18th February 2001
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Test Cricket nears official competition

When the inaugural World Cup limited overs competition was conducted by the ICC, in England, in 1975, it was a form of an experiment. Brilliant weather and good pitches brought out some entertaining cricket for that era. In a tall scoring game, the final reached a fitting climax. The One Day World Championship had come to stay. Since then four nations have been accepted into the international fold. The last two, Bangladesh and Kenya playing only the One Day version. With the One Day competition being hosted by different countries, taking turns, its status is fully established. Test cricket, the original format of international cricket took a temporary back seat. There was that chilly feeling that the long game may not survive for too long. The main governing body and governing bodies of respective countries have slowly inched towards some solutions. Players themselves have realized that the real test of the game is Test cricket. They have looked to play positively and achieve results in five days. That has helped. So too groundsmen, who are now preparing more result-oriented pitches. In fact some of them favour the bowler too heavily, making games too one-sided. The International Cricket Conference at their very recent meeting discussed this proposition in detail. They will possibly follow the World Championship points system which is published regularly in the Wisden Cricket Monthly Magazine. They have been advocating this system for the past four years. The ICC is expected to draw up a ten-year schedule, obliging all Test playing countries to meet each other regularly. Each country - ten of them, after Bangladesh was promoted - will have to play home and away series against everyone else over a five-year cycle, starting each series, abolishing the one-off Tests. Teams will be able to meet more often if they wish and the existing clashes will not be disturbed. So the Ashes Series can continue as in the past, played over a four year period, home and away. After fine tuning the system the final resolution will be known in the near future. What is certain is that a league table will be in operation. The question is should there be a knock-out situation at the end of five years to determine the ultimate winners. The case against that is a country could fall at the final hurdle and be deprived of what they have toiled to achieve over such a long period of time. The Wisden Championship System has been accepted as the most objective and relevant method available. The only flaw will be rectified when every team plays every other team twice within five years. Perhaps it could also be a solution to the match fixing scandal. Players need an over-riding reason for winning to stop them falling prey to the corrupt who hang around with their devious intentions. The Wisden version seems fair, simple and non subjective. Total fairness is perhaps not possible. After all Cricket is a game that is dependent on toss, pitch and weather conditions and human fallibility.

Ratnapura disaster: what actually happened?

Sports Editor's reply to SLAMS Secretary

Paragraph: 1

The comment that the "Meet was headed for disaster" has been made in the context of Up Country Motor Sports Club (UMSC) tying up with Sabaragamuwe Motor Sports Club (SGMSC) to conduct the Meet - and in no way, a slur on Sabaragamuwe MSC.

Paragraph: 2

False and misleading: From the start, Sabaragamuwe MSC has been very anxious to run the Meet with Southern Motor Sports Club. (Correspondence available with Southern MSC) However, Southern MSC had requested certain conditions to be fulfilled - mainly conditions related to safety aspects and since these conditions could not be met, Southern MSC declined to run the Meet jointly.

It is relevant to state that the Vice President of UMSC is also the Secretary of SLAMS (interim) and was the starter at the Sabragamuwe Meet- thus an Official at the Meet. He was also the UMSC representative to the former SLAMS and currently represents the Up Country Motor Sports Club at the Federation of Motor Cycle Sports (FMSSL).

Paragraph: 3

False: SLAMS (interim) the controlling body for Motor Sports (Cars) and the Controlling body for Motor Sports (Motor Cycles) - FMSSL both now insist that the rules and regulations, supplementary rules and entry forms are lodged with them one month before a Meet. This is mandatory. A fee is also charged. This is done, presumably, so that the above bodies could study such and confirm with laid down regulations. The hard fact is that no one ever study these documents - and the requirement a mere formality than for an actual purpose - and obviously has been so in this case too. SLAMS had failed to inform to exclude inexperienced Competitors from taking part.

Paragraph: 4

False: The Stewards have every power to get involved in the conduct of the Meet. (Clause 08.10 of the General Competition Rules of (SLAMS) Refer in particular to 8.10 (d) and (n) where the Steward even have powers to order the abandoning of a Meet for reasons of safety - if this is an issue or even modify the course if need be.

