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19th April 1998

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Breathtaking Arsenal set to win double

Blackburn, England, (Reuters) - Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was quick to dismiss his side's new status as favourites to win the premier league despite their superb performance against Blackburn. The Gunners destroyed the Lancashire side with a devastating first half display that had them 4-0 up at the break and were able to cruise home, despite Kevin Gallacher's second half reply. The win took Arsenal to within a point of leaders Manchester United with two games in hand. English bookmaker William Hill now rates them 2-7 to win the league (Manchester United 5-2) and 10-11 for the Double but the Frenchman laughed off the new odds. "Favourites has not a great meaning to me. It just means that it's a better position then two months ago," said Wenger. "Then people said we had no chance. Now we are favourites. We didn't consider their opinions two months ago and we won't do now. "People say we look like champions but champions are judged at the end of the season, and until then we may play like champions one day but like beginners on another. "I know my players are really confident. Now I have to make them focus on what lies ahead. Before this game we expected a difficult time but the quality we showed early on made it easy for us. We looked sharp, quick and took our chances. "To be 4-0 up was a dream before the game but it was great to see it as a reality."

Arsenal have won nine of their last 10 league games, conceding just two goals, but Wenger said he was unable to explain the red-hot form. "You have mysteries in football, sometimes it goes well and sometimes bad and you don't always know why." he said.

"The new signings have settled in well. We have kept the spirit of the English game but blended in the foreign players." One man well qualified to judge the relative merits of the two title hopefuls is Blackburn boss Roy Hodgson, who has seen his team lose at home to both within the last eight days.

Manchester United needed a gutsy second-half fightback to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 victory last week whereas Arsenal swept into a 3-0 lead within just 14 minutes on Monday. "We were kind to both United and Arsenal, but we were slightly kinder to Arsenal," said Hodgson, whose own team have fallen away dramatically on the back of a run of seven defeats in the last nine games.

"One side took their points comfortably, one had a lot more trouble, but I think they are both very good sides. "This is one of the games in hand that could have posed problems and this was one United thought Arsenal might come unstuck on but they won it," he added.

Turning to his own side, now down to sixth in the standings, Hodgson admitted he was worried that they were throwing away their chances of gaining a European place. "We've had a very bad spell this year.

I would say 98 has been as bad for us as 97 was good. "But we are in this together and we must ensure we don't destroy all the good work from the start of the season and destroy all the hopes we deservedly built up. "But we are not going to give up until our chances of a UEFA place have gone." Reuters

Warne on line for an inevitable surgery

Sydney, (Reuters) - Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne said he was resigned to undergoing a shoulder operation that could rule him out of a three-test series in Pakistan later this year.

Warne will play against India and New Zealand in a limited overs tournament, which starts on Friday in Sharjah, before returning home for immediate exploratory surgery during the off-season. "Obviously it's a last resort. I don't want an operation but I'll have to have it," Warne told the Australian Associated Press news agency.

"Hopefully they will just need to scrape a few things out but I think it might be a bit worse, we'll just have to wait and see." Warne sustained ligament damage in his right shoulder while fielding during a limited overs international against Zimbabwe in India.

Team physiotherapist Errol Alcott has said Warne could be sidelined for more than four months if he has sustained tendon damage in the joint. Australia are scheduled to play three Test matches during a tour of Pakistan between late September and early November. Speaking to reporters in Dubai on his way to Sharjah, Warne said the injury was preventing him from throwing the ball while fielding. "I on't want to play the rest of my career not being able to bowl big leg breaks whenever I want, and I want to be able to throw again because I can't do that now," he said.

Warne said he had been troubled by shoulder soreness for the past 18 months, a problem that has required regular physiotherapy. "It's not ideal (playing in Sharjah) but the shoulder has been sore for 18 months and this problem has just made it a bit worse," he said. "There is so much cricket these days, however, that you just have to put up with injuries unless they are so bad you can't physically bowl." In May 1996, Warne underwent surgery on the fourth finger of his bowling hand to repair ligament damage. Reuters

'Team is perfect, we just need the extra edge', says Thorpe

London, (Reuters) - Graham Thorpe is looking for extra sharpness to England's play if they are to bounce back from their West Indies defeats with a winning performance in the coming series against South Africa. "The West Indies was a strange tour in many ways. We had high hopes before we went out there and we were far more competitive than the scorelines might suggest," he said on Wednesday. "We just need that extra edge to win games. The gap isn't that huge." The Surrey left-hander was one England's few success stories in the Caribbean, averaging 42.37 in the tests series with a top score of 103 in Barbados. But a back spasm there meant he had to return home early. "I have had plenty of work with the physio and have just been taking it easy." Now Thorpe is trying to put the disappointment of the Caribbean behind him and is looking forward confidently to the South African challenge. "They are another good side and in Allan Donald they have a world class bowler.

