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26th March 2000

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Mark Spitz: The swimming
phenomenon, winner of 5 golds

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Mark Spitz: The swimming phenomenon, winner of 5 golds

By Annesley Ferreira

Mark Spitz had one objective at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. He had to prove that he was better than Don Schollander by establishing himself as the first swimmer to win five gold medals in one Olympics and then to become the first athlete in any sport to win six gold medals in one Olympics - and then to do one better than that - no athlete had done before - win seven golds.

Spitz astonished the world at these Games in what was to be the most stunning performance yet to be seen, by participating in seven races and not only winning seven golds, Mark set seven world records along the way. Here is what he did: 100 metres Free 51.22; 200 metres Free 1:52.78; 100 Butterfly 54.27; 200 Butterfly 2:00.70; 4x100 Free Relay 3:32.2; 4x200 Free Relay 7:35.78 and the 4x100 Medley Relay 3:42.22. The sensational thing about these world records that Mark set, is that he held every one of them previously, including the three Relays.

There was the possibility of Spitz withdrawing from the 100 Free in favour of his team-mate Jery Heidenreich, who has made tremendous headway and posed a threat to him. Mark's father has reminded a statement made to him in early life "swimming isn't everything, winning is." And with Mark's former Coach Sherm Chavoor successfully convincing him not to "chicken" out - beat Heidenreich by half stroke to the wall.

Men's Swimmers of The Century - The Top Ten says, Editor Philip Whitten of the Swimming World magazine: "Choosing the top 25 men and women of the century was a formidable task. How do you compare a Johnny Weismuller, who won five Olympic Gold medals (100 Free 59.0 OR, 400 Free 5:04.2 OR and 4 x 200 Free Relay 9:53.4 WR 1924 Paris Games; 100 Free 58.6 OR & 4 x 200 Free Relay 9:36.2 WR 1928 Amsterdam Games) and swam with his head out of the water and did open turns, with Mark Spitz who swam for years and won seven gold medals under much better conditions, much tougher and deeper competition. Presenting the top ten Men of the 1900s, we give credit to the Swimming World December 1999 issue for the following:.

01. Mark Spitz (1965-72) United States

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Spitz won 7 golds, all in world record time - the greatest performance in Olympic history in any sport. Spitz set 26 individual world marks in Free and Butterfly, swam 7 world record Relays won 11 Olympic medals. He was Swimming World's 1972 "World Swimmer of the Year".

02 Johnny Weissmuller (1921-28) United States

The greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th century, Weissmuller won 5 gold medals in 1924 Paris and 1928 Amsterdam Games and set 51 world records at distances from 50 yards to 800 metres. His 100 yards Free record of 51.0 stood for 17 years. He swam a 48.5 as professional at the age 36, and later starred as "Tarzan" in the movies.

03. Matt Biondi [1984-92] United States

Winner of 11 Olympic medals - 8 golds in 3 Olympiads, Biondi was the most celebrated athlete of the 1988 Seoul Games, winning 7 medals - 5 golds and 4 of them in world record time - a performance only second to Spitz. He set 12 WRs in the 50, 100 and 200 Free. Swimming World's 1988 "World Swimmer of the Year."

04. Murray Rose [1955-64] Australia

In 1956, at the age of 17, Rose became the youngest triple gold medalist in history. Wins in 400, 1500 and 4x200 relay Free. In 1960 he repeated his win in the 400 Free, thus becoming the first swimmer to win the distance event at successive Olympiads. He set WRs at distances from 200 to 1500 metres Free.

05. Duke Kahanamoku [1911-24] United States

One great swimmer of history, the "Duke" also introduced the sport of Surfing around the world. His first WRs set in Hawaii in 1911 were so fast they were not believed by officials. He won 4 golds in the 4 Olympiads between 1912 and '28, and making the Olympic team in 1928 when he was 38 years old.

06. Kieren Perkins [1990-present] Australia

Regarded as the greatest distance swimmer of all time. In 1994 Perkins set awesome records in the 400, 800 and the 1500 Free. Ian Thorpe [fellow countryman] broke his 400 in 1999, but the two longer WRs still stand. He won back-to-back the 1500 Free metre Olympic golds in 1992 Barcelona in 1996 Atlanta, and only the second to achieve the feat.Swimming World's1994 World's 1994 ''World Swimmer of the Year".

