9th January 2000

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The big day dawns on Jan. 11

Sri Lanka prepares to host its greatest sporting showpiece,
the under 19 youth World Cup

By Callistus Davy

AWAY from Colombo's bustling city life, a band of young cricketers train in the mid-day sun in preparation to represent a cricket crazy nation in what the pundits have billed to be the greatest spectacle Sri Lanka has ever hosted since the non aligned conference of 1976.

The event is the 16-nation Youth World Cup and the youngsters, all of whom dream of becoming household names, are skinning their knees and baking their brains just to make certain their mentors don't come down too hard on them for mistakes committed when the training session is over.

For the moment it is sweat and toil, but when the big day dawns on January 11 emotion and tension will fill the minds of the moulded youngsters.

"This is going to be the biggest moment in their lives. They are the future and the kids are going to enjoy that", explains the Cricket Board's media manager Chandrishan Perera, a former national ruggerite and first class cricketer.

Sri Lanka has never had the pride and fortune of bringing together such a large number of representative teams from across all five continents and organising officials believe the event will not only boost the country's tourist potential but also help to provide a soothing moment for a people traumatised by recent political upheaval and a stalemated ethnic conflict.

The government has already given its blessings for the showpiece and the Board has not failed to invite President Chandrika Kumaranatunga to declare open the event.

The tournament roars off with the host country taking on the Irish youth in the curtain raiser at Sri Lanka's most hallowed venue, the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground in Colombo.

But the venue that is likely to come into focus is the picturesque ground in mountainous Radella that until now was as dormant as the foothills that surround it. Since 1983, when a first class match between a Sri Lanka Board team and New Zealand was rained off, no foreign player has set foot in Radella and the ground's thirst for a match will end when Pakistan and Kenya battle for honours in a qualifying match on January 12.

No one however has dared to pick on the ultimate winner but analysts believe host country Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and England make up the best bets.

The English youth are the defending World Cup champions and will be one of the first teams to arrive for an early acclimatisation before taking on the West Indies in their opening match.

But despite the best of the cricketing nations vying for honours in the tournament, organisers are wary of the fact that junior cricket does not attract the best of spectator turn-outs. To overcome any embarrassment the gates will be open free of charge and television coverage will be limited to just 14 of the 54 matches.

If one factor could contribute to keeping spectators away, the absence of coloured kits for players may be the drawback as the International Cricket Council (ICC) has declared that coloured clothing would prove disadvantagous to teams of countries that do not indulge in day/night cricket.

As Sri Lanka's would-be cricketing stars prepare for the big day, so is a 150-strong manpower contingent in action dressing up venues, improving media facilities and drawing up logistics concerning transport and accommodation of teams.

The quest to host an event of such magnitute would not have been a reality but for a successful bid by the Board's former president Thilanga Sumathipala in September 1998.

When Sumathipala was suspended from functioning on a court order over allegations of re-election malpractice, he had already set the ball rolling with the establishment of a co-ordinating committee that has been entrusted the task of organising as many as 54 matches in the run-up to the final on January 28.

But a lot more in terms of management has yet to be finalised. Organisers are still in the process of raising money for expenditure with only a percentage of the funds pledged by the ICC. To make ends meet the Board has called for tenders to sell the remaining rights, part of which has been bought by Sony Entertainments, the television company that will provide live coverage.

But none is as positive and optimistic as Chandrishan. "Raising such a lot of money for a big event like this is a gigantic task. But we are confident everything will fall into place in the next couple of days", says Chandrishan

U-19 World Cup Squad

Who's who of the Sri Lanka Under 19 team

Malintha Gajanayake (Captain) - Born 5th October 1980. Compact right hand middle order bat and brilliant field in any position. Previous Tours: Toured England for the Under 15 Mini World Cup and captained the team in 1996, toured South Africa in 1998 for the MTN Under 19 World Cup, toured India in 1999 with the Under 19 team. Present Captain of his school D. S. Senanayake College Colombo. Achieved the highest honour from the school this year being awarded the 'D.S. Lion'.

Thilina Sahan Hewa Kandambi - Born on 4th June 1982. Stylish left hand top order batsman and promising right arm leg spinner. Safe fielder in any position.

Previous tours: Under 15 Mini World Cup in England 1996, Under 17 tour of Hong Kong in 1998, toured South Africa in 1998 for the MTN Under 19 World Cup, Under 19 tour of India 1999.

Ian Gerald Daniels - Born 18 August 1981. Stylish right hand attacking opening batsman. Bowls slow right arm pace. Sound fielder in any position.

