a stumbling block for Asian Grand Prix
Asian Athletic Association offers 2nd leg to Sri Lanka
By M. Shamil Amit
With the SARS virus playing havoc in most Asian countries the Sri
Lanka Athletics Association and the Sports Ministry are leaving
no stone unturned in the preparation for the Asian Grand Prix scheduled
to start from May 28 in Hyderabad. This will be the first leg of
the four leg event to be held this year.
leg will be held in Sri Lanka (June 1), third leg in Thailand (June
5) and the last leg in the Philippines (June 9). Speaking at a press
briefing held at the Lanka Oberoi Minister of Sports Johnston Fernando
stressed that Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity of conducting
the second at the Sugathadasa Stadium on June 1. "This has
been offered to us by the Asian Athletics Association for having
successfully conducted the Asian Athletics Championships in Colombo
last year" ,said the Sports Minister.
further said at the moment the SARS virus is a bit of a stumbling
block, but assured that all precautions will be taken to conduct
this special event which will be held for the first time in Sri
Lanka. "We will do our best and see that the event will take
place", he assured adding that the government will do everything
possible to host the event.
going ahead with our plans. We have also been successful in getting
some sponsors and at present Sri Lankan Airlines, Dankotuwa Porcelain,
BT Option and Lanka Oberoi, who will be official hotel, have come
forward. Winfield Advertising are the promoters of this event while
Rupavahini will telecast the event live. The minister said that
they hoped to get more sponsors and also the ministry of sports
and the government will be backing the event all the way.
of the AAA said that since this is a unique event in the local athletics
calendar, all athletes arriving from the respective destinations
will be thoroughly scrutinised and the AAA has taken the necessary
steps regarding this. "We have the clearance and the full support
from the Health Ministry too.
They will deploying
their officials at the BIA, Katunayake and will be working together
with the NOC officials. Hemasiri Fernando chairman of the National
Olympic Committee and chairman of Airport Aviation Authority said
that the officials have been given the necessary training and the
instructions and will leave no stone unturned to identify the virus.
We will be bringing down a Thermal Imaging Scanner to screen all
arriving to the airport in a few days time.
part in this event are the best in the Asian region and selected
by the AAA on the performance of these athletes at the Asian Athletics
Championships in Colombo and the Asian Games in Korea. Sri Lanka
will be represented by Susanthika Jayasinghe, Damayanthi Darsha,
Sugath Tillekaratne, Rohana Pradeep Kumara and Sriyani Kulawansa.
will take part in all the four legs while Manjula Kumara will be
the reserve. He was not considered for selection as he is under
training in USA. All host countries of the four legs will be given
the option of fielding more athletes. The events to be held in this
three hour programme (5.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.) will be the (Men's)
100m, 400m, 800m,110m hurdles, high jump, long jump, discuss, javelin
and 4x100m. (Women's) 100m, 300m, 800m, 100m hurdles, long jump,
shott putt and 4x100m.
The relay events
are being held for the first time. Over 175 athletes are expected
to participate at these events and they will be leaving to the respective
countries to all the events. The cost for the Sri Lanka event is
estimated at Rs. 8 million. Handsome prizes are awaiting the winners
with cash prizes of US$ 3000, US$ 1250 and US$ 500 being offered
to the first three. The AAA will be in charge of the athletes travelling
expense and prize money. The awarding of the prize money will take
place at the completion of the last leg in the Philippines.
It was a big yawn
The reason for a five-day game of cricket between two nations to
be called a "Test" match is because it is expected to
test all the skills of the game, by those who are playing. The top
order batsman, the middle order batsman, the lower order batsman,
the quick bowlers, the medium pace - seam bowlers, the spinners,
the fielders, the wicket keeper and captain should all display their
skills within the presently allocated five hundred overs of play.
becoming a dying sport in the nineteen sixties and early nineteen
seventies. The advent of one-day cricket, the Packer revolution
and the advent of TV coverage world wide, gave the game a whole
new lease of life.
brand of cricket that was played in the shorter version became contagious
and batsmen in particular started taking a different approach to
test cricket. That was not enough. The pitch had to give assistance
to the bowlers, to capture close on forty wickets to produce a result.
the first hour of the game a crystal ball was not required to predict
a high swirling draw unless one team played very poor cricket. It
was also necessary for fielders to hold onto every chance and even
the half chances to lift the bowlers. It did not happen and the
Sri Lankans offended much more than their opponents.
staff had gone about their business to prepare a reasonably firm
pitch with an adequate covering of grass for a five-day match. They
were instructed by the Sri Lankan cricketing hierarchy to shave
off all the grass! With the surface not being very hard and the
present hot conditions drying out all the moisture it turned out
to be a "nothing" pitch.