07. Don Schollander [1962-68] United States

The star of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics with 4 gold medals and three in world record time, was selected as the world's top athlete of 1964. In 1963 he became the first swimmer to break the 2 minutes for the 200 Free

08. Alex Popov [1989-present] Russia

The "Russian Rocket," Popov is the only swimmer to win back-to-back Olympic crowns in the 50 and 100 Free, accomplishing his double in the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The present WR-holder of the 100 Free 48.21 had no one to beat him in any international competition until 1998.

09. Vladimir Salinikov [1976-88] Russia

The greatest distance swimmer of the 1980s and early '90s, Salinikov set WRs in the 400, 800 and 1500 Free and the first swimmer to go under the 15 minute barrier in the 1500. Won the 400 and 1500 Free at the 1980 Moscow Games and the 400 and 1500 Free at the 1988 Seoul Games. Perhaps the most enduring and determined distance swimmer, had to wait eight years to prove his superiority in the 1500 Free as he could not compete in 1984 Los Angeles Games in view of the Soviet boycott.

10. Adolph Kiefer [1935-46] United States

Undefeated for 8 years, Kiefer was the 1936 Berlin Olympic Backstroke champ. He was the first to break the 1 minute for the 100 yard Back and held the World Record 1:04.8 for 15 years.

Courtesy the Olympian and the Swimming World -in association with C.Vijitha Fernando, Duncan White Sports Foundation.

Don Victor calls it a day

Athletics the great sport was so close to my heart for the past five decades. I consider it very unfortunate that with the international cordiality I have developed in athletics I have not been able to contribute as much as I desired. If not unwillingness to co-operate what else?

In this atmosphere of events I have decided with great regret to sever all my connections with athletics. May be that I will be useful if destiny so demands and sanity is restored in the administration of athletics.

1948- As a student of St. Joseph's College, Colombo started athletics under late Mr. Anthony Abeysinghe.

1950-Established new long jump record at the Group Meet and the Public School Meet under 16.

1951,1952, 1953 won Public School Colours.

1953 -Established a new Long Jump record in the Public Schools Meet under 19 erasing a record established in 1938.

1956-Established a new Ceylon record in the Long Jump clearing 23' 6 1/2" erasing the record established in 1938.

1958-Cleared 24' in the Long Jump and jumped 7 times over the Asian Games record in competition.

1956-1959-Represented Sri Lanka on 7 occasions. This included 3rd Asian Games, Tokyo and 4th Commonwealth Games in Wales in 1958.

1956 - I trained under American Coach Brayton Norton.

1958- I trained under American Coach Joe Yancey. The AAA at that time did not have sufficient funds to provide transport to Mr. Yancy. On a request made by late Mr. David Thambiah, Secretary of AAA I provided a vehicle, fuel and a driver at his disposal for 4 1/2 months.

1982-Though I held no position in the AAA on a request made by Mr. T.D.S.A Dissanayake I collected Rs. 100,000/= within 72 hrs. to help send the Sri Lanka team for the Asian Games held in India. The team could not win a single medal. Hon. Minister consequently appointed a one man committee to inquire into the reasons for this debacle. For the first time in the 60 years' athletic history in the country the AAA was dissolved. The one man commission report will prove how the great pretender destroyed athletics. Hon. Minister appointed a Board as an interim arrangement to continue the functions of the AAA. I was appointed its Treasurer in 1984.

1985-1986-Acting Secretary /Treasurer AAF.

1986-1992 -As Secretary of AAA I was fully responsible for collecting over Rs.2 mn to expose athletes for International Meets. In addition I have spent over 1 mn out of my own funds for the promotion of athletics during this period. Some of these expenses are reflected in the audit statements of accounts of the AAA. During some years all stamp fees, telephone, telex and my secretary's fees exceeding over Rs. 40,000/- per year. I had requested the President AAA and the Hon. Minister to treat this as a donation.

1989-Treasurer SAF.

1989-Organized an International Invitation Meet with a full programme including a Marathon and a Road Race.

1989 - Ministry of Sports offered a building premises to the AAA from the old Race Course building under its programme of offering office space to National Associations. As the premises selected by the AAA was spacious I got it renovated and completed with a fully furnished Board Room, VIP Room, Secretary's Room, Lecture Room, Quarters for 22 athletes and a dining hall. The cost was around Rs. 470,000/- Having appreciated my effort the Ministry too assisted me with Rs.150,000/- The balance amount was donated by late Deshamanya N.W.J. Mudalige and his son Anil Mudalige. This was for the first time after 69 years of athletics in Sri Lanka the AAA was able to claim headquarters of its own. At the opening ceremony the Senior Vice- President remarked that AAA's nomadic existence had thus ended due to my efforts. Late Hon. Lalith Athulathmudali then President in his speech specially mentioned that he agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the Senior Vice- President.