Previous tours: Under 15 Mini World Cup in England in 1996, Under 17 tour of Hong Kong, Under 19 tour of India 1999. Highest score 152 Vs Royal College Colombo. Awarded the Best Batsman in schools this year and also runner-up to the schoolboy cricketer of the year 1999.

Jehan Mubarak - Born 10th January 1981. Fine all rounder. Very aggressive left hand opening batsman or at one drop. Bowls right arm off spin. Good fielder in any position. Previous tours: Under 15 Mini World Cup in England in 1996, Under 17 tour of Hong Kong 1997, Under 19 tour of India 1999.

Dunusinghe Gedara Ranil Dhammika - Born 27th December 1980. Bowls left arm leg spin and left hand bat and good fielder in any position. Previous tours: Under 15 Mini World Cup in England in 1996, Under 19 tour of India 1999.

Prabath Nissanka - Born 15th October 1980. Right arm medium fast bowler and opens the bowling. Fair fielder. Previous tours: Under 19 tour of India 1999, Sri Lanka "A" team tour of South Africa in 1999.

Muthumudalige Pushpakumara - Born 26th September 1981. Fine all rounder. Bowls right arm off spin and sound left hand middle order batsman. Was awarded the Best Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award in 1999 and also awarded the best bowler, best fielder and best all rounder award the same year. Previous tours: toured Hong Kong with the schools Under 17 Team.

Kaushalya Weeraratne - Born 20th January 1981. Fine all rounder. Bowls right arm medium pace and bats left hand. Very attacking player with a wide range of strokes. Previous tours: toured Hong Kong with the Schools team in 1998.

W. C. Akalanka Ganegama - Born 23rd March 1981. Right arm opening bowler. Safe fielder, useful right hand batsman. Best bowling performance: match bag of 11 wickets for 47 Vs. Richmond College Galle.

Thanthige Rashan Peiris - Born 21st January 1982. Right hand attacking opening batsman and sound wicket keeper. Prolific scorer during the last schools season with 1053 runs to his credit and 34 victims behind the stumps.

P. L. Umal Irandika Liyanage - Born 11th November 1980. Bowls left arm leg spin and good fielder. Performed very well during the last schools season by obtaining 76 wickets. Useful batsman.

Kaushal Samaraweera Lokuarachchi - Born 20th May 1982. Right hand attacking opening batsman. Bowls right arm leg spin. Brilliant fielder. Scored over 550 runs and captured 35 wickets for his school.

K. Mevan Fernando - Born 16th March 1981. Right hand batsman and left arm leg spin bowler and sound fielder. Best all round performance: 68 and 6/40 Vs. Isipatana College Colombo.

P. Chamara Lasantha Perera - Born 10th March 1981. Bats right hand and bowls right arm slow medium pace. Good fielder. Best batting performance: 130 runs Vs. Gurukula MMV Kelaniya and 7/30 vs. Ratnapura CC in the Under 23 Tournament. Previous tours: Under 15 Mini World Cup in England 1996, Under 17 tour of Hong Kong 1998.

D. S. De Silva (Manager/Head Coach) - Played for the Sri Lanka national team from 1972 - 1985. Captained Sri Lanka national team in New Zealand 1982 - 1983. Played as an Overseas Professional for Shropshire and Lincolnshire Minor Counties and League Cricket in Lancashire League in England 1975 - 1983. Played as captain/coach in Australia for Northshore C.C. 1985 - 1990 (won three premierships 1985/86, 1986/87 and 1988/89).

Cricket Manager - Sri Lanka National Team for World Cup 1999. Specialized coach for spin bowling at the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka. Coaching Bloomfield Cricket Club from 1994 - 1996 (Won championship Division I Tournament in Sri Lanka 1994/95, 1996/97).

Carlton Samuel Valentine Bernardus (Coach) - Born 10th February 1959. Played Premier (Division I) cricket for Nondescript Cricket Club and Colombo Colts Cricket Club from 1976 to 1989. Brilliant fielder in schools and clubs, All Island during 1974 to 1989. Captained the Colombo Colts Cricket Club in 1984/1985. Manager Under 19 Indian tour of Sri Lanka 1997. Coach Under 19 Sri Lanka team tour of India in February 1999.

An old boy of St. Joseph's College Colombo. Coached Colombo Colts Cricket Club Premier Division I from 1997/99 and won the U-23 Championship, Limited Over Premier Championship and runner-up Premier League Championship during the period mentioned. Coached St. Joseph's College Colombo Junior and Senior Teams from 1986 to 1995. District Coach of the Colombo District Cricket Association from 1994 to 1996. Chairman Tournament Committee BCCSL 1998/1999. Accredited Level II Coach of the Australian Coaching Council and Level IV Coach, Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka.


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