Paragraph: 5

False: Perhaps Mr. Munasinhe who was the starter at this Meet was busy otherwise. A number of Drivers who are willing to come forward will vouch that the Clerk of the Course who was also hanging around the start line had questioned them on the reasons for removing seats, covering the lamps, fixing perspects to guard the windscreen etc. etc. To object to the questioning would have meant being ousted from the event! - Remember the Officials were "pigheaded" - which you yourself agree to!

Paragraph: 6

Misleading: It is not for the Organisers to depend on the Police or a competitor to inform them of what is happening on the track. It is fundamental that the Organisers at least through line of sight between flag Marshals and the Starter or through communication link-up keep abreast of all that is taking place. At organising stage the Starter should have insisted on proper communication and seen that such was made available. To stage a Meet of this magnitude without a proper link-up, to say the least, was inviting disaster!

The Starter, as much as the other Officials, is responsible for the proper conduct of the Meet. The Clerk of the Course needs every assistance of all Officials to function effectively - including that of the starter. Since the Starter happened to be a Vice President of UMSC- the organising club - he should have bent backwards to extend his best for a successful Meet.

Paragraph: 7

Misleading: There is no contradiction on Chicanes being meant to reduce the speed of vehicles. The question is on the designing and nature of the Chicane. Apparently last year the Chicanes were tested over a period of two days, thoroughly and the design changed many a time taking into consideration the surface, vehicle type, speed, manoeuverability and other factors. This year that thoroughness, as some representatives of Sabragamuwe MSC has divulged, was not there. The Chicane design was poor (experienced Race drivers have informed us) and the exit of the Chicane opened out to a spectator area. Either the spectators should have been relocated or the Chicane design altered.

If at all, the President FMSSL will know what is good for Motor Cycles. The two Stewards appointed by SLAMS have no racing car experience. You yourself claim that the Stewards are "only decision-makers" (?) and "neutral people" and need not have experience in racing.

Having said so, what then is the point in obtaining the opinion of Stewards at this Meet?

Paragraph: 8

(1) Comment: The Stewards on duty, we presume were adults and they, we once again presume, were aware of their duties. If the "Stewards" so desired, they could have called for a second inspection with another Official/driver to inspect the track if the driving of the Clerk of the Course was not to their liking or ORDERED the Clerk of the Course to drive at a speed of their liking at the risk of stopping the Meet if he failed to assist in a proper inspection of the track. Your statement is tantamount to a childish explanation and seem to have been made to ridicule the Clerk of the Course.

Paragraph: 9

It is our humble opinion that all Officials including the two Stewards each from SLAMS and FMSSL cannot shirk responsibility. They were present as appointed Officials of the two controlling bodies for Motor Sports (Cars and Motor Cycles) and if safety of the Meet was their prime concern they should have been more vigilant and considered in their duties more seriously.

The Stewards do have the power and authority to travel with the Clerk of the Course at the beginning of each event if they so desire, order (or request) him to drive at a speed they wanted particularly as the "whip" was in their hand.

For the above reasons, we cast doubt on the interpretation of your statement, which after all is only one side of the story.

What we are interested in is to find out why such a poorly organised Meet was given approval to be run. If the controlling bodies for the sport cannot properly control them the alternative is very obvious!

Neville deserves help

By Annesley Fereira

My intention of drawing the attention of the Minister for Sports, is to help the ailing former Senior National Soccer coach Neville Abeygunawardene to receive some measure of aid to hopefully recover from the stranglehold of cancer, to which this once soccer revolutionary has unfortunately fallen victim.

I was fortunate to have come under his training both in the Nugegoda District soccer team and in the National Youth Pool later. For sheer brilliance in the art of coaching and his ingenuity in using tactical ploys, quite apart his irresistibility to infuse discipline amongst the trainees, there has been none even remotely to match this remarkable person since then. A few anecdotes from my personal knowledge would reflect his true self.

Our victory over the 1st Division Swiss Red Stars FC in early 60s was the first ever against European teams. The defeat of the Pakistan National team was the first international success of ours, followed by many other wins against Tornados FC Division 1 champs in the States, Macabi FC champs of Israel and Spartak FC Prague.

The near great performance against Israel in the pre-Olympic match in Tel Aviv in 1968, when our team almost held Israel to a draw before Hashim Deen the goal-keeper was injured in the last 12 minutes of the game and the reserve let in two goals in chilling cold winter.