His great strength doesn't just lie in his pure speed, but in his accuracy and stamina. Crucially he also has a good ally in Shaun Pollock.

"Good quick bowlers tend to hunt in pairs and their ratings show they are one of the premier attacks in the world. "But I've always enjoyed the challenge of Test cricket and I'm looking forward to facing them." Thorpe's Surrey team mate, England opener Alec Stewart, is being rested from the county's two opening championship games and Thorpe thinks this is something that will happen to other England players before the season is over. "I definitely think that it's a good thing that Alec is being rested. He's given a lot of hard service to England and I think players are likely to be rested more and more throughout the season and who knows, it might even happen to me." Stewart, is the favourite to succeed Mike Atherton as England captain but Thorpe said he had not given up more modest leadership ambitions of his own. "I've never knocked myself out of the captaincy here at Surrey.

I did the job for five or six games before being recalled to England and it's something that would appeal to me in the future." Reuters

Barcelona rejects offer

Barcelona, (Reuters) - Barcelona have turned down an offer from AC Milan for Portuguese international goalkeeper Vitor Baia, Spanish newspapers said on Saturday. Baia was a regular for Barcelona after signing last season from Oporto but suffered an injury in the summer and has since been relegated to the bench by Dutchman Ruud Hesp. The sports daily Marca said the Italian club offered two billion pesetas ($13.1 million) for Baia, who is known to be a favourite of coach Fabio Capello.

Mansel and Hemas win table tennis, shuttle titles

Mansel (Ceylon) Ltd and Hemas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. emerged mens Badminton and Table Tennis champions respectively in the inaugural Pharma Promoters Association Indoor Games Tournament held at the S. Thomas' Indoor Stadium at Mount Lavinia.

The Mens Badminton Mansel team comprised Anil Nambuwasam and Suneth Rodrigo. Glazo Wellcome (Ceylon) Limited finished as runners up.

The Glaxo team comprised, Janaka Walisundera, Denzil Perera, Kingsley Alexander and T. Samandhon.

The Womens shuttle title was won by Nirosha Gamage of Mansel with Hanelore Baldsing of Hemas as runner up.

The Men's champion TT Team of Hemas Drugs comprised Thayagan de Cruse, Manil de Mel, Nalin Perera and Thushantha Karunanayake.

The runners up were Farnell (Ceylon) Ltd comprising Rainer Fernando, Asela Ariyaratne and Nalin Fernando.

Hannelore Baldsing of Hemas emerged the womens TT champion with team mate Yasintha Weeraratne as runner up.

Mahanama Dodampegama was the chief guest and gave away the awards.

Past cricketing greats are a forgotten lot

By Bernie Wijesekera

The newly elected Cricket Board Ex-Co headed by its President Thilanga Sumathipala should be lauded for appointing a three-member committee to give redress to the deserving Golden Oldies of Sri Lanka cricket, who did much for its development with their own men and material.

In the past these cricketers played as amateurs and there wasn't match money or professionalism unlike today where the Lankan cricketers are afforded money for representing the country, which they richly deserve.

But the past stalwarts, who made a great personal sacrifice to put the country's cricketing image in the international scene, are a forgotten lot today.

Imagine our cricketers going abroad to play benefit matches in our neighbouring countries to help their past greats in their hour of need. This should be commended. But they must realise that charity begins at home.

Among the cricket playing nations, their past cricketers are given their dues with financial back-up to make their lives a comfortable one to the end. Unlike here the elders be they sportsmen or otherwise are hardly afforded with facilities to lead a decent life. One can't forget their parents in their old age.