1991-Elected to the Asian Athletic Council. Incidentally, I was the first Sri Lankan to receive this rare honour.

1991 - As Secretary of the AAA being not happy the way SAF Games matters were being handled I had a serious discussion with the President at that time and I opted not to attend any meetings of the Association and I watched the Meet on TV. The only active part I took was to take the foreign officials who had come down to Kandy on a day outing at my expense.

1992- The AAA was dissolved in March and an Interim Board was appointed by the Hon. Minister. This decision I challenged in the Court of Appeal. The final Court decision was in my favour. In that the Board had to be dissolved and fresh elections called for. The entire cost was met by me. Though this action of mine was encouraged and appreciated by the then President I doubt how many other Athletic Administrators in Sri Lanka did so. No lesser person than the late Dr. Primo Nibelo the President of the IAAF congratulated me for saving the democratic rights of the athletic world whom I met at Stuttgart at the World Championships and the IAAF Congress in 1993.

1992- I was made to understand that the President of the NOC had informed that a Board for Athletics had been appointed by the Hon. Minister and alleged that the AAA had mismanaged a large sum of money. I replied to him on the 24th of November 1992 stating that it was a completely false allegation. I also referred him to page 24 of The Sunday Times of 15th November 1992 and inquired as to and why he had not answered as to what happened to Rs.11 million granted by the IOC for a period of 4 years and also what happened to US$500 granted to each competitor and US$8,000 given for equipment at the Barcelona Olympics. These grants had been made to Sri Lanka NOC. In the final tally for 8 years they had received around 26.5 million. I was Secretary of the AAA for nearly 8 years. I was never given an opportunity to go for the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or SAF Games. Reasons well-known. I had discussions with the IAAF Officials to get the Regional Development Centre for the South Asian Region to Sri Lanka. I was promised by a Senior Official of the IAAF that he would give me all the necessary help to make it a success. I have the documents concerned. Unfortunately I was not given the chance to work on it as I was pulled out from the Asian AAA. Consequently the same fate met an approval made by me personally to some German Officials for help to lay a synthetic track in Reid Avenue Grounds.. Two Senior Officials of the Ministry along with a Representative of Germany examined the Reid Avenue Track and I was invited to Germany to finalize arrangements when I was pulled out of the AAA.

1992 - On a personal request made by me to Mr. Hans Peter Thumm, German Athletic Coach made a gift of sports goods to the value of over Rs.200,000/-. I received the Invoice in my name after the AAA was dissolved immediately I met the Hon. Minister and handed it over to him. He in turn had handed it over to a Senior Official of the Board. In 1993 when fresh elections were held after one year I made inquiries from the then President as to what had happened to the sports goods. I was surprised to hear that it was stocked at the residence of a very Senior Official. I requested the President to see that the goods were collected. It was more interesting to note that he had collected the goods worth over 2 lakhs and without informing me who was fully responsible in getting them had distributed saying that he had received it from the IAAF and followed it up summoning a press conference without informing me being a Vice-President. He had made false allegations against me which came up in the press. Immediately, I replied through the press proving the falsity of allegations against me.

1993-A very Senior Official living in a glass house accused me of playing out Rs.8.2 Million at the 1991 SAAF Games held in Sri Lanka. The official accounts of the SAAF Games submitted by the Treasurer goes to prove that I had not handled even 5 cents which was confirmed through the newspapers. But the biggest surprise to me was when I went through the 1993 accounts, it was found that the debtors of 1993 accounts had been written off overnight. AAA gave me an award for the dedicated service for Athletics in Asia.