Mind you the Israel team lost the Olympic final on the toss of a coin, so much so for our soccer standards then. Neville coached a second string to become runner-up in the Agha Khan Gold Cup in Dhaka 1968 and in his last outing 1978 a totally second eleven beat the Maldives national team twice in Male. Since then Maldives have had the better of us in four encounters.

Apart from strategy Nevillie was an uncompromising disciplinarian. Any person big or small who dared to cross the norms of the sport was fiercely contested. When the late Sugathadasa suspended Neville for life and the team headed by Peter Ranasinghe for two years for the refusal to play a visiting Yugoslavian top team for the reason that our team had not received adequate training, Neville won the day when the litigation that followed ordered the reinstatement of both the coach and the team.

Subsequently when F.A. Yaseen backed by Vincent Perera the Minister of Sports suspended the coach indefinitely after the Saudi Asian Cup tour on some flimsy ground, Neville led by counsel H.L. de. Silva brought the authorities to their knees. A panel headed by the Late B.G.S. David, Dunstan Alwis, and J. Paranahetty all legal luminaries hearing a report from the Manager of the Pakistan Tour where we were the runner-up, and evidently on a framed up charge against Neville, wilted away in minutes when the entire team led evidence on why the coach refused the extention of the tour.

There are inumerable instances when players have been dropped instantly for trying to influence the coach. When Major Amirthalingam brought Sadikeen an army player before Neville for clemency against dismissal and the poor chap fainted, Neville said this after revival 'Fall or no fall I will not recall him Major'. When Dinapala a strongly built player said to a team mate in training 'dhapan boley machang' Neville gave him immediate marching orders saying 'I am training a national, team and not a fishmongers' club'.

Neville coached clubs and schools all over the country for over four decades and that too sans any remuneration whatsoever. Only the travelling, lodging and food was arranged. Today this peerless coach lies feeble and weak wanting assistance to meet his illness. While a few with the local soccer giant Manilal and the FFSL have come to his aid, a richly deserving aid from the Ministry of Sports is obviously welcome. Over to you Mr. Minister!

Amrit shines again

Rathven de Livera the Chief Executive of Excel Trading, the Ceramic Title specialists is quite a talented golfer showing much promise of hitting the bright sparks of the Ridgeways of the Royal Colombo Golf Club. His enthusiasm for the game and his desire to improve standards all round prompted him to have his Company sponsor the February 2001 Medal round and from all reports I collected the event was a massive success.

Amrit de Soysa

This little fellow has now dropped to 7 and with his low handicap he continuously hits the spots and gains recognition in monotonous regularity. At Digana 2 weeks ago he was quite enterprising and just last week he cracked a 2 under par nett 70 to take the A Division Classic. Murad Ismail with handicap 9 played a praiseworthy round to nett 71 and take 2nd position. Alain Gyi, Anel de Silva and Chellapah Thurairaja followed quite indifferently.

H. Esufally

Last week at Digana Esufally was raising hell but just a few days ago he took complete command with excellence off the tees and competence on the greens. 4 under par nett was his commendable performance beating Koichi Cho by 2 strokes and taking the "B" Division Award. Koichi Cho who is hitting the ball with much improved accuracy continues to play rewarding golf.

Erath Karunaratne

He went round the course relaxed and trouble free using his 24 strokes cautiously and intelligently. He claimed that he played with an obedient ball and the result of nett 60 was no surprise to him. An excellent nett score the young man was absolutely thrilled and showed his pleasure at the 19th. He picked the "C" Division medal beating Dr. P.L. Samarasinghe comfortably who shot an excellent nett 69.

Norman Chandraratne

Chandraratne has moved into the Seniors category though his performance was not much to talk about. He won the Medal beating the hammer and sickle stylist D.S.P.S. de Silva by one stroke. They entertained each other joyfully.

Elmo de Silva

Shirley's brother Elmo made a masterly design in the special category of Masters. His nett 70 was adequate to beat Neil Chanmugam and take a special award of ceramic tiles from Excel Trading.

Sarath Piyaratne

This man could crack the 300-yard barrier at anytime of his seeking. He has "Power Vantage" to give him speed, distance and accuracy. He exhibited his brilliance when he chalked up a victory in the longest drive contest.


