cricket needs a complete overhaul
The year 2002 is one of the saddest chapters in the annals
of Sri Lanka cricket after the country gained ICC status in 1981.
There are many factors that brought about this downward trend. The
game reached the Everest when the little Lankans outplayed the mighty
Australians to win the World Cup final in Lahore under Arjuna Ranatunga.
Later, it fell apart due to a power-struggle by interested parties
due to political machinations to hold office at all cost at the
expense of the game.
some quarters even some players joined the band wagon infiltrating
into the administration, instead of concentrating on the game. Their
idea was to enrich themselves with material gains. It was brought
about due to a weak management, who lacked commitment or a professional
approach. It's the main cause for most of the present ills. At times
this has led the game to be played in the portals of the Hulftsdorp
rather than on the playing field.
The player performances
in the recent past is an eye-sore winning an odd one-day series
here and there. Imagine in the recent Test series in S. Africa,
the Lankans lost the first Test at Wanderers under three days despite
their world records. A performance bordering to minnows Bangladesh.
Where is the consistency in the established game ?We got thrashed
by England at home and then away in the Test series. We won against
Pakistan 2-1, but lost ( at home) 2-0. We beat the Indian team at
home 2-1. Lost 2-nil to (S. Africa) the Test series and the one-dayers
4-1 despite the super stars in action. Their pathetic performances
continue in the ongoing VB Triangular series". Their performances
shocked people like Dr. Ali Bacher, presently the CEO of the World
Cup organizing committee and other knowledgeable critics despite
the Lankans oozing with rich talent, they are performing dismally.
Like in other
countries does the under-privileged get an opportunity of playing
regularly in competitive cricket barring a few, who migrate to the
affluent clubs in the city for personal gains? Where is the exposure
as found in S. Africa. They are all assistance to get the much needed
exposure. Youth players, Robin Peterson and Zondi are some of them.
The district cricketers play an odd match here and there. Where
is the continuity and support for them?
Discipline, leadership, and management in any walk of life
is a 'must'. They are the main pillars of success. Sri Lanka cricket
is on the correct path, but requires professional management and
the ones who have the know-how to run its affairs, but not mere
figure heads. The former president of the Indian Cricket Board,
The Maharaja of Baroda, said, he was impressed with the Lankan schoolboys
playing when he visited Sri Lanka for the annual Indo-Ceylon schools
The likes of
Duleep Mendis, Sunil Wettimuny, Jagath Fernando, Ray de Silva, Bandula
Warnapura etc., came into limelight. What happened to that much
looked forward to annual contest today? Apparently there are quite
a number of them in the schools section hanging on for reasons best
known to them. The Maharaja said, this was one of my suggestions
during his tenure with the BCCI to continue playing with Sri Lanka.
It was the likes
of late P 'Sara', Robert Senanayake etc., who worked ungrudgingly
for the Lankans to gain ICC status. While late Gamini Dissanayake
put the icing on the cake for the Lankans to be admitted to the
ICC in 1981. The game took a turn after the first Test (inaugural)
in 1982 here. It took an upward trend in '84 with a professional
management with several hands joining to help the game to reach
greater horizons. The Lankans had the Englishmen running for shelter
when Sidat Wettimuny, Duleep Mendis, Amal Silva and others displayed
abundant skills. The team was coached by Stanley Jayasinghe. 'Lord'
Ted Dexter was the advisor.
That team was
the pride of Sri Lanka barring the '96 World Cup match final winning
team. It opened the gates for other ICC member teams to take note
of Sri Lanka's capabilities. What has happened today is power struggle
has ruined the game. 1984 was the "Red Letter Year" for
Lankan cricket sans petty politics in sport.
Two of the most
successful captains Duleep Mendis and Arjuna Ranatunga must be drafted
to the main-stream. Arjuna's removal from the captaincy, too had
its side effects.
All made mistakes
due to greed, lust and hatred. Supporters of the game must bury
the hatchet and work in unison for a common objective that, too
with a disciplined and professional management. They must re-build
the country's cricketing image, which at present has hit a new-low.
The men that matter should hold office from whatever quarter.
of the admin., must be elevated to the levels of the TCCB (England)
ACB (Australia), the UCBSA (S. Africa) etc., and handled by men
of ability. Part-timers have no place. Shun club rivalry and personal
loyalties which is the bane of most of the problems in this country.
