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4th June 2000
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No more cricket here for me 

Roshan now hopes to turn out for Ferntree Gully in Australia again next year

By Leonard Ratnayake
Replying to recent speculations in the media and in the public arena, Sri Lanka's discarded opening batsman and world class fielder, Roshan Mahanama says that he has no plans of playing cricket for his country again. 

Mahanama says he went through a lot during his cricketing career in Sri Lanka and wasn't rewarded enough for his services. The 34-year-old stylish right-handed batsman is now contemplating whether to play domestic cricket in Sri Lanka next year or to accept an offer to play for Ferntree Gully Footballers Cricket Club in Melbourne, Australia. 

During an interview, Mahanama, also denied being approached by bookmakers during the home series against Australia in 1992 and ever having a dialogue with former cricketer Sidath Wettamuny about it. 

However he did reveal that many of his team mates had received phone calls from anonymous bookmakers and had discussed it with the team members and the management. 

Mahanama made his Test debut during a home series against Pakistan in 1985/86 and since then has taken part in 52 matches, 89 innings to accumulate 2576 runs at an average of 29.27 with four centuries and 11 fifties. He has held 56 catches and holds a world record for the highest ever partnership of 576 runs for the second wicket with Sanath Jayasuriya, during which he scored a career best 225 runs. 

His ODI debut was also made in the same tour since then batting in 198 innings in 213 matches to score 5162 runs at an average of 29.49 with four centuries and 35 fifties. He has held 107 catches. 

Following are excerpts from an interview: 

Q: Roshan, its almost ten months after you quit international cricket, but still certain sections are urging you to come back to the game. How do you consider this? 

A. I took my decision when they picked two squads for the one day internationals and the Test matches against Australia last year for which I was excluded despite performing well in the 1999 World Cup in England. 

Now some are saying, "It is a pity that he had to retire so early. He had a couple of years of cricket left in him and so on." But they should have looked into that, at that time, not now. 

What I can't accept is the reasoning. They said they were coming up with a youth policy and that they were looking at the next World Cup. That policy has now gone for a six. It is the same old lot who were around before. 

They categorised four of the senior players and then the two comparatively younger players were out of the team there's no youth policy in that. And now they keep on changing players, with the senior players coming in and out. 

I think its not the age that they should look into it's the fitness, fielding and performance that counts. If they were saying that my performances weren't good I can't accept that either because I was the second highest scorer for Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup. 

I have retired now and I have no plans of playing for Sri Lanka again. 

Q: In your resignation letter, it was stated that it was a decision painfully arrived at after careful thought. What made it so painful? 

A. To be honest, cricket was basically my life. I was playing cricket from the age of nine until I was 33. It was cricket and nothing but cricket. I only did my O/Ls and did not want to continue further studies, because I decided to follow cricket. When you do something for so long and to leave it abruptly was obviously painful. I always felt that I had another couple of years of cricket left in me and that made it worse. The way they treated me added salt to the wounds. 

Q: You are a person who has suffered a lot from controversial selections, How do you see the role of being a selector and what do you think is needed to be a good selector? 

A. A selector is a person who should have immense experience representing his country and have played cricket for a long period. In my personal view it should be a full-time job. Most of our selectors rely on paper scorecards. I don't think it's right by the players. I know in Australia and in other countries they make it a full-time job and pay the selectors to go and watch the matches. I think they should do that here. I know I was affected purely because of that. After getting dropped there were some selectors who told me, "Sorry we had to go by paper and your performance wasn't good enough." That obviously means they hadn't been watching the game. 

Q: There were speculations that you will change your present club, Bloomfield SC for the on-coming domestic premier season. Is it true? 

A. No, I haven't really decided that. People want to know whether I would play for Bloomfield or not. Bloomfield had a bit of a bad season last time and I know that there has been a few problems. There were a few other clubs who have given me some offers after coming back from Australia - CCC, Galle CC, Sebastianites, Tamil Union. However my allegiance will always be with Bloomfield. 