Shirley de Silva, Harris Seresinghe, Willie Barsenbach & David Gyi brought no returns and very wisely made packets of confetti from their cards.


There were several centuries scored in classic style. Saman Premasiri cracked a single Nelson and so did senior Johann Leembruggen. Others who punished the turf were G.C. Wickremasinghe, Basil Amerasinghe, Paul Goh, Nihal Ranasinghe & Sunimal Rodrigo.

The Course

Kumar Boralessa the manicurist has much to be proud about but his gigantic task is far from complete. He is vigilant and dedicated and that is satisfying assurance.

The Club House

Every area has been spread out. Walls have been pushed back and ceilings lifted but absolutely no floor area has been prepared for dancing on Club Nights. I cannot imagine and dread to think of high heels on one foot square polished floor tiles and my advice to those who have a rough morning after a night before is "Keep your eyes off the main walls."

Our surfers to challenge Japanese

Ten local surfers will also vie for honours on the last two days, Friday and Saturday (February 22 and 23) in the first ever Professional Surf Championships 2001 sponsored by SriLankan Airlines at the Hikkaduwa Beach.

Thirty two Japanese will be joined by a locally based Japanese youth Yonebaysha in their battle for supremacy in the Indian Ocean waters in front of the 'A Frame' shop at the Hikkaduwa beach in the Professional Class on Wednesday and Thursday (February 21 and 22).

Among the starters for the professional challenge, number 1 ranked Tetsuya Crayams of Japan will face stiff competition from the number 2 ranked Daisuke Imamura, the No 3- Kazunori, No 4-Masakazu Kono and the No 6- Toshihiro Sekiya amongst the others also ranked upto 44.

Joining the ten locals will be ten from the Maldives on the day three and four races which are scheduled to get underway at 6.30 a.m. and conclude at 11 a.m.

Kawami Ami Tadashi will be the Tournament Director, who is incidentally the Japanese Professional Surfers Association president with Asaor Ogawa as the Chief Judge.

Six journalists and a cameraman from Japan are due to cover this championships which is going to be an annual event sponsored by the SriLankan Airlines.

The championships are bound to draw a lot of attention as entrance is free. Hikkaduwa Hoteliers' Association are the co-sponsors.

They will join the main sponsor, SriLankan Airlines, Jetwing Travels, Carlsberg, The Sunday Times and MTV.

Having visited the site of the championships, the Japanese Professional Surfing Association gave the go-ahead stating that the facilities available were more than enough.

The JPSA was established in 1981 and is an affiliate of the Association of Surfing Professionals which conducts ten surfing championships a year in Japan.

A successful surfing championships was held in Bali with over 200 surfers taking the splash.

The beach at Hikkaduwa will have a 'Rock Festival' every evening on the four days, with the best rock and reggae bands in Sri Lanka being in attendance which is open to the public.

The prizegiving will take place on Saturday (February 24) at the Coral Gardens, Hotel Hikkaduwa with many rewards and surprises.

Joes, a fine fightback

By Supun Perera

St. Joseph's displayed one of their finest performances in recent past when they staged a superb fightback to hold S. Thomas, Mount Lavinia from a certain victory, in their annual encounter which was concluded on 13.02.2001. It is no doubt that S. Thomas's celebrating their 150th year in existence, was looking for success with an experienced side which consists of young outstanding players like Mesdad Peiris, Aruna Bandaranayake and Jeevan Mendis. The first day totally belonged to them where Meshad Peiris made a very well compiled (136) and he was ably supported by Jeevan Mendis with an elegant unbeaten (82) in their mammoth total of 271/04 dec. They had the Josephians in all sorts of trouble by claiming six wickets for just 51 runs when the stumps were drawn on the first day. The second day was a day where Josephians dominated. In the very first hour of the morning they were bowled out for 106 runs and forced to follow on. The whole day belonged to young, agile Josephian's wicket keeper/batsman Suren Perera. He showed "attack is the best form of defence." His innings of 129 was not only of great character but showed abundant stamina and courage to fight under pressure. What a champion knock it was! He was ably supported by skipper Danuka Pathirana and Chinthaka Aravinda with well compiled half centuries. When the 'curtains fell' on second day Josephians were well over the seas by having amassed 294/08. A big "Thank You" should go to the players of both these great institutions where the match was played in true spirit and the cricket was the ultimate winner. St. Joseph's retained Gilmour Jayasuriya Memorial Shield for another period of one year having won it in 1998 under Monto Perera. - Well done Joes!