1994 - Before my leaving to Hiroshima Asian Games I met the Hon. Minister S.B. Dissanayake and informed him that I wish to bid for the Asian Championships to be held in Sri Lanka in 1997 and I promised him to find sponsors worth Rs. 10 Million to start with. The Hon. Minister was very keen and he very genuinely gave his blessings for me to go ahead. Arriving at Hiroshima I found that Malaysia and Syria were seriously looking forward to bid for it. At a friendly level I spoke to them and they promised to stand down on my behalf. I brought this up at the Council Meeting and the President wanted me to submit all necessary documents at the next meeting. When I mentioned this to two local officials who were in Hiroshima at that time I at once felt that they were not happy about it. They had gone to the hotel and mentioned that it was one of my election rackets. They were more interested in cutting the throat of one individual. Between Hiroshima and Colombo I was torpedoed by a few that controlled athletics today. I was snubbed by the Hon. Minister on my return and I had to throw away the fruitful assurances for the event brought by me. They did not stop at that. They went to the extent of removing me from the Asian Council. A local official at a dinner party in 1992 in Malaysia had vowed to pull me out from the Asian Council. A very Senior Official had pleaded with another power hungry local official to at least allow me to attend the last Council Meeting. But he was adamant and he succeeded in pulling me out. In 1982 he created history in Sri Lanka Athletics and in 1995 he created history in the Asian Region by pulling me out. Asian AAA wrote to me stating that it was the most unpleasant task for the Asian AAA and ended up saying that they look forward to see me as soon as possible.

1997-The AAA had decided to recommend someone who had contributed for the development of athletics in Sri Lanka for an award from the IAAF on the 75th Anniversary of Sri Lanka Athletics. When the President at that time had decided to take the matter up at a meeting, a certain power hungry official had posed himself at the meeting and wanted his name proposed. Though the President requested him to leave the place he completely refused. Finally the President had to walk out without holding the meeting. In 1998 when I called the attention of the then President with regard to this matter he showed no interest at all.

1998- when I attended the Bangkok Asian Games while having a chat with my foreign friends they told me that Indonesia was to stage the Year 2000 Games and kept Malaysia as a stand-by. My Malaysian friends told me that if I am interested they would stand down. When the Hon. Minister had come to know about this he wanted me to go and try my best to get it for Sri Lanka and he sent me to Singapore at the expense of the Government to discuss same. From the AAA office in Singapore along with Mr. Maurice Nicholas I spoke to the President Mr. Bob Hassan and discussed it with him. He gave me an assurance that if they are not staging it he will see that I definitely get it. He immediately offered me to stage the Asian Marathon in Sri Lanka. I came back and informed the Hon. Minister but unfortunately certain people with vested interests were not in favour of it. But today the very same people are going all out to stage the Year 2002 Asian Meet in Sri Lanka. I wish them all the best.

This is the way how I wasted my time, energy and funds for the advancement of athletics in Sri Lanka. But I was not resourceful enough to overcome the wily machinations of certain wolves who always had taken athletics only for their personal benefits. In my endeavours stated above I have been extremely lucky and privileged to have the benefit of the sponsorships from establishments like M/s. Ceylinco Group, Nestle, Pure Beverages and Bata. I also appreciate and acknowledge with gratitude the magnanimity of personalities like Deshamanya Mudalige and Mr. Anil Mudalige for their concern to help the needy athletes. I should also thank most profusely Hon. S.B. Dissanayake, Minister of Sports and Samurdhi Affairs for his genuine concern to uplift athletics in our country. At the same time I should state it is my frank opinon that his genuineness is thwarted by the wily machinations of just a few "Athletic Minded" individuals who are interested in developing themselves through the sport.

I also wish to mention quite gratefully the previous Minister of Sports namely Hon. M. Vincent Perera and Hon. C. Nanda Mathew who had been helpful to me wherever possible.

Before putting down the curtain I gratefully acknowledge the services and the support I received from great men in the athletics such as - Messrs C.T. Van Geyzel, Julian Grero, David Thambiah, Royce de Mel and S.A. Dissanayake. Though they are not with us any more they understood me and helped me as best as they could during my active athletic career.

Great players and the captaincy

By Ramesh Joseph

IT is once ironic and more than a mere coincidence that three of the finest cricketers of our times, each destined to surely join the ranks of all -time greats by the time they say goodbye to the game, should have relinquished their jobs as team leaders almost at the same time. And it is even more of an irony that history will judge two of them, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, as poor captains, and the third, Wasim Akram, as no more than a passable imitation of the authoritarian giant who was his mentor - Imran Khan.

Not long after Tendulkar informed the Indian Cricket Board that he would like to step down as captain after the two Tests against South Africa, Lara himself resigned the captaincy which had always appeared to put too heavy a burden on the little Trinidadian's shoulders. As for Akram, the pummelling his team received at the hands of the Aussies - surpassed only Tendulkar's Indians as a humiliation and a matter of shame - might have forced his hand in the twilight of a great career.

