8th August 1999
Text and pix by Ravi Nagahawatte
Thirty-year-old Padma Karunaratne turned a new leaf in local cricket umpiring when she qualified to officiate in matches played by either sex.
Karunaratne, who successfuly passed an umpires examination conducted by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, was not alone when she was bestowed with this certificate of honour.
Two ladies passed this examination which was held for the first time.
Padma is by profession an English teacher on the staff of Sudharshana Bodhi Vidyalaya, Anuradhapura.
During her spare time she officiates cricket matches having earlier represented Shakthi Ladies' Cricket Club of Anuradhapura.
"I was playing cricket until last year and captained my club team," said Karunaratne.
Airing her views on obtaining status as a women's umpire she said this is an opportunity which is difficult to get, specially when you see male dominance everywhere."
Even though she had her first official umpiring stint only a few weeks ago, she said that she has officiated in youth tournaments for the past five years.
However the free flow in her voice slowed down to a trickle of carefully selected words when she began to speak of the hardships she had gone through to become an umpire.
"I did not get much help. It was usually brickbats and discouragement which came my way."
Padma recalls the fiery baptism she had as an umpire when she got down to officiate at a boys' match conducted by the Anuradhapura Cricket Association.
"The match was between Notchiyagama and Habarana.The male umpire who was to stand in with me did not come that day.
This put pressure on me but I officiated alone and saw it through till the end of the day," reminisced Karunaratne.
Today a male also officiates in any match where a woman umpire is assigned.This seems to be the governing rule where umpiring is concerned.
"It will be soon when we will see two women umpires standing in the middle," concluded Karunaratne.
She took this oppotunity to thank the Colombo District Cricket Association for the support rendered to her.
Precision, skill and strength
By Udena.R. Attygalle
A graceful yet essentially efficient run to the stepping board, and then one long thrust up in to the air. This is all Anusha Kariyawasam does in her sport .Yet behind the seemingly easy movements is a struggle to combine precision, strength and skill into a few intense seconds . The long jump is the preferred event of Sri Lanka's new Triple jump Queen.
An all-round athlete when at Yasodara Balika Vidyalaya her tilt towards the jumping events seemed inevitable, considering her build.With longish legs and the grace that goes with it combined with her speed she did well in the Long Jump the High Jump and the Triple Jump.
She figures among the talented few who can claim a National record as well as a place in the national team while still at school.
The SAF games in '87 was her first taste of the international arena and was followed by the Sri Lanka Long Jump record two years later.
Her distance of 6.01 metres was the first time a women had gone past the 6 metre mark in Sri Lanka.
It was only after leaving school in 1992 that she took up the Triple Jump. An instant success at this new event she established a record of 12.01 metres in her first competitive meet. Yet as she herself said "the triple jump is my extra event .
I just relax and do my thing." A string of below par performances where she was unable to touch the 6 metre barrier in the Long Jump prompted a move to Rome in Italy in '96, the country of Fiona May the World champion at the Long Jump.
Training on her own she was spotted by Gussepe Oddo of the Progetto Atletica club a specialist coach in the jumping events.
Now running for the club she is placed 1st in the Long jump and 2nd in the Triple in the Lazio region ,which includes Rome and it's suburbs . A knee injury and the operation that followed put her off the track for nearly 5 months in 1998. It is, she said " only in '99 that I really started improving."
Her participation at the Sri Lankan National Championships last week also marked her return to the local track and field scene. Unfortunately a jump of 6.02 m could only secure her 2nd place in the long. Indian athlete Anju K. Markose did far better with a leap of 6.32 metres. According to Anusha " I got to Sri Lanka only 2 days before the meet and I was sick for a while afterward as well".
A Sri Lankan record in the triple of12.81metres came a day later. Incidentally it was her first competitive meet at this event after 95! ( She had started training for this event only 3 months back.)