At the moment I am not sure that I want to stay here. I had one season in Australia playing for Ferntree Gully Footballers Cricket Club in Melbourne. They wanted me to continue for them and promised to get me Australian citizenship. But Sri Lanka is my country and I told them that I had to go back to Sri Lanka. After I returned two months ago I had no plans to go back to Australia, I thought of playing club cricket here for one or two seasons to finish off my cricketing career. 

But now I have realised the situation here and am very upset about so many things, that now I am re-considering the offer which I got in Australia. But that is also not finalised, we've got to wait and see how things work out, I will go there to play a season or two but not to live there. 

Q: Every cricketer has his ups and downs in his performance throughout a career. What was the most difficult time you think you went through? 

A. There have been few instances where it has been hard for me. But the last two or three years before I retired were really tough because I was in and out of the side and playing at various positions. If you ask any international cricketer, if one does not have a game plan, mentally it is really tough. But I am happy because I have done what the side wanted me to do and the country wanted at that time. 

Q: What was the period you liked most and are most proud of in your career? 

A. I would say number one was winning the World Cup. That was the greatest thing not only for me, but for all Sri Lankans. During the World Cup in the semi-final against India, when we were in a difficult situation at 25 for 3 I went in and did my job to the maximum I could with Aravinda. I am thus happy to have contributed towards winning the World Cup. 

Another incident, which gave me a lot of satisfaction was the world record for the highest ever stand in Test cricket. 

Q: You joined our elite group of cricket captains in Sri Lanka, but it was unfortunately for only a single tour. Do you regret not having that opportunity for a longer period? 

A. No, not at all, because the captaincy was not the thing which I was looking for and was working towards. It was just that I always wanted to do something for my country and the side and whatever came my way I accepted. At least looking back on my career I can be satisfied that I led the country for one tour. I don't regret not being the captain for a longer period. 

Q: You are a cricketer who has played cricket in Australia. How do you see the domestic structure here and compared with the Australians?

A. Its difficult to compare because Australia is always very well organized and they have got so many facilities. When you compare the facilities they have and the facilities we have here there is a huge difference. We should be happy with the way we are playing at the international level with the facilities available. We also have fewer clubs compared to what they have in Australia. One thing I can suggest is that we should have a BCCSL organised Cricket Academy. 

Q: Diverting to another topical subject, Roshan, you were one of the three players who were alleged to have been approached by bookmakers during a home Test series against Australia in 1992. Was there any such incident? 

I totally deny any approach on that particular occasion. Like I said earlier, this was the second time Sidath let me down, first time he dropped me from the side for no reason, now he comes out and says something which I never told him about. We were not approached by any bookmakers during that particular series. 

Sidath also indicated that we has also requested for police protection but he has got his facts mixed up, we asked for police protection in 1994 when I was captain prior to our triangular tournament in Sharjah. 

Q: Have you been approached with regard to match-fixing any time before or after that series? 

A. We were approached by anonymous callers saying "would you like to work with us and so on." That had been a quite open thing, we had talked to not only to Sidath but to other players, current and past, who were close to us during these instances. Because we didn't have anything to hide. We were open about it. We were just getting calls and we never had discussions or meetings with them because we didn't want to do that. 

Q: Have you noticed presence of bookmakers with your team-mates? 

A. We were just getting calls, and that's how they start it. We never encouraged those callers and we were not involved in it. We have had discussions at a few team meetings about not getting tempted and not entertaining these sort of people. 

Q: To finish with, Roshan, you are a father of three kids, how do you manage your time to be with the family and to play cricket? 

A. As sportsmen we have got to make sacrifices, whenever I was free when I was playing for the country, I tried to be with the family. Now that I am retired from international cricket, I have given priority to my family life. Then when I got the offer to go and play in Australia I decided to take my family also, because there is no point in you playing club cricket away from home. Of course when you play for your country you have to make sacrifices. But when it comes to other obligations my priority will be my family. Even now I am doing my own business, I have planned it in a way that I spend more time with my family. 

