall when attempting a difficult shot, said the winner. Another player had cuts on his hand as the wheelchairs were old and rusty, and did not move quickly.

The Wheelchair Tennis Tournament attracted a large number of participants. The Sri Lanka Light Infantry, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment, Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment, Gajaba Regiment. Commando Regiment and the Sri Lanka National Guard participated at this tournament. There are a large number of disabled soldiers who would like to participate in Wheelchair Tennis around the country, said Capt. S.J.N. Maheshkumar, Secretary, Army Diabled Sports Committee. However, to promote the sport, we need the assistance of the SLTA and well-wishers. This would give our soldiers a new lease of life, he added. It is estimated that there are over 5000 disabled soldiers. 

The SLTA is interested in promoting Wheelchair Tennis and we will contact prospective sponsors and well-wishers, said an SLTA Official. Well-wishers could contact the SLTA on 075-334062 or 686174.

Muscleman Ronnie, a force 'Down Under'

From Bernie Wijesekera In Sydney, Australia
Legendary Ronnie Steinwall, who did proud to Sri Lanka body building when he emerged runner-up class III at the Mr. Universe Contest, held in London in 1962, is still with his experience and know-how, a force to be reckoned with 'Down Under'. 

An old Josephian, who hails from a sporting stock, he now lives in Sydney, Australia. Ronnie, who leads a quiet life with his wife Maureen, was interviewed by The Sunday Times, after the Sydney Olympics. This one time muscular great, who matched the best in Asia, has not lost his common touch or simplicity in life. He never talked about himself, which is apparently the bane in some quarters. 

"Though I am settled here, I am still a Sri Lankan to the hilt. 

"I've not forgotten from where I started my career. If I have achieved anything in this sport, its for my country, but not for my own sake. I am a Sri Lankan to my last breath" he said. 

He was placed third in the Class III Mr. Universe to Clancy Ang (Malaysia) and (2) Ron Sterling (USA) and it may have been a tremendous effort considering the high standard he had to confront with. He still never let the country down. "Proud to mention my parents gave me all the support and encouragement despite limited resources - including my brothers. But a special word to my Ma, who had to brunt all the burden at home. Mother, is the queen of my heart. 

"My wife Maureen, todate is the cog-in-the -wheel. At times she took heavy toll on her, but ungrudingly stood by me, at all times" he added. 

Asked in what way he is involved in sports here? "A part-time instructor at the American Health Spa. I have my own gym and assist the youngsters. I believe what Prime Minister John Howard said, after Cathy Freeman won the 400M Gold. We will promote the sport at grassroots level not only to win medals, but make Australia - a "fitter nation"? A healthy body builds a healthy mind. Sports could keep out of other evils - like drugs. 

I did proud to Sri Lanka, when I was assigned as a judge in the "Mr. Australia contest" he stated Asked in what other sport he is involved, he said, "In cricket. At present I am a cricket umpire in the local district and also hold the NSW cricket umpires certificate since 1993. A senior official of the Islanders CC formed in 1986, among the Lankans. But the doors are open to all - no racialism. The present captains both 'A' and 'B' teams are Australians.

All must live with amity, but not breed hatred or jealousy." 

Anything special during your stint in Sri Lanka? "Well past is memory and all forgotten.There is a point. The sport was very competitive. There were personalities like Douggie Roberts, Suhait Deen, K.C.Karunaratne, Jeff Schrucrofft, Commaraswamy, Ronnie Abeysinghe... just to name a few. They had one vision... to boost the country's image, sans caste, race or religion. There was no petty politics in sport unlike, apparently, in some quarters today .

They are all dedicated despite limited opportunities, unlike today. There is immense talent at present and afforded with all the facilities, which augurs well for the sport. It was evident during my last visit to Sri Lanka. Won the most Muscular Man contest in 1957, '61 and 62. (Mr. Ceylon) For the first time - the Mr. Asiad was held in Sri Lanka - was runner- up to Kurshid Ahamed (Pakistan) won a "Silver" at the GANEFO Asiad in Cambodia. 

Finally speaking with emotion Steinwall, said, we must always strive to give something back to the sport which helped him to go places in life. Loyalty to the country wherever you live.

Ronnie and his wife Maureen, continue to do community service despite years rolling by, be it for their motherland or otherwise. "God's gift to you is life. What you do with it is your gift to God." 

Women have done it even before men did it

By Gwen Herat
Women played World Cup cricket two years before men though it is a little known fact. Women debuted in 1973 while their counterparts in 1975. A colourful story surrounds the first women's tournament which was funded by an avid cricket watcher, Sir Jack Hayward to the tune of 40,000 pounds.

This happened after much debate over post-dinner drinks between Sir Jack and the England women's captain, Rachel Hayoe-Fint in 1971. The teams involved in the first World Cup were England, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Jamaica's International XI and Young England. This event was not without controversy as six South African cricketers selected for the International XI were not permitted to participate due to apartheid policy. India was denied participation due to late entry and the Women's Cricket Association of India was only few months old. Princess Anne presented the winner's Trophy.