On day one
there was some bounce but it was irregular and the slowness made
it difficult for both batsman and bowlers. Day three was about the
best, when the ball came somewhat onto the bat. When it did spin
it was slow or had to bounce on the rough. This did not pose too
many problems for those who wielded the willow. Even the best, Muttiah
Muralitharan, toiled and toiled and toiled for minor rewards.
The two captains
ground the opposition bowlers to fatigue. Stephen Fleming found
a place for himself in the New Zealand record books. Hashan Tillekaratne
was also associated in a first, scoring a century on debut as captain.
skills were not tested, as the game took its course to a destined
draw. What is important is that he must look to be positive and
breed an attacking confident approach amongst the team. He does
not have a demonstrative and vibrant personality on the field, so
it must be up with the implementation of sound practical moves at
The plus point
for Sri Lanka was the showing off of Kaushal Lokuarachchy. Still
very young for a spin bowler to enter the international cricket
world, he was not overawed by the occasion. Naturally there were
signs of nerves when he bowled in the first innings, but after he
batted confidently to knock-up 28 not out, he was much at ease and
bowled very well the second time.
is that Upul Chandana should play in the one-day team, should a
leg spinner be required. Lokuarachchy, must be nurtured over the
next two years, where he can learn all the variations of leg spin
bowling and then implement them with confidence. It is in the longer
game that it can be done.
As the series
moves on to Asgiriya it is hoped that the players can display all
their skills and it will be a worthwhile "test" of international
not revive Indo-Lanka athletic meet?
By Bernie Wijesekera
The Indo-Sri Lanka track and field dual contest should be revived,
with a view to give the much needed exposure and competition - specially
to our young emerging athletes to be in contention, said K.L.F.
Wijedasa, the former University of Ceylon, Public Schools athlete,
who later turned administrator and coach. He was a live-wire of
CT and FC. He coached Ananda and Royal and helped the youngsters
to go places in track and field sports.
interviewed by The Sunday Times, when he attended the Sports Medicine
Seminar for fitness for executives held at the Hilton Hotel last
week-end. He said, it should do well that the A.A.A. take note of
this - even to hold a Jnr. Indo-Sri Lanka meet and even suggested
a SAF Juniors championship be staged to give that much-needed exposure
to the young athletes in the region. This will give depth to the
sport and be prepared when the seniors get burnt out to take their
Sri Lanka athletes
have made a name in the international scene in the past due to planning
by the officials and total commitment by the athletes concerned
even with their own resources. In the past the Public Schools meet
was the nursery to harness talent.
may send a few juniors for an international contest now and then
- in a haphazard manner. There should be a proper calendar for the
juniors to work in preparation - even on their own.
does not make a Summer" - Yes. There should be dual contests
against neighbours India, which is not all that expensive. The Sri
Lankan Airlines who are helping sports at national level could assist
the A.A.A. - even with rebated tickets, two other countries who
could be considered is Thailand and Malaysia. Both nations - the
standard is quite high at junior level.
and field sport is mostly dominated by rural athletes. But they
need regular competition. Forget about other issues focus in the
promotion of the sport, he said. The first Indo-Ceylon meet was
held in May 1940, led by A.C.W. Obeysekera. This team included Duncan
White, R.E. Kitto, Upali Gunaratne, Bertie Wijesinghe (who also
played cricket for Sri Lanka). In '46, A.C. Dep captained a team
which had the likes of Summa Navaratnam, Duncan White etc.
In 1972 it
was held in Sri Lanka, led by Ranjit Weerasena, which team had S.L.B.
Rosa, W. Wimaladasa, K.G. Badra, Sunil Gunawardena, Kosala Sahabandu,
held in Colombo, Sri Lanka won by one point. In 1974, legendary
W. Wimaladasa led the team held in Chandigar.
The likes of
N. Ethirweerasingham, who created a new dimension by going over
six-foot bar regularly, was tagged as one of the best in Asia and
did proud for the country. Are you aware that there was Indo-Sri
Lanka Schools meet which was a much look forward to event. The last
was in 1968. But it fell on the wayside apparently due to lack of
funds by the Schools Section.
Now that the
SAF games to be held in Pakistan off due the holocaust in W. Asia
(Iraq). This is why it is suggested that a Jnr. SAF games, be organised
where all youth in the region will benefit. Via sports (especially
mass sports) could bring about understanding and reconciliation,
Lailth Athulathmudali, former President A.A.A. held this view. Facts
are stubborn - put aside other issues the former Minister of Sports
S.B. Dissanayake, did much for the promotion of track and field
sports in the country for the rural youth to enjoy a better tomorrow.
plight of rugby football in Sri Lanka
Recently many articles/observations have been made by knowledgeable
rugby enthusiasts about the state of this game in Sri Lanka and
where the blame can be apportioned for it's deterioration.