Anusha's best leap in the long jump is at 6.29 metres in Italy . Although this falls short of Markoses achievement, her coach believes that she has the capacity to go beyond the 6.50 metre mark.
With Markose too aiming for the 6.50 m mark an interesting battle is at hand between these two talented athletes, when they meet in Kathmandu for the SAF games next month.
Remaining as nonchalant as ever about her triple jumping capabilities, Anusha will not compete at this event in Kathmandu.
Anusha flew back to Italy last Friday to prepare for the SAF games. Although quite excited about the challenge ahead, she was quick to say "there is no place like home."
"The golden era of Sri Lankan Cricket is a recently published book by Ajith C.S.Perera. To the cricketing world Ajith is known as an umpire who rose to the level of being in Sri Lanka's International panel. Unfortunately just as he was reaching the peak of his carreer fate struck a cruel blow. With restricted movement Ajith has gone about this task of piecing this book together. A heroic effort indeed. In the space of twenty six chapters every single detail of the 1996 World Cup, plus more, is discussed and analysed in detail. The foreword is written by former Sri Lankan captain Michael Tissera while the preface has been contributed by Leslie Cheeseman a founder member and General Secretary of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers of England. The book opens in the fashion of a team building a long innings, a big score. ln fact a solid opening partnership. A brief history of the one-day game, Sri Lanka's entry into this form of the game and the major tournaments are given coverage. The introduction to the main core of the book says thus ; "They richly deserved great honour. You brought back an honour for the country and our nation. With individual cricketing skills, knitted together with team spirit and dedication, filled with resilience and coveted by sportsmanship, you teamed up all united, to outline the rest and convincingly become, world's one-day cricket kings. You were great Ambassadors of Goodwill and continued to remain humble in victory". Quite simply the way all Sri Lankans felt about that unsurpassable achievement. In the early chapters some general thoughts on that World Cup and Sri Lankan cricket are covered, leading upto the "Bombshells" dropped by the Australian and West Indians, by announcing that they would not play in Sri Lanka. On the subject of security and terrorism, Ajith makes a simple statement; for any reason if one happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time the consequences could be very unfortunate for any one of us". How very true. From then on every single aspect of the unforgettable event is dissected into detail. The venues, the organisational arrangements, the sponsorships, the tournament format, the awards, the favourites, taking us through to the gala opening ceremony. After briefly discussing some of the highlights of the tournament each game is described chapter by chapter - commencing from the first game Sri Lanka played against Zimbabwe, on February 21st at the S.S.C. grounds. These chapters and throughout the book scorecards and summary charts depicting so much analysis provides such valuable education. Before the finals is discribed in utmost detail, three chapters are devoted to the mood of Sri Lanka's triumph. "The Lions out to devour the Kangaroos". "Witnessing the glorious triumph". "A Red-letter day in Sri Lanka". The final itself is covered in two chapters titled; "Victory is sealed and secured early" and "Sri Lanka conquer Cricker's Mount Everest", spanning thirty pages. It is not just the reading material that makes this book so valuable but also the numerous photographs, both in black and white and colour. From then on the following chapters catches the action on the celebrations, the heroe's return, the deserving rich harvest the players reaped, the tributes paid and the significance of this great triumph. A chapter is then dedicated to the triumphs that followed and then to the next stage. Sri Lanka's cricket and the hopes for the 1999 World Cup. That is now behind us too. What the author and many Sri Lankans hoped for did not happen. Now a new era has begun. "The Golden Era of Sri Lankan Cricket" is a well laid out masterpiece. It is a book worth possessing not just for the reading, but also for the historic value it will gain for generations in the future. Ajith Perera's final sentence quotes Sir Winston Churchill. "Kites rise against the wind, not with it" That is the need of Sri Lanka this hour - to rise against the wind.
By Bernie Wijesekera
Kandy SC after a lukewarm start in the 1999 Carlsberg 'A' league championship in the first-leg came back to its own after the turn-around when they emerged as 'Kings of Sri Lanka Club Rugby.
