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
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",
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
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
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.