Today's cricketers are beneficiaries of the Cricketers Benefit Fund, started in Sharjah. But one must make it a point to help the have-nots, who are struggling for existence.

No point talking and making overtures after they have gone, but help them when they are alive commented a past great, who did proud to the country at home and abroad.

Two great stalwarts, who played a decisive role for the country - Vernon Prins, who sacrificed his entire life for the game - a prince among Sri Lanka cricketers. The other personality is Ivers Gunasekera, a great all-rounder, who was highly rated by Keith Miller for his batting exploits. Today the duo lead a quiet life. The duo never made money out of this gentleman's game, even as cricket coaches. There are many others, but these two get top billing.

The present senior Vice-President of the BCCSL Abu Fuard, who prefers to call a spade a spade has played in the company of these past forgotten heroes, is sure to make a strong case to give quick relief and expedite their cause.

The three-member committee is chaired by Michael Tissera and the other two members are Ranjith Fernando and Harold de Andrado.

Don Bradman is still in good spirits

Adelaide, (Reuters) - It was cricket's most famous delivery and 50 years ago it shattered Australian batsman Arthur Morris's hopes of a final great partnership with Don Bradman. Morris, who went on to score 196 in the last test of the 1948 Australian tour of England, watched in disbelief from the other end as leg spinner Eric Hollies bowled the world's most prolific batsman for nought in his final test innings.

And while Bradman's second-ball duck became part of cricketing folklore, Morris' sparkling performance has been almost forgotten. "I think if Hollies bowled him today he would have done four cartwheels and been kissed by every member of the side," Morris told Reuters at a reunion bringing together nine of the 11 surviving squad members. "But the only reaction I remember was someone saying 'well done Eric, jolly good show,'". Bradman had needed only four runs to end his test career with an average of 100 when he went out to bat in the fifth and final test at the Oval. An expectant crowd packed the ground in south London and the English gave their tormentor of the previous 20 years three rousing cheers as he walked to the middle. But the expected onslaught never materialised as Bradman was bowled by Hollies' second ball googly, leaving him with an agonising career average of 99.94. "It was a really emotional moment for everyone," Morris said on Thursday, 50 years to the day since the "Invincibles" set foot on British soil for the tour.

"Typical of Bradman, he just tucked the bat under his arm and walked off as if he had got 100." Bradman's dramatic exit from the test arena overshadowed what many consider the greatest tour ever undertaken. Apart from Bradman and Morris, the 1948 Australians included greats such as Lindsay Hassett, Sid Barnes, Ray Lindwall, Neil Harvey and Keith Miller. Australia won the five test series by a then record margin of 4-0 and were unbeaten on 34 matches on tour, signalling their intentions early by scoring 721 on the first day of the first match against Essex. Morris, himself, featured in one of the greatest partnerships of all time when he and Bradman gave Australia an unlikely victory in the fourth test at Leeds. On the fifth and final day, Australia needed 404 runs in 334 minutes - a feat considered impossible - but Bradman (173 not out) and Morris (182) put on 301 in 217 minutes to set Australia on the way to victory with 15 minutes to spare. The team's memories toss up sharp contrasts with the game today: travelling on ship for five weeks, playing six days-a-week for months on end in a country recovering from war, no television coverage, worrying about keeping jobs back home. Bradman, who no longer appears in public, was missing from the official dinner and media interviews to mark the reunion, but he met his teammates earlier at a private reception. "He is in good spirits," Morris reported of his former partner, who turns 90 later this year. "He is mentally very alert, but he is getting a little older in his movements, as we all are." Harvey, who was only 19-years-old in his 1948 test debut, has no doubts the team were among the best ever. "They had everything going for them, they had a strong batting line-up and a strong bowling line-up, but I think their main strength was their all-roundedness, with players capable of taking five wickets and making 100 runs as well," he said. "And we had Bradman. It gave you a big start."

Lankans win and lose

Sri Lanka win and lose in their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Zone Group 3, round robin play-offs at the National Tennis Centre Courts at Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In their first match, the Lankans lost to Kazakastan 3-nil, with Rohan de Silva and Jayendra Wijeyesekera in the first and second singles, 6/4, 6/4 and 6/3, 6/2.