To be sure , Akram's decision to give up captaincy responsibilities at a time when he is struggling to stay fit and regain the sort of form that marked him out as a genuine match-winner on a big stage, was nowhere as surprising as the resignation of Lara and the fact that Tendulkar has decided never to lead India again. While Akram may not have too much left to offer, Tendulkar and Lara are still in their prime as batsmen.

If it is obvious that all three were weighed down by the burden of leadership and pressures that captains face in countries where cricket is a quasi-religion, then it is equally clear that gifted cricketers need not necessarily make great captains, although Akram did have a lot more success as team leader than Tendulkar and Lara.

While the West Indies were beaten in nine of the 15 Tests they have played under Lara, then India has not done a whole lot better under Tendulkar with the drubbing Down Under, and the home defeat against South Africa had done further damage to the captaincy record that is hardly anything to rave about. And as batsmen of genius, both men lost out in the time they were leading their teams. There were times, indeed, when both Tendulkar and Lara looked visibly careworn and almost helpless on the field.

For all the differences there may be in their personalities as well as in their socio-cultural backgrounds and their batting styles, Tendulkar and Lara certainly have a few things in common , quite apart from their dismal records as captains. While they were vying for the title of the best batsman in the world, their teams were often plumbing depths that sides featuring batsmen of class of Tendulkar and Lara may seldom be expected to descend to.

That's the pity, really. While Tendulkar and Lara may never get to be spoken of as charismatic, inspiring leaders who steered their teams to new highs as much with their batting as with their qualitative leadership, what is a greater irony is that they may never get to be part of a great team ever in their career.

Lara, on the other hand, blossomed at a time when the West Indies were clearly on the decline after dominating the sport for more than a decade and a half, first under Clive Lloyd and then under Viv Richards. While his individual brilliance helped the team retain its star status now and again, it was clear that not even Brian Lara was going to be able to lift the Windies out of the pits and help them match the heights attained under Lloyd and Richards.

As for Tendulkar, he will perhaps never be able to savour the sort of success that India's first all-time-great batsman Sunil Gavaskar did in a team situation. Gavaskar was not only part of the teams that recorded series wins in the West Indies and England but also figured in the ones that won the World Cup in 1983 and the WCC tournament two years later. If he seems destined to rewrite almost every one of Gavaskar's records as a batsman, then it is a pity that Tendulkar, for all his heroics, may never figure in a great team.

Murali the magician

Twenty six wickets, in just three Test matches,
Incredible but true, Murali really bewitches,
A hero for Sri Lanka, a tormentor to his opponents,
Enough material for years, for cricket correspondents.

He gallantly warms up, to cast his magic spell,
The batsman is puzzled, from his face you can tell,
Murali simply glances, he side-steps, he advances,
The wicket is taken, and the bowler gleefully dances.

It's a rare delight to watch him, run up and bowl,
To bamboozle and capture wickets, is his only goal
Against him the opposition at the wicket, fears to stand,
Because of the magic balls, that he spins from his hand.

He ties up the batsman, in a spell-binding spin,
His captain has told him, get them out to win,
Some dare and whack him, for an almighty six,
But at the next ball, they are in a terrible fix.

Like a graceful gazelle, he's agile in the field,
His acrobatic fielding and accurate throws, results yield,
Though sometimes he misses, and is full of blushes,
But he soon makes amends, with classy catches.

Murali strides to the wicket, padded up to the teeth,
He draws his heavy bat, like a sword from it's sheath,
Whether it is a six, a four or even a lousy duck,
Murali simply smiles, over his good or bad luck.

He charms and mesmerizes, Murali, our magician,
Our ambassador of goodwill, our master tactician,
Hats off to our hero, and three hearty cheers,
He knows how to laugh, amid failures and tears.

- Dr. Baptist Croos FSC

Little Master Hanif, an asset to Pakistan

By Bernie Wijesekera

Besides covering Sri Lanka's epoch-making tour to Pakistan where the Lankans matched their skills to down the Pakistanis in their backyard to win the one-day series 3-0 and the Test series 2-1. The team won much admiration for their exploits and for their charming off the field ways for the country and for themselves plus their exemplary behaviour.