'Who decides our Olympic participation?'

A recent news item noted a bizarre statement made by the NOC Secretary, "But NOC will definitely not consider Conrad Francis' timings, however a good swimmer or an athlete, will have to face trials and prove his or her timings". 

How depressing a statement this would be to Conrad Francis who won a scholarship to Australia with the sole objective to represent his country at the highest levels of competition as would be of the Olympic games. If this statement is correctly quoted, then why on earth would we squander the scholarship funds of generous donors to hone their skills. All over the world aspiring Olympic athletes get scholarships to those countries that specialize in a particular sport. Example: Americans go to New Zealand to excel in Kyaking, to Bulgaria to learn the skills in weightlifting, to Cuba for boxing, and so forth. Sri Lanka got the opportunity to get to Australia, the powerhouse in swimming, among other sports.

What knowledge has the NOC to take such a stupid stand. The NAASU selectors don't have a clue as to how a selection be made. Political power and influence take precedence over performance. Then lets take the case of the two swimmers that went to the 1988 Seoul Olympic games. These two swimmers bamboozled the then NOC officials by providing timings confirmed by their respective coaches with no authentication from the controlling organization. The result being that in the most ideal and conducive circumstances, these two swimmers could not even keep the timing they posted for selection leave alone establishing their personal best, which often is the case at these ideal and adrenaline charged Olympic games. The same was that of a shooter who went on a joy ride at the benevolence of the then government in office.

The recent Australian National Championships and Olympic swimming trials give a strange story to the world of swimming. Led by Ian Thorpe who set the pool ablaze with world records. The Australian Olympic trials saw no less than four world records erased including the longest held world record that of 19 years by Susan O'Neill of Mary T. Meagher of the United States, clocking 2:05.81 in the 200 metres women's butterfly, shaving 0.15 seconds off Meagher's record of 2:05.96 set way back on August 13, 1981.

The seventeen-year-old swimming sensation, Ian Thorpe smashed his own world record in the 400 metres free style clocking 3:41.33. Confessing that he only wanted to qualify for the Olympics - did not realize that he had improved on his world record set in August 1999. 

In less than 24 hours he landed his second world record, again breaking his 200 metres freestyle record with a time of 1:45.69 shaving 0.13 seconds off his previous mark. "Australia's Dawn Frazer, one of only two swimmers to win gold at three different Olympics, commented Thorpe could prove to be the greatest swimmer of all time. I think he could hold the world records in every freestyle distance from 100 to 1500, if he wanted. He is that good."

Butterflier and Sydney teenager, Geoff Huegill also set a world record in the 50 metres with a time of 23.60 seconds to better the record held by Russian Denis Pankratov.

Ending in tears, Samantha Riley, failed to qualify in the 100/200 metres breaststroke. The former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist failed against a star-studded field of younger swimmers.

This illustrates the level of competition for selection to the Olympic games as the host country is expected to rip as much as twenty (20) medals in swimming alone. 

As would be noted that these super-star swimmers have relatively younger coaches deploying some of the most advanced technical methodologies in swimming. The Australians have shot pass the United States, once again becoming the leading nation in swimming.

Take our own case, the harassment given to our own sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe and swimmer Conrad Francis give the impression that the NOC and the ministry give a damn if we excel or not at international level, expect a few that benefit from the largesse of the minister and ministry. Instead of encouraging - these officials discourage our young athletes.

The AAA and NAASU, NSAs responsible for getting the best for our athletes are engaged in a campaign to deter the best of our competitors to excel at these international events so that they can prosper from the huge financial benefits provided by the Olympic solidarity funding and other benefits. If Conrad Francis were to face a selection trial in Colombo, it is the responsibility of the NAASU and/or the NOC to bring him down at their expense and not expect young Francis to bear the cost.

