White coat gentry cut another niche - Asoka heads Colombo umpires branch

By M. Shamil Amit

Veteran umpire K.T. Francis addressing the gathering. (Pic by Ranjith Perera)
Asoka de Silva the only member of the Elite ICC panel from Sri Lanka at present was elected the first president of the newly formed Colombo branch of the Association of Cricket Umpires Sri Lanka (ACUSL) at their inaugural annual general meeting held recently.

Prominent umpires of the ICC international panel namely T.H. Wijewardena, Kumar Dharmasena along with Gamini Silva, Dushantha Ekanayake, Sagara Gallage and K.K. Jayaweera are the vice presidents while Ranmore Martinesz is the treasurer.

Maurice De la Zilva who was elected the secretary speaking at a press briefing held at the Burgher Recreation Club premises on Friday stated that the aim of the Colombo branch is to bring in professionalism among the umpires which is lacking now.

He further stressed that their aim was to take the standard of umpiring to greater heights. He said “We are confident that we could achieve this goal as we have raked in the cream of umpires available in Sri Lanka”.
He emphasized that the present membership of the newly formed branch is in the region of over 60. The forming of the separate branch was in need as in other districts like Kalutara, Gampaha, Gampola and Kandy have their own branches.

“We want to bring in professionalism by updating all tournament organizers on the latest playing conditions, thereby ensuring that all tournaments are conducted under similar playing conditions”. De la Siva added “Prior to each tournament we will together with the tournament organizers educate the captains and coaches along with the teams on the playing conditions.

We are doing this because some of the main organizers such as Mercantile Cricket Association, State Services and the Schools Association have complained that the umpiring standards have deteriorated which is not good for the game.

“Priority will be given to improve the standard of cricket in the schools, which all know is no doubt the cradle for cricket in the country. The branch will also strive to contribute to the development of cricket in the rural areas and needy schools by way of special packages designed by the membership.

Apart from that we have planned to conduct training sessions for all our members on laws and the latest umpiring techniques. These sessions will be conducted by three of Sri Lanka’s top umpires, veteran K.T. Francis, B.C. Cooray and Udaya Wickremasinghe”.

The trio has volunteered to give their services towards our cause. They will also be involved in the recruitment of new umpires. The main idea behind this is to support young cricketers who leave school to involve themselves in the game further. “Some of the critics have wrong impressions about the umpires and we have come forward to support and give back our experience” said veteran umpire K.T. Francis who has been involved as a umpire for nearly four decades.

“That’s why I thought of being a part of this branch. This is not a breakaway branch as some might think but a branch with ideas to uplift the standard of umpiring.

“Two other veteran umpires B.C. Cooray and Udaya Wickremasinghe have joined me and we will give of our best. The standard of umpiring in other countries has improved leaps and bounds.”

In conclusion veteran Francis stressed that their idea was to rectify the shortcomings in this area in Sri Lanka.

For assignments the Colombo branch is contactable on 0777-590647 or 0785-109372 or on email – or
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