Had the opportunity of meeting people from all walks of life. With a friendly and meaningful dialogue they gave this scribe much food for thought. One of them was none other than Hanif Mohamed, the cricketing legend of Pakistan. A highly respected personality - a coach, an administrator and a commentator, who is doing much for its further development. Met Hanif, at the Media Box in the final Test at Karachi for his views, for the promotion and development of the game in general.

He hails from a cricket loving family where all his brothers played the game at the highest level. He said he owes his success in cricket to his parents- father Shiek Ismail and mother Ameer Bee, who gave them all the encouragement. He has created many milestones, be it at international or the local level.

The cricket academy, in Pakistan is one of the main contributions for the promotion and development of the game at the grassroots level.

Q: How do you pick the boys?

A: Well, 5,000 boys were picked from the age group 12-19 and were put through their paces for two months. Each boy was given three to four times to display his talents.

Q: Don't you think its a grandiose project?

A:You are right. But assistance was given by UBI, PIA Habib Bank etc. Finally, the cream was picked - 100 boys, who were deserving and was enlisted for further training. It was closed for a while during the Ramazan period. But ironically ten nets were given on rent for a businessman for six months. This was done with a view to earn money by the powers that be. It was not fair by the Karachi boys and me, he added.

Today Australian cricket is on a high pedestal - thanks to its academy, he added. This is the nursery where the talented players are trained on the correct lines. An academy is a 'must'. I have given my opinion to the PCB to formulate it for the future betterment of the game. The ball is in their court, he added.

Q: Have you begun coaching players abroad?

A: Yes. Owill Shah who is now playing for Middlesex and the present England (under 19) captain. They were fortunate to get my experience and know-how, who will be future Test players. I was attached to the P.I.A. as manager cricket and general manager. 20 players were selected and was trained by me. I am proud to mention that six of them played for the country namely, Shoaib Mohamed, Anilk Dalpath (wicket-keeper), Asif Mutjaba, Rashid Kham, Iqbal, Sikkander (leg-spin), Rizwan-ul-Zaman. Beside there are quite a number of them, who have excelled at the club level. PIA, is doing much for the game for its development and also give job opportunities for talented youngsters.

Hanif said, that the academy is not functioning now for the last six months - a setback for the game. He is highly respected among past Pakistani greats, and an idol among the cricketing fraternity despite years rolling by. Hanif, brought back nostalgic memories, whilst playing in the Lancashire League. The West Indian fast bowler Roy Gilchrist, when one shudders to stand up to his pace. One day he invited Gilchrist for lunch. Roy, came and enjoyed the meal which was prepared by Hanif, who was a good chef, besides wielding the willow.

Hanif, I am a good friend of your here, but at the middle I am your enemy, he said. But Hanif retorted, I've not invited you with a view to getting around you. But the little master from Pakistan knew, how to play any bowler be it thunderbolts or otherwise. He had the technique to adjust his play. Incidentally, he scored 334 against the West Indies, in the Caribbean.

The Cricketers Academy is a must even for Sri Lanka to further its image at international level. This run and managed by people with ability, know-how, experience and those who command respect and has the game at heart, but not the ones for mere monetary gain.

In Australia, the Academy is sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank. Sri Lanka, too is not short of sponsors, but they will give the encouragement provided its run by professionals and the men that matter. Hatton National Bank is supporting club cricket and gives job opportunities to deserving youngsters. Quite a number of them are in the national team. On their own HNB could field a team to play 'A' div. club cricket, like Pakistan's Habib Bank and the PIA to name a few.

Incidentally four out of his five brothers - Wazir, Hanif, Mustaq and Sadiq had the honour of playing for their adopted country. Raees, was the unlucky one. His son, Shoaib, too later donned the Pakistan cap. Today Sadiq, is an international umpire. It was their sheer love, single-minded devotion, dedication and discipline that helped them whatever success and national and in the international scene, he added. If it was not for the personal interest taken by my parents we would have not been able to in our passion to indulge in sports, Mother, is the Queen of my Heart, as for my brothers too.