They dethroned the defending champions CR&FC with a high-octane performance at the Bogambara Stadium, played before 7,000 frenzied fans. Incidentally it was the biggest crowd seen in Kandy in recent times for a team contest. Both winners and vanquished must be congratulated on this great happening.
The game got under way in gloomy conditions, but in the end provided the sparks and fire when Referee Michael Hall blew no sides, with Kandy winning 35-14. Bogambara, went all aglow, resembling a mini-carnival, with skipper Haris Omar making a jubilant run with his team around the venue, amid lusty cheering.
It was a great team effort no doubt and a Red Letter Day for KSC when they outplayed the red shirts in a clean and hard fought out game. In the end the game was the winner, watched by rugby legends of yesteryear Kavan Rambukwelle, Ashy Cader, Didacus Almeida, Brig. Jupana Jayawardena, the Presidents of the Rugby Union, Anton Benedict and CR's Jagath Fernando, Chairman of the Selection Committeee, Tikiri Marambe etc.
Fittingly, it was a bouquet of red roses for KSC President, Chandra Wijenaike, who will be in the driving seat to mark the start of the 125th year ceremonies.
In the midst of it all were two die-hard supporters of the game, immediate past President of the SLRFU, Dr. Maiya Gunasekera, a stalwart of the CR&FC, sporting a red shirt and rugby promoter and supporter Malik Samarawickrema, at present a cornerstone of KSC.
There were occasional catcalls, but the crowd was at its best behaviour.
Security arrangements were excellent - even inside the ground, thanks to the Police headed by ASP Daya Samaraweera and HQI Kandy, Saliya Silva.
All credit must go to KSC officials, namely, Mahes Weerasinghe, Malath Fernando, Leslie de Zoysa, Sarath Perera, H.W. Chandrasiri, Janaka Pathirana, Ranjit Jayaweera, Deva Amunugama and Dudley Gunatilleke etc., who left no stone unturned to ensure that all went well. They spent much of their precious time and worked in unison to make it a reality on and off the field for Kandy to emerge undisputed champions.
It was quintessential rugby that CR was accustomed to. But in this match it wasn't there and went down tamely, to a side that indulged in cohesive and open rugby through their granite-hard forwards. As for CR, they lacked their usual sparks and played in patches, which was to their undoing.
Credit for KSC's success should go to their amiable coach and former Sri Lankan Captain, Priyantha Ekanayake. He worked hard with the team to further improve their skills. The players were prepared to learn though some of them were star-studded players in the local scene.
After the team's heroics Ekanayake was interviewed by The Sunday Times for his comments. The first-leg defeat at the hands of the CR, stood in good stead.
If you don't lose, one will not know how to win? You are correct. At the start of the season the players tended to be lethargic and lacked that all important ingredient - fitness.
You are your own enemy? I agree. They all worked hard and in the end won fame for the club and for themselves, Priyantha nodded.
No coach however good he is could win a match. It solely depends on the players' ability to put the act-together on the field. In the end all credit should go to the team and not to the coach, Ekanayake added.
In 1997, Kandy won a 'Triple Crown' under Lasantha Wijesuriya. You had a big hand in its success. Aren't you still good enough to be in the side? Well, it was a team effort, and not individual brilliance. This is a cardinal principle in any team sport. It does not matter, who plays, but the objective has to be achieved in the end. Put the team before self, whether you play for the country or club.
In some quarters people suggest that I should play. One must be truthful to himself - how fit he is. Whether he could stand the strain and has the stamina to last the pace. This should be the criteria, be it rugby or otherwise. No one should try to enjoy a 'Carry On Series.
Ekanayake also thanked the Hong Kong national coach from New Zealand, Simon Simpkin, for the assistance afforded to the team to further improve the techniques.