The Lankans lost the doubles too 6/4, 6/4 with Rajiv Rajapaksa and Samitha Ranaweera.

In another match in Group A, Sri Lanka beat Syria 2-1.

Rohan de Silva lost his singles match 6/3, 6/4 while Jayendra Wijeyesekera beat Sameer Eldin 4/6, 6/1, 6/0 in the second singles. De Silva and Wijeyesekera combined to beat Bouhaffoun and Sameer Eldin 5/7, 6/2, 6/1 in the doubles to clinch the match. In the other Group A matches Kazakastan beat Singapore 3-nil, Syria beat Singapore 2/1.

In the Group B, Malaysia beat Saudi Arabia 2/1, Takikistan beat Kuwait 2/1, Malaysia beat Kuwait 2/1, Saudi Arabia beat Tajikistan 2/1. (AF)

'Ashes' of a veil, not a ball

LONDON, (AFP) - The true origin of the Ashes which English and Australian cricket teams have contested since 1882 is not an incinerated cricket ball, as had been widely believed, but the remains of woman's veil, a report said.

The London Evening Standard newspaper said the veil had been worn by Australian society beauty Florence Murphy, and was burned as a sign of affection for the England captain Ivo Blight, whom she later married.

The Ashes came into being after a mock Sporting Times report of a defeat by Australia of England at the Oval in London in1882.

The newspaper wrote an obituary of the team, saying its ashes would be cremated and the body taken to Australia.

A few months later, under Ivo Blight, England went to Australia and won the series by two to one. He was then presented with the famous urn by a group of Melbourne ladies, including Murphy, which he brought back to England.

Legend has held that the Ashes were the burned remains of a ball or bat.

But the Standard quoted Lady Darnley, a daughter-in-law of Murphy's, as saying: "My mother-in-law told me the Ashes were a burnt veil she wore while Ivo was playing."

Disabled Games to offer incentives

This year the national disabled games in September will see a difference, as there will be stiff competition among the competitors, as the ones who perform well, getting chance of participating in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic games.

This was reveled by Sqn leader Siri Siriwardena, the newly elected President of the National Federation Of Sports For The Disabled. Siriwardena who was elected as president, for the second successive time is sportsman with disability

The national games for the disabled will be held in September this year. All executive members were selected unanimously. six out of the 11 committee members are sportsman with disability, including the president and the two vice presidents.The AGM of the National Federation Of Sports For The Disabled was held on March 23rd.

Newly Elected Office Bearers

President - Sqn Ldr Siri Siriwardena, Vice Presidents - Major Rajeeva Wickremasinghe, Alex Jayawardena, Secretary - Major (Dr) Prebath Ratnayake, Asst Secretary - K.Y.Ananda Ekanayake, Tresurer - S.Wanniarachchi, Committee members - S.L.Hettiarachchi, R.A.Sirisena, Premadasa Dissanayake, D.S.K. Athulathmudali, Sys Premila Gamage, Ex-Office members - Dr of Sports), Mrs W.S.Cooray ( Ministry of Social Services), Mr.M.M.Ahamad Rahmin ( Ministry of Education)

With the emphasis on finding new talent...

Sumathipala heads National Development Committee

By Saif Izzadeen

With the emphasis on finding new talent from the outstations, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board's executive committee has formed a National Development Committee.

The committee is headed by the Board of Control's President, Thilanga Sumathipala.

This new venture had been divided into five regions. The regional offices will be in Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Badulla and Dambulla.

There will be other districts which will be affiliated to the above main offices.

Puttalam/Chilaw DCA, Gampaha, Kalutara, Ratnapura and Colombo will be enlisted under regional office in Colombo.

Nuwara Eliya, Kegalle and Kandy will be under the regional office in Kandy. Matara, Hambantota and Galle will come under the regional office in Galle.

Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Matale and Kurunegala will come under the regional office in Dambulla. Under the Badulla district regional office there will be Ampara, Moneragala and Badulla.

Plans are underway to form the sixth committee which will serve the following districts. They are Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya.

All regional Boards have consented to cater to the needs of all district cricket associations in the region.