The 60 over competition was played in a round robin format with England topping the pool play and Australia second in the final played at Edgbaston. England convincingly defeated Australia by 92 runs as the match went accordingly to form. England scored 279/3 while Australia replied with 187/9. Captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint scored 64 for England. (See Table below)

In recent years, Australia and New Zealand have clearly led the world as the two top women's teams with Australia only occasionally being knocked off the top spot by their trans-Tasmania rivals. When the two teams take the field in the opening match of the 2000 World Cup, the result may well set up the standard for the final stage of the tournament. While Australia will fiercely defend the title, New Zealand will go at it with determination. This does not mean other six finalists are written off. They on their own are a formidable force. The opening match of the 7th World Cup will surely be the grudge match of the tournament and will no doubt set the scene for a fiercely contested title fight.

World Cup Finals

1973 England (297-3) beat Australia (187-9) Birmingham; 1978 Australia (100-2) beat England (96-8) Hyderabad; 1982 Australia (152-7) beat England (151-5) Christchurch; 1988 Australia (129-2) beat England (127-9) Melbourne; 1993 England (195-5) beat New Zealand (128) Lords; 1997 Australia (165-5) beat New Zealand (164) Calcutta.

Schoolgirls - the future

The host country, New Zealand are keen to promote professional cricket among her schoolgirls and with this in mind, top New Zealand schoolgirls will watch World Cup when the finals of the national secondary schoolgirls' knockout competition for the Yoplait Cup will be played alongside the Cricinfo Women's World Cup.

The top four qualifying sides will play out a round robin finals series in Christchurch at Ilan Playing Fields from December 10 to 12. This timing will allow the schoolgirls who have already displayed their talent to observe the best players in the women's game before and after their own matches.

New Zealand cricket is organising the 2000 world fight on behalf of the International Women's Cricket Council with Cricket Administrator, Catherene Campbell sparing no pain to make this World Cup the best ever organised event. She is ably supported by turf manager, Karl Johnson who has an enormous task to do a perfect job that the eight teams will expect from him during the 19 one day matches in three and half weeks over two ovals. He will keep the grass greener, no doubt.

WWW for wwc 2000

The Cricinfo Women's World Cup will be the first ever event in the history of women's sports to be available live to the whole world. Live ball-by-ball scoreboards and written comments will be provided for all 31 matches at the World Cup courtesy of Cricinfo, the home of cricket on the Internet. A dedicated world cup website, www2000 cricinfo-com has been developed by Cricinfo and New Zealand. Users can log on today to discover all the facts, figures and views of the event.

More and more countries have joined international cricket and the IWCC has become as strong as the ICC to promote this popular game. With New Zealand cricket stepping in to get involved, the game has taken very strong and forceful proportions. World Cup 2000 will further establish this position and draw still more countries into the fold. Sri Lanka is the youngest member but unlike many other countries, she has moved very swiftly to gain Test status since her debut in 1997. As the 'babe' among the other finalists, Sri Lanka is expected to perform wonders like her male counterparts.

The next World Cup will be hosted in South Africa. Sri Lanka will have to wait for many years to take her turn but she will have to prove her worth. This tournament can open the door for such prospects. Only time will tell.

The Organising Committee for Cricinfo World Cup 2000

Tim Murdoch - Convenor; Catherene Campbell - World Cup Administrator; Brian Aldrige - Umpires; John Bishop - Team Liaison; Carmen Whitaker - Match Management; Kerry Dellacea - Finance; Peter Dawn - Marketing; Andrew Gilmore - Graphic Design; Karl Johnson - Turf Manager; Mitchelle Lewis - Media Liaison; John Reid - Operations Manager; Robyn Rodgers - Administration; Phillipa Web - Marketing; Lynne O'Meara - IWC Liaison Officer.

It is 42 years since battling the odds to surface women's cricket to what it is today. When delegates sat for the first time in Melbourne in February 19, 1958 during England's tour of Australia, they would not have dreamed that by the end of year 2000 women will be playing the 8th Women's World Cup. When the delegates sit for the 16th meeting during the current World Cup in New Zealand, they will have the satisfaction of looking over their shoulders and feel elated how we all came a long way to be on par with our male colleagues.

We believe more and more countries will join the International Women's Cricket Council and work towards popularising women's cricket in their countries and compete with rest of the nations at international cricket. At the 15th IWCC General Meeting at Calcutta in 1997, Sri Lanka was granted full membership unanimously.

1st World Cup 1973 P W L NR POINTS

England 6 5 1 0 20
Australia 6 4 1 1 17
International XI 6 3 2 1 13
New Zealand 6 3 2 1 13
Trinidad and Tobago 6 2 4 0 8
Jamaica 6 1 4 1 5
Young England 6 2 5 0 4


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