Finally, he said the success is also attributable to the hard work done by the club hierarchy, who planned well in advance and afforded both men and material for the players, as some of them hail from less affluent homes.
Dudley Gunatilleke, the Vice-President of the Club was interviewed in the absence of the Snr. V.P. Dr. Sarath Kapuwatte. To celebrate, 125 years is a rare milestone. KSC has planned a number of celebrations to mark the occasion.
Firstly, an International Asian Rugby 'Sevens'. Apparently for the first time in the history of Asian Rugby. Ten countries are likely to be in the fray - Japan, S. Korea, Hong Kong, China, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.
To be televised
It will also coincide with a schools 'Sevens' tournament, to be staged on September 4 and 5. There will be overseas and local TV coverage. A tremedous boost for the sport.
The trustee of the club, Malik Samarawickrema, has had a big hand in this great happening.
Besides, quite a number of firms and well-wishers of KSC have joined the scrum. Unlike in the past when, the plantation fraternity stole the limelight. But today, Kandy, is the catalyst when it comes to outstation rugby, Gunatilleke said.
No crowd means no interst for the development of the sport. It must be mentioned, wherever Kandy plays, it draws a crowd. Take this match, all tickets were sold out. You may have seen to yourself some of them in their anxiety to watch the game even jumped over the wall to cheer 'Go Kandy, Go'.
In the past Kandy received much support from the Colombo clubs when they travelled to play their matches away from home, after media exposure. Travelling expenses were afforded to them. For this gesture KSC are grateful to them even todate. Cordial relationship with CH&FC, CR&FC, Havelocks SC, Police SC and the Services is being continued. This bond of friendship will last. Results are secondary. The game is what matters in the end.
After the incident-free 'decider' against the CR at Bogambara, on July 31, the Red Shirts have decided to play all their engagements against Kandy at Nittawela in future. Kandy's Clifford Cup matches will be at Nittawela. To this effect the Rugby Union has sent a letter.
A word of thanks must also go to its Secretary Capt. Harsha Mayadunne, who used his good offices to bring about a settlement. Mayadunne said, if rugby is to be promoted, then there should be more games away from Colombo.
KSC has already started its re-develoment programme. They have demolished their old clubhouse. A new clubhouse will be built with a modern Gym, with all facilities to cater to the needs of the players before the start of the year 2000 season.
According to an official, these facilities will be afforded to the schools in the Hill Capital, too.
As for the young players -fly-half, Sajith Mallikaratchie, a player with immense potential. He runs like a gazelle, bemusing the opposing defence, that, too with a zig-zag run. He has the makings of a Mohan Sayham or Glen Vanlangenberg, provided he keeps his head. Haris Omar, the Captain, is another player to watch. A chip of the old block. His father Rizvan, too played for Trinity, Kandy and for Sri Lanka as a No. 8. Both are Trinity 'lions'. Haris with Savantha de Saram, Alfred Hensman, Lasantha Wijesuriya, Asanga Rodrigo, Radhika Hettiaratchie, Duminda de Silva, Harin Perera and Kishan Musafer could be in the scrum for a couple of more years provided they show consistency.
CR's scrum-half Champika Nishantha and Niloufer Ibrahim, showed up well. Ibrahim, the Kingswood footballer like Nalaka Weerakkody turned ruggerite was eye-catching with his shrewd blind side moves.
But the showpiece of the match was full-back, Nalaka Weerakkody. He is a much improved player now and keeps his head in control - thanks to motivation. A football kick of his earned Kandy, a try where Lasantha Wijesuriya was at hand to pick the loose ball and dart over the line.
Of course, the seasoned players in either side played their hearts out. But in the end Kandy's ploy proved a success to win the Carlsberg Trophy to mark their 125th year.
All in all it was a good game of rugby and the fans got their money's worth.