With the present elective process its doubly difficult to get the
correct men to run its affairs. There is so much of lobbying no
person with ability, who still has the time, will stand for a contest.
Let's have team of 15 and five on standby to make it 20 handled
by a competent committee. No one should be allowed to hang on for
too long. Let there be an interim committee for a longer duration
to administer without outside interference.
It is given
to understand a letter to this effect has been sent to the powers
that be for consideration and for necessary action. Put the country
before self. The agony has been going on for quite some time.
Nandasena Junior Champion
of Nestles moved into the Golf scene to sponsor the nursery conducted
by the Sri Lanka Golf Union at the recently concluded Championship.
Muthum Nandasena performed outstandingly to be crowned the Junior
Champion of Sri Lanka.
The cubby son
of maestro Nandasena Perera gave his injury-stricken father good
cheer with a resounding victory comprising three rounds of 81 each.
The wiz kid plays off a handicap of 8 and had been quite impressive
in recent months playing in very competitive company in the "A"
Division. Coming behind Nandasena to take 2nd place was W. Bandara
beaten by 11 storks.
Little Arvind Fernando, son of Tennis ace Arjun Fernando performed
superbly showing much promise to win the Copper Division comfortably,
coming behind was another attractive stroke player Scahin Unamboowe,
grandson of the sports giant of yesteryear Stanley Unamboowe.
Sprightly Saakya Ukwatte moved leisurely oozing with confidence
to win the Bronze Trophy and also be identified as the overall winner.
A. Mansoor, a bold and beautiful player is a stylist. He tied with
There was a small crop of talented fellas made up of Channaka
Perera, A. Fernandopulle, S. Gunawardena, P. Dias and S. Sangani.
They need to be watched and nursed with enthusiasm and the Golf
Union should encourage this contest at least every quarter while
MILO provides the energy.
The absolute pride of Scotland Chivas Regal came in for much
acclaim when they sponsored a quick contest for the beverage of
world fame in 4 divisions at the Ridgeways of the Royal Colombo
Unbelievably Mithun Nandasena, the teenager outshone a strong
competitive field to win the "A" Division classic beating
Chaminda Galagedera was exceptionally good with nett 68 and
he happily collected the title and a bottle of the Regal Blend.
Bandula Weerasinghe who was at incessant practice was in absolute
distress beaten by one stroke.
Dhevan Pieris was outstanding in this division with a remarkably
good score of nett 66. He collected the award, cracked a bottle
and celebrated exhaustingly. M. Hiroyame came behind with 69.
The ceremony was brisk and crisp packed with Trophies and bottles
Attractive Yasmin Mishara adorned the evening session and gave away
the awards. Anil Panagoda the Wooden Spoonist collected a crate
of gold embossed CHIVAS
The contest was quite popular and there was a rush for participation.
The disaster zone was packed to capacity and the pond boys were
lavishly compensated by a mass of erring golfers.
generation of youth champions
By M. Shamil Amit
Year 2002 has been the most successful one for the SLTA
where the outstaion youngsters too showed that they are also capable
of flexing their muscles with better players in the metropolis.
This year will also be remembered as the year that produced the
youngest men's singles winner in the 87 year history of the national
championships when a young fifteen year old from Royal College Franklin
Emmanuel ousted defending champion Renouk Wijemanne.
The year could
be termed as the "Year of the Youth" as tennis was dominated
by the youth. Two schoolgirls Jancy Paramanathan of Holy Family
Convent and Mahesha Seneviratne of Bishop's College took the national
women's doubles title overcoming experienced and long standing champions
Shalini Pereira and Chaya Beiling. Jancy was unfortunate in losing
the singles title.
achievements in the year 2002 saw Sri Lanka's two junior players
make impressive performances at two international tournaments. Fifteen
year old Amrit Rupasinghe of St. Thomas Kollupitiya won the singles
title in the ITF Under 18 championships held in Colombo in September.
Two weeks later sixteen year old Harshana Godamane of Royal College
won the singles title in the ITF Under 18 championship which was
held in Islambad, Pakistan. Over 50 players from over 12 countries
participated at these tournaments. The last time a Sri Lankan won
a singles title overseas was in the late 80's through the talented
The Sri Lanka
Under 14 boys team also put an impressive performance when they
were placed fifth at the Under 14 World Juniors (Asia/Oceanic) Championship
held in Colombo from 15 countries finishing behind tennis giants
India, Australia, Korea and China. Sri Lanka's team comprised Franklin
Emmanuel, Emmanuel Nishendran and Udith Wickremasinghe. It provided
evidence of a bright future for the country's tennis.