Gary Sobers' reign as Windies captain

Contd. from last week

The first setback to his captaincy came during the MCC tour of the West Indies in '67-'68. The first three Tests of that series had ended in draws. In the fourth Test at Trinidad, Sobers declared the West Indies second innings at 92 for 2 and set England a target of two hundred and fifteen runs to chase in one hundred and sixty five minutes. England won the Test by seven wickets and with it the rubber. All because of a bold and sporty declaration by Sobers for which he was torn to pieces by the press. He did not repent, nor, could he see any controversy for declaring. When he was interviewed by the press as to why he declared, Sobers said, 'I made the declaration to keep the game alive. If I had not done so the game would have died. This way we had a chance of winning. England had never scored more than 40 runs per hour during the series and I never expected them to do it. During the innings we bowled almost 20 overs per hour, it would have been more than average for Tests if we had bowled eighteen overs per hour. And it would have been much faster than the rate that England bowled even when their spinners were on. I could have very easily closed the game. But that never entered my mind. I wanted to go for a win.'

A cynic might say that Sobers was naive, or that he got his wire crossed. But he certainly gave practical proof of his principles. Sobers's declaration that day in Trinidad which gives the other side also a fair target to chase is very rare, or, unheard of in Test cricket. The normal declaration in a Test comes only when one team has made sure it just cannot lose, or, is nothing more than a token gesture when a draw has become inevitable.

There are two main reasons, first, is the fear of losing, and, secondly one Test is not complete by itself. It is only one battle which consists of five Tests. Therefore, the main object is to win the series rather than one particular Test. The end result is that a high percentage of Tests had ended in dull draws, because most captains prefer to settle for a draw rather than take a risk of losing the Test and probably the series. In fact one could never dream of an England captain making the type of declaration that Sobers made in that Test.

When Sobers made the declaration, England thought it was some fiendish plot by him. They were immediately suspicious, which was hardly surprising because though they had encountered sporty declarations in county cricket, it was entirely foreign to them where a Test match was concerned. England were also worried by the sensational collapse in their first innings, when Basil Butcher of all people ran through them to return the sensational figures of 5 for 30. Their immediate reaction was that they might be routed again by the West Indian spin attack. But Boycott and Edrich gave them a good start, and when Edrich was out, Cowdrey joined Boycott. Both were then among the best players of spin bowling in the world. But it was not until the tea interval did it dawn on England that they could not only avoid defeat, but also win the match in which, upto that time they had been completely outplayed. It must also be remembered that in addition to the controversial declaration with only two wickets down and the score less than a hundred, Sobers had also closed the first innings at 526 for 7. A total which anybody would reckon to be guaranteed against defeat. It was also argued that Sobers misread the state of the wicket and Boycott and Cowdrey batted much better than he anticipated. Also, once an English win appeared on the horizon, Sobers did not have the pace bowlers to apply the brakes.

The West Indies press tore him to pieces. They had hailed Sobers's introduction of Basil Butcher in the first innings as a bowler as inspired, but now they were howling for his blood for having thrown the Test and also the series.

But what they failed to see was that he may have also won and more what his gesture meant to cricket in general. True, he was charging at an on coming train. But it was certainly a gallant charge.

- Bruce Maurice

Air Force weightlifters are champions for fifth time

Sri Lanka Air Force emerged as champions for the 5th consecutive year at the Weightlifting National championship, held at the YMCA Hall, Kandy, on the March 18. Air Force totalled 24 points with Sri Lanka Army in the second spot with 13 points.

The event was sponsored by the National Insurance Corporation, and was held under the patronage of S.B. Dissanayake, the Minister for Youth Affairs, Sports and Rural Development.

When contacted it was reliably learnt that it was possible to achieve this victory due to the encouragement given by the Air Force Commander Air Marshal J. Weerakkody and the strategy planned by the chairman of the Air Force Weightlifting Team Air Cdr. Lalaka Peiris, Sqn. Ldr. Channa Premarathna Secretary, Sqn. Ldr. Chanakya Senarathne the Asst. Secretary, W/O S.U.B. Sooriyampola - Coach and F/S K.A. Kumaradasa - the Manager. It is also understood that the chairman of Wieghtlifting Federation Mr. S.A. Wijewickrama and the Secretary Mr. R.B. Wickramasinghe too had rendered assistance to the Sri Lanka Air Force, in bringing the lifters, to the required standard. The winners of the Air Force team who won the events are as follows: (69Kg category) R.C.Abeyrathna 3rd Place, (77Kg category) D.I.Nicholes 1st Place, A.G.S.Jayaweera 2nd place, (94 category) R.M Wilman 3rd Place, (105Kg category) A.P.A.R. Bandara 1st Place, J.C.Dushmantha 2nd Place, (Over 105Kg) N.N. Athukorale 1st Place, A.H.M. Yaseen 3rd Place.


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