Franklyn and Oshada pull off big upsets in asian Jnr. tennis

The South Asian Junior Tennis Tournament which was held during 28th January and 9th February has sent a warning message to other nations that Sri Lanka's junior boys' tennis players are a force to reckon with at the forthcoming World Tennis Championship which is due to be held in Sri Lanka from 30th April to 6th May.

At the concluded South Asian Tournament the top 3 Sri Lankan boys once again reached the quarter finals stage in the boys' singles event of the second tournament. In the doubles event one pair rached the final, while the other pair the semi-finals. These results are well above expectations. We knew our boys would fare well, but this is a bonus", said Arjan Perera, Chairman, Coaching and Promotions.

'These boys entered the last eight in both tournaments. They worked hard for it and they deserve it. Franklyn, Nishendiran and Amrith brought honour to our country," he further said.

Nishendiran out

Sri Lanka's hopes of at least one player reaching the semi-finals in the boys' singles event hinged mainly on 6th seed N.S. Nishendiran who had to beat Alexander Lidzar from Kazakhstan in the quarter finals. The first set was evenly matched with both players attacking each other's weaker shot, the backhand.

Nishendiran who had a better serve than his opponent looked the favourite, when he led 5/2 in the tie-breaker in the first set. Then the Central Asian player hit some outstanding forehand drives to turn the set in his favour. Nishendiran won the next set playing a more aggresive style at 2/6. Realizing the importance of the final set and playing in front of the home crowd young Nishendiran choked on important points and paid the penalty, losing 6/1.

Franklyn Emmanuel the Sri Lankan top Junior lost to top seed Dmitry Ivanoa of Uzbeckistan 6/3, 6/1, while Amrich Rupasinghe was beaten by Dutta Anushmann of India. Anushmann finally won the singles title when he beat the top seed Dmitry Ivanoa 7/5, 6/4 in the finals.

Major upset

Sri Lanka's doubles pair Franklyn Emmanuel and Oshada Wijemanne the number 4 seeds created probably the biggest upset in the tournament when they beat the top seed and tournament favourites Dmitry Ivanoa and Syrym Adbukhalikov of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals of the boys' doubles event. Having won the first set 3/6, the Central Asian pair looked set to win the match quite comfortably. However, Emmanuel and Wijemanne had other ideas as they fought back to claim the second set in their favour at 6/4. Having won the second set the Sri Lankan pair looked more confident, while the top seeded Central Asian pair looked rattled at the sudden change of events. The Sri Lankan pair raced to a comfortable lead of 5/2 in the third set, with Emmanuel playing a very aggressive role, while his partner Wijemanne playing consistently.

Then misfortune struck the Sri Lankan's as the Central Asian pair kept winning game after game due to many errors by the Sri Lankan pair, especially Emmanuel who attempted to make many winners from the baseline.

Emmanuel and Wijemanne had four match points at 5/4, but were unable to win the game. At 6/6, tie-break the Sri Lankan pair once again proved their superiority as they outclassed thier opponents to win the tie-break at 7/2. In the finals Dutta Anushmann of India and Niazi Khan of Pakistan beat Emmanuel and Wijemanne 6/4, 6/3.

In the singles play-off Amrith Rupasinghe did well to beat the more fancied Franklyn Emmanuel 6/3, 6/0 to take 5th place. Emmanuel was placed 6th, while N.S. Nishendiran 7th place.

In the girls' singles Sanna Bambri of India took sweet revenge from top seed Kartiki Bhat also of India 2/6, 6/4, 6/4 in the final. In the first tournament Bhat beat Bambri in the final.

After the match a relieved Bambri said, "I came out to win and had decided to fight to the end."

In the girls' singles event at the second tournament young Sanki Dandeniya of Sri Lanka was placed 11th in the girls' event when she beat Israt Sultana of Bangladesh. Sri Lanka's top girls player Jancy Paramanathan was placed 13th.

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