Nishendran also did proud when they had the honour of being selected
to represent the five year player ITF team at the East Asian Championship
in Malaysia. The Sri Lanka duo also represented the five player
ITF team in four European tournaments in France, Germany, Holland
and Belgium. It showed how they benefited from this overseas exposure
as Emmanuel clinched the national title soon after this overseas
At the Junior
Davis Cup tournament held in Indonesia, Sri Lanka represented by
Amrit Rupasinghe, Oshada Wijemanne and S. Sabanathan did well to
finish eighth out of seventeen countries. Sri Lanka defeated Philippines
and Iran but could not get the better of Asian giants Japan and
in finishing eighth they were ahead of countries like New Zealand,
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines and Thailand who are all group two
Davis Cup nations. The SLTA's president Suresh Subramaniam's aim
next year is to graduate to group three from the present position
of four in the Davis Cup. The players are there to achieve this
aim. And the ultimate target is to be in group two by the year 2004.
This year has been a significant stepping stone towards achieving
Mini tennis programme organized by the SLTA which has won the praise
of the ITF who has intiated these programmes in all the Asian countries
with the intention of popularising tennis on a global level is another
successful story. This programme which is for school children between
5 to 10 years and is in operation in seven regions namely Colombo,
Kandy, Negombo, Bandarawela, Ratnapura, Panadura and Batticaloa.
It has a massive
enrollment of 40,000 youngsters from 45 schools. A development officer
has been appointed by the SLTA for each region who in turn is supervised
by a national coordinator. Four more regions Jaffna, Galle, Matara
and Kurunegala are earmarked for next year. The programme has been
an instant success and has been rewarded with two awards by the
ITF. The entire programme is financed by SLTA as we think
the future of our tennis lies in this programme said Arjan
Perera, vice president, SLTA who is also the chairman of coaching
and promotion. This year Ratnapura won the All Island mini tennis
tournament which included Colombo.
in the history of SLTA's development work had they spent as much
as the year 2002.The total amounted to Rs. Ten milion by far the
biggest they had managed in many, many years. All expense and the
effort put in is shows good signs for the future. The major backers
of tennis this year has been Mirinda, Peop;es Bank, Sri Lankan Airlines,
Jembo Cables and Aggreko.
With 2002 at
its tail end the SLTA are already gearing itself for a challenging
2003. The ITF has awarded SLTA with the task of hosting eight international
tournaments beginning January 2003 which includes three US$ 10,000
Futures Championship a World Ranking women's tournament and the
10 nation Davis Cup (Group 4) championship.
Twenty-six-year-old Ravindra Pushpakumara, the strongly built medium
fast bowler with 58 Test scalps in 20 Tests is being overlooked
by the national selectors. Ravindra, a raw paceman who came into
limelight whilst playing for Panadura SC is one of the best young
prospects to come from the District.
The lad emerged
from a scrapheap, and later blossomed out to be a gangling fast
bowler, thanks to former Secretary of the Cricket Board, Neil Perera,
who helped him. Today he plays for the NCC in the Premier Tournament
and performing reasonably well. According to a senior official of
the NCC, how come Tilan Thushara, a young paceman who can't find
a place in the regular place in the club team was preferred to go
with the national team in their recent S. African tour? The NCC's
pace trio comprise Ishara Amerasinghe (who toured England), Ravindra
Pushpakumara, the experienced fast bowler and Akalanka Gamage.
On what basis
was Thushara picked for the S.A. tour? The lad hardly got a bowl
on that tour, but returned home after enjoying a pre-paid holiday
at BCCSL expense, after the two-Test series. Pushpakumara is not
even in the 'A' squad put aside in the national team. The selectors
go abroad to watch when the Lankan team is on tour, but doesnt
have the time to watch domestic cricket.
was kept in the cold for the 1999-2000 tour of Pakistan. He got
an opportunity to play and bowled with much fire and venom. This
scribe was on tour. He impressed. Even the ardent Pakistan fans
were asking where he was kept all this time. Pushpa's bowling may
be wayward at times, then what is the bowling coach doing? Certainly
he could have been a better bet than some of the fast bowlers, who
got the nod to go on the S. African tour. Where is the continuity
for this bowler, who had still a few more years of cricket before
him? Despite setbacks he is working hard at the nets regularly,
to be in trim.- BW