Leave the curator alone
By Bernie Wijesekera
The preparation of cricket pitches is a specialist's job, not meant for amateurs or for interested parties to win at all cost. The P. 'Sara' Stadium has many firsts in the willow wielding sport.

The inaugural test between Sri Lanka and England was staged here, after the country gained ICC status in 1981. The head grounds-woman was Mariamma. Today she is a legend in the country's cricket history. Last year for the first time a test match between Pakistan and Australia was played on a (neutral venue) at the P. 'Sara'.

The preparation was handled by the Tamil Union curator and came in for high praise by both teams. No one interfered with the preparation neither the ICC, nor the host nation Pakistan. But one pundit now turned a consultant tried to belittle the local curator that it was prepared with the assistance of a Pakistani curator. In the end had to eat his own words. The Aussies won the game under Steve Waugh. But Shoaib Akthar, the 'Rawalpindi Express', was the showpiece.

After a long lay-off the Tamil Union (P. 'Sara') was afforded with the first Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Of course the preparation of the pitch was handled by the Cricket Board curator, who supervised its preparation. It was quite good with a tinge of grass for an even contest. The official curator had stint with Tony Ware, Aussie curator at the MCG (Victoria). He was satisfied with the preparation.

But in its wake the 'Mr. Know Alls' drawn from the C.B., some players and apparently selectors intervened. They insisted that the pitch be shaved again. It was done. But still insisted on another shave, which even embarrassed the official curator for this unwarranted interference. He was disgusted, but was helpless.

Ware, the competent MCG curator, who works with his professional team works without let or hindrance. Had the opportunity of meeting him in one of Sri Lanka's tours Down Under. In the end their strategy to outplay the young Kiwi team sans seniors backfired. The much look forward to cracks failed to appear for the spinners to exploit. The local bowlers were made to look mediocre, barring 'Work Horse' Chaminda Vaas, who bowled his heart out. He regularly probed the Kiwi batsmen, despite bowling on a flat pitch.

Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming gritty left-hander, led the run chase for his team to pile on a tall score. He made 274 n.o., and 69 n.o., had no problem in handling 'Murali's' wiles. In the end he agreed to a question, that on any pitch with better technique one could counter the bowlers. In the end 'Murali' had more roasties on his spinning fingers. It was only on the final day that the worn out pitch started turning. But a lost cause.

Sri Lanka captain Hashan Tillekeratne, "The Rock of Gibralter" matched his vis-a-vis with a stubborn 136. The Lankan top-order, too was among the runs, but still fell short of the Kiwi total by 32 runs. According to sources it was suggested that the venue be shifted to the Galle Esplanade. The Lankans have met with much success there and in turn 'Murali' has reaped a rich harvest of wickets.

Had the pundits left the curator along - this pitch could have been a result-oriented one. Under-prepared and a slow pitches at home is not going to help develop the game. The batsmen must learn to play on tracks fast and with even bounce. The local pacemen given the opportunity could have bowled with much fire. Away from home, they will be all at sea. In the Wanderers Test in S. Africa, in the last tour the match was over under three days.

The former Minister of Sports, Lakshman Kiriella, afforded the Cricket Board with fast tracks at the R. Premadasa Stadium. Apparently the players refused to practice on them saying that it was, too dangerous. Thereby failed to prepare ahead. This even surprised Kiriella. This attributes to weak management all round, when players have their own way.

Thomian Fun Motor Rally

S. Thomas' College Mt Lavinia are making arrangements to hold a PTA Fun Motor Rally on May 10 2003. The rally will cover 50 kilometres which will begin from the school premises at Mt Lavinia and scheduled to end at the Villa Ocean View Hotel in Wadduwa. The rally is scheduled to be flagged off at 8.30 a.m.

The participants will be given the route on the day of the rally with instructions on what to do. They have the option of carrying the brand or products of their sponsors on their vehicles. The number of entries will be restricted to 75 vehicles and the first ten to finish the route will receive prizes and a prize will be awarded to the best decorated vehicle.

Further details regarding the rally could be obtained from Shamitha Karunaratne (641309), Geethika Perera (0777-321699), K. Amarasinghe (645230), Sonali Thahir (884320) or Shakila Marjan (724116)-MSA

Thilanga vs Arjuna clash at Cricket Board elections?
By Marlon Fernandopulle
The much talked about and eagerly awaited Cricket Board Elections has been finally scheduled for June 6 at the Sports Ministry Auditorium and under the supervision of the Director General of Sports Milton Amarasinghe. Nominations for all posts will be received from May 8 to 13 during working hours as laid down by the regulations.

The last elections to the CB was held nearly three years ago and was marred by ugly incidents that saw some shameful and disgraceful events at the CB Headquarters. In that instance Thilanga Sumathipala and Clifford Ratwatte were the leading candidates for the Cricket Board President.

It is believed that Thilanga Sumathipala, a past President of the CB and former Sri Lanka Captain Arjuna Ranatunga are the potential candidates for the hot seat. Both personalities have publicly spoken against having Interim Committees and have also indicated their desire to serve as the Cricket Board President.

They are expected potential candidates to finalize their respective teams this week before handing in their nominations next week. Although it is early to predict the winner it is certain that if Sumathipala and Ranatunge contests the elections will be very closely contested.

Tickets for the Olympic Games in Greece
The next Olypmpic Games are scheduled to be held in Athens, Greece in August 2004.

Tickets to witness the various events in these Games could be booked at the National Olympic Committee office at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, Colombo. Bookings will be accepted upto 31st May 2003.

Those interested could obtain further details from the NOC by either writing to them or telephoning them at 471067 or 471068.

Weekend Cricket in Dambulla
Sports has been a big boost to promote Sri Lanka's cultural heritage and scenic beauty in this little Isle of Paradise. In its wake has been able to get that much needed exchange to fill the country's coffers. With cricket follows, the cricket fans. There were fans aplenty when the England cricket team visited Sri Lanka in 2001. The hotels down South and in the Hill Capital were crowded to capacity. The then Minister of Sports and Tourism Lakshman Kiriella, left no stone unturned to make it a roaring success.

The year 2003, the start of the domestic international cricket season, the Kiwis are here (New Zealand) joined by Pakistan for the triangular series which will start at the Rangiri International Cricket Stadium starting on May 10.

The beautiful Rangiri Stadium surrounded by its scenic beauty will afford the fans and their families to enjoy watching cricket and a weekend for relaxation, in ideal conditions.

Target Travels is on target. They have planned 'Catch the Cricket Action' live for those fans, who like to watch cricket for both foreign and locals to enjoy a unique experience, religious, cultural and scenic beauty in this agricultural district.

According to Bandula de Silva, the Director - Target a subsidiary of Ranfer Tea Shop has organised this package for everyone to take this opportunity at a reasonable target. They will be accommodated at Dambulu Oya Family Park and Namala Resort. Those desirous of making it could contact Bandula de Silva or may contact Sanjeewani - 686805/6 or 077-6026078 for further details.

May 10 - Sri Lanka Vs Pakistan, 11 - Pakistan Vs New Zealand. Last match 13 - Sri Lanka Vs New Zealand. The weather should be fine over there.

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