Let us look
at this problem dispassionately and practically. Rugby was the most
popular game in the 1960's to the 1980's. It even over shadowed
cricket. A weekend of rugby became a family outing with the young
girls and the not so young showing off their latest fashions. The
rugby dished out was a high class spectacle and the public was clamouring
to get a strategic place on the grounds to view the match.
top clubs had the grounds full with spectators. In fact, for games
of top billing like the CR Vs Havies and CR Vs CH attracted so many
people that the host Clubs used to sell tickets in advance on a
Tuesday or Wednesday of that weekend's match.
these games, we have only a handful of spectators. In fact, the
number of non members of the Club will total about 100 spectators
at the maximum. How has this situation been precipitated? It is
simply due to the imbalance in the strength of one Club and the
rest. From the time Kandy Sports Club went about head hunting in
Colombo and luring the best players in other clubs into their fold,
these other clubs have been struggling to produce a team to match
Kandy Sports Club. In fact KSC can produce a second string which
can probably defeat any of the Colombo Clubs.
was brought about by the introduction of professionalism to rugby,
where the players were selling themselves to the highest bidder.
The love of the sport, loyalty to the Club and colleagues were all
forgotten. The spectators were deprived of the spectacle that was
rugby. Now the games are drab. The only team that can provide entertainment
for the spectators is KSC. However, since most KSC games are one
sided, other than the KSC supporters, the rest of the public do
not watch these matches. R.J.Samuel
Dias get cricket scholarships
Two promising future young prospects, Wesley College all-rounder
Fazil Mahroof and Sandun Dias from St. Joseph's College has been
afforded with UK scholarships to play in England in the forthcoming
Bandula Warnapura Director Cricket Operations, its part of the CB
programme to give playing opportunities for the talented youngsters
to further improve their skills, whilst playing away from home.
have shown up well. Mahroof the lanky all-rounder has been a consistent
performer in this year's school cricket season. Sandun Dias, too
is an exciting young cricketer has been performing well for the
Joes. Both deserve this exposure. "Work horse" Chaminda
Vaas, has been a source of inspiration to the Josephian cricket
team by example and has helped them.
play for Stanmore CC, while Dias for Bessborugh CC. They left for
England on April 29 and will return in Sept. 2003. Last year (2002)
the U.K. committee headed by Dr. Daya Panithagunawardena and Asitha
Jayaweera an outstanding cricketer from Royal. Asitha has performed
with distinction. They provided with two scholarships to Sahan Wijeratne
and Dhammika Prasad to play in England. The scholarships for Mahroof
and Dias is afforded by the Cricket Board. (B.W.)
a great cricketer
By Krishantha Prasad
Today, Cricket has been ridiculed as the game of flannelled fools.
This was probably well deserved when it was the stodgy game that
came into this land in the baggage of Colonial rule. What is it
that 'Cricket' means to the average Sri Lankan of today?
ricket is for
us not a sport but a passion. It is played in the drawing rooms
of the affluent and the hovels of the poor. When the matches are
announced there is a wild scramble for places before TV sets; work
in Offices is reduced to snail's pace and no one is blamed for loitering
around TV sets either at Home or at workplaces.
The whole country
is in the grip of an obsession that pervades the entire social spectrum.
There seems to be nothing to equal the allure of cricket when 'our
boys' are playing in international matches.
have reached a position of fame and public affection that no politician
whatever their blandishments and wiles can ever hope to achieve.
Why is Cricket so important to young and old alike? The reason is
not far to seek. It is the only bright spot in an otherwise cheerless
The only prestige
that Sri Lanka has gained in our enlightened times is in the field
of Cricket. Our post Independence 'leaders' talk of the Utopia into
which they will lead us. They tell us to bear up any misfortunes
whether economic or political while they endure great privation
on our behalf.
and the frills and perks of Office they cheerfully endure seems
to suit them well while the country continues in its permanent state
of 'transition". Cricket however, came to our rescue. When
everything was bleak and all hope seemed to be lost New Hope was
seen on the horizon, thanks to the efforts of the late Gamini Dissanayake.
He jettisoned us into the big league and set us on the road to international
recognition for something other than Tea and Terrorism.
With Sri Lanka's
admission to Test Cricket status we shed our amateurism and embarked
on the long journey towards professional cricket. We began somewhat
timidly and watched with bated breaths as we scrambled to get a
team together that would stand up to the might of the celebrated
Windies or the less cavalier but more formidable Aussies and the
It did not take
long for us to hoist our pennant at the very forefront of world
class teams. The road to success was no fairy tale journey but one
of sweat and determination beset by pitfalls and traps. Most of
them motivated by treachery and envy after the BCCSL. came under
the sway of politicians and their henchmen to whom another avenue
of propaganda was thereby provided.
The game began
to lose its character as a gentleman's sport and acquired a sinister
and mercenary aspect. It took a few outstanding players to redeem
the image of Cricket and rescue it from the gutter. Among these
knights in shining armour was Aravinda de Silva.