The National Development Committee - Chairman - Thilanga Sumathipala, Vice Presidents - Anuruddha Polonowita, Abu Fuard, Treasurer - Nuski Mohamed, Secretary - Saliya Ahangama, Chief Executive Officer - Dhammika Ranatunga, Director Coaching - Malcolm Perera, Regional Secretary Colombo - Anura Weerasinghe, Regional Secretary Kandy - Janaka Pathirana, Regional Secretary Galle - Jayananda Warnaweera, Regional Secretary Dambulla - Sujeewa Godaliyadde, Regional Secretary Badulla - R.M.U.Ratnayake

Talking Point         ..........Rover

No money

The forthcoming Coomonwealth Games will see Sri Lanka field a second string team as no money is involved.

A board official admitted that Sri Lanka will field a second string team since the winners would be presented with medals only.

Rover learns however that Australia will field a strong team.

Association to be dissolved.

Rover learns that the newly elected cycling association's adminstrative body is to be dissolved and an interim body be appointed.

The legally appointed officials are wondering what to do.


Invitation TT

The invitation schools Inter National Table Tennis Championships will be held on April 25 and 26 at the S. Thomas' indoor stadium, Mount Lavinia.

This championships will be conducted by the Alethea International School.

Six TT players for Germany

Sri Lanka will be represented by six TT players for their tour of Germany from May 10 to June 10 which is sponsored annually by the Asian German sports exchange programme .

The Sri Lankans will be pitted against several leading players in Germany.

The players picked for this tour are: Thinili. L. Piyadasa, Indika Prasad, Rohan Sirisena, K.S.T. Chalitha, Yohan Deshapriya and Dinesh Deshapriya.

Chandana Perera, the former president of the TT Association of Sri Lanka will accompany the team as manager cum coach.

Wattala Soccer officials

K.A. Conrad Perera was elected as President of the Wattala Foottball League at its Annual General Meeting held recently.

The others elected were:

Vice Presidents, C. Edward Jayawardena, Shantha Fernando, Nalin Silva; Secretary, W. Edward Silva; Assistant Secretary, Lambert Dias; Treasurer, Ranjan Mendis; Assistant Treasurer, Anton Sujeewa.

Disciplinary Committee, C. Edward Jayawardena, Shantha Fernando, Laxman Jayasundera and Murphy de Silva.

Netball tourney

The open clubs and Schools netball tournament conducted by the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka will be held on April 25 and 26 and May 2 and 3 at the Sports Ministry Courts at Reid Avenue.

The tourney will be conducted in four divisions, A, B,C,D, which will also see a Juvenile under 14, Veterans over 35 and a Mixed too is on the cards on these days.

Entries will close with the Tournament Secretary at the Netball Federation Headquarters at No 7 A, Reid Avenue.

Saunders, Renown win

Saunders and Renown have emerged as the Bristol League Division 1 and II Champions in the ongoing tournament conducted by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka.

While Air Force have finished as Division II runners-up the battle for the runners-up berth in Division 1 will be decided between Pettah United and Ratnams.

Negombo Youth and Army emerged as Division II Group 1 and II champions.

The finalists in Division III have been found with only the E Group up for decision.

Senaweera as an official

Sunil Senaweera the FIFA referee of Sri Lanka has been selected to officiate in the 8th Asian Youth under 16 championships conducted by the Asian Football Confederation from April 21 to 26 in Thailand.Sunil Senaweera

Senaweera will be among,Wang Zuezhi of China, Gurung Buddhi Bahadur of Nepal and Saleem Ali of the Maldives officiating in this championships.

He has the experience of officiating in the World Cup qualifying round in Pakistan, SAAF Games in Madras, the inaugural SAAF tournament in Nepal and in the Nehru Cup in Cochin, India.

Sri Lanka's U.H.A. Uvais will be the referees inspector in this championships.

Jayaweera heads schools Bodybuilding Association

Thilak Jayaweera of the Sri Lanka Schools Bodybuilding Association was elected President of the Sri Lanka Bodybuilding Association at its Annual General Meeting held recently.

The other officials elected are:

Vice Presidents, Wellington Samarasinghe, Mahinda Wijewardena and H. Chandrasiri; Secretary, M.W. Wijesiri; Assistant Secretary, K.A.S Angulugaha; Treasurer, Sarath Dias; Assistant Treasurer, Sarath Nawagamuwa.

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