My Police Memories
By S. Sivendran
(Retd. Snr. Supdt. of Police)
During the mid-thirties a new rugby club came into being in Kandy in addition to the Kandy Sports Club. It was the Kandy Lake Club founded by E.W. Balasuriya, a well-known sportsman and a sports benefactor.
The Kandy Lake Club team then consisted mainly of athletes and physical culturists from the hill country, spiced with schoolboy rugby players and had its first rugby encounter against Zahira College, Colombo in 1963 which was a friendly, at the Zahira College grounds.
The team that played in this historic game consisted of Asoka Kehelpannala of Trinity, Weerasinghe, Farook Dole, George Jayasena, Uynawatte, M. Zarook, H.A. Faizeen, Holmes, Lal Daswani, K.B. Marasinghe, Tony Babanoor, N.S. Thanabalasingham, M.N. Majeed (Captain), G. Thambirajah and Upali Fernando and the reserves were K. Nanayakkara, M. Jinadasa, S.H. Ismail and Shelton Pereira. Ashey Cader refereed this game.
Kandy Lake Club grew from strength to strength to become one of the leading rugby clubs in the up-country alongside Kandy Sports Club, Dimbulla, Dickoya, Uva and Kelani Valley and was coached by Sydney Ratwatte and Maurice Perera. With Kandy Lake Club playing good rugby, more and more rugby players were attracted to this club such as Didacus de Almeida the crack centre from St. Peter's College who later played for CR&FC and Ceylon, Maurice de Silva, another Peterite centre who played for Havelocks and Ceylon, Gavin Stevens, a hardworking prop forward from St. Anthony's College, Kandy, who later played for Kandy Sports Club, Havelocks SC and Ceylon. Also Maurice Windus, Hector Galuge, T. Wijesinghe, D. Silva, M. Dindess, R. Fernando, S. Seneviratne, A. Abdeen, C. Kulatunge, D. Jayasundera and C. Perera.
The matches between the Police and Kandy Lake Club evoked a lot of interest among the rugby crowd as both teams played a tough and hard brand of rugby and both were in the ascendancy in local rugby. I still remember a match between the Police captained by me and the Kandy Lake Club played at Bogambara in 1966. This match was played in heavy rain and became a battle amongst the tough forwards on both sides on a water-logged Bogambara grounds. In the end the Police emerged victorious.
After the match both teams and officials were entertained to drinks and dinner by the Kandy Lake Club at which I was seated in the company of E.W. Balasuriya, Maurice Perera, Sydney Ratwatte, Dr. K.B. Sangakkara, Dr. C.D.L. Fernando and D.G. Suraweera, who was ASP, Kandy who joined the Police during the colonial days starting from the ranks. While we were discussing the game that evening, Dr. Sangakkara said the Police would have scored more points but that unfortunately the Police full-back Sourjah was not wearing his kicking boots.
This prompted ASP Suraweera to ask me, "Siva why the hell didn't he bring his kicking boots," amidst laughter from the rest, as he took it literally and not metaphorically.But the evening ended in a happy note and we travelled down to Colombo the same night as was the practice then, unlike today when the teams stay in the big hotels and return the following day. During this period the Old Peterites and Old Joes who had some great rugby players used to play an annual rugby encounter at the end of the rugby season for the 'Father Nicholas Perera Memorial Cup' at Havelock Park which is followed by a dinner-dance at the Havelocks Club House. The first match of the season was played in 1961 and some of the players who featured for the Old Peterites were: 'Letcho' Ephraums, Conrad Ephraums, Desmond Ephraums, Ago Paiva, Ralph Gauder, Percy Wijekoon, Didacus de Almeida, Maurice de Silva, Carl Fernando, M.Z. Rahman, F.A. Gomez, S. Sivendran, Frizz Ohlums, Jeyer Rodriguez, Bentley Barsenbeck, D. Dharmarajah, Adiel Anghie, Raj Rodriguez, Tim Arnolda, Carl Nugera, Richard Abraham and Newton Marathalingam, for the Old Peterites.
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