Eventually, the largest number of persons who would go to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, would be political lackeys and their favoured officials to enjoy the lavishness of the IOC which is in the first place given to participating competitors selected in a trial in accordance with the IOC selection criteria. Such a possibility is not even on the horizon.

A clean up of the sport is necessary to bring it to its glory.

(In asssociation with C. Vijitha Fernando, Duncan White Sports Foundation. The views expressed do not reflect that of the Foundation.) - AF

Countdown to the Olympics - 102 days 11 

Chronicling the Games

(Part 1)
By Annesley Fereira
When the French educator, Baron Pierre de Coubertin proposed in 1894, the revival of the ancient Olympc Games on an internationl scale in less than two years the first modern Olymic Games were held in Athens, Greece, almost near the site of the ancient games. On April 6, 1896, King George I of Greece opened the first modern Olympic Games with spectators of about 60,000 that gathered in the newly refurbished stadium to witness this event to what it has become to be over 100 years later.

Since its renaissance, just over 100 years past, the Olympic Games have become to be the greatest sports event in the world. No matter what an athlete may win in any other international championships, competing in the Olympc Games still remains the only supreme ambition or achievement that an elite athlete would aspire.

Let's look at the 100 years of the olympic games between the Athens Games of 1896 through the Atlanta Games of 1996 - and with a spectacular millennium Olympic Games to be held in Sydney 2000 that will cap the 100 years of this super event.

1986 - Athens: tennis, track & field, fencing, weight-lifting, cycling, wrestling, shooting, swimming and gymnastics were the nine events that were competed at the first modern Olympiad. Though rowing and sailing events were scheduled, they had to be cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Cricket and soccer events were also cancelled for lack of participating teams. Winners were presented with an olive branch, a certificate and a silver medal. The runners-up received a laurel sprig and a copper medal. The first participant to win an olympic event was American James Brenden Connolly, who took the triple jump clearing 44 feet 11 3/4 inches or 13.71 metres.

1900 - Paris: Because the Greeks had laid claim to hold the Olympic Games in Greece, controversy arose as to the holding of the games of the second Olympiad. Lack of organization by the Parisians led to the games receiving hardly any notice. Poor and miserable facilities posed enormous hardship to competing athletes. The games lasted from May to October. A range of trophies were awarded because the modern medal system was not yet in place. Winning three events, high jump, standing long jump and standing triple (Hop, Step) jump, the American track & field star, Ray Ewry went on to a glittering Olympic career to compete until 1908, and won no less than ten Olympic titles.

1904 - St Louis: Because of the poor organization of the 1900 Paris games, once again the public took little notice of the games as an independent entity. Enormous cost of travel to St. Louis saw a diminished competitor participation. Of the 681 competitors, almost 500 came from the United States and 50 from Canada. United States dominated the track & field events. Thomas Kiely of Ireland won the combined events, later to become the decathlon. This punishing ten events: 100, 1500 meters, 110 meters hurdles, walking, high jump, long jump, pole vault, shot, hammer and weight-throwing were all completed in a day. American marathoner, Fred Lorz created an outrageous scandal, when it was discovered that an escort provided Lorz a ride and drop him off at a short distance from the finish line, which led to a lifetime ban, but lifted subsequently.

1908 - London: The games were originally to be held in Rome. The Italians withdrew hosting the third Olympiad because of the eruption of the 1906 unscheduled games. A crowd in excess of 100,000 witnessed the games at the White City stadium at Shepherd's Bush, West London. The events included for the first time a 1600 metre relay consisting of two 200 metres spirint and one 400 metres and one 800 metres runs. The most successful participants were the three gold medalists: British swimmer, Henry Taylor, 400 and 1500 metres freestyle and 4 x 200 metres free, and US athlete Melvin Sheppard, 800, 1500 and relay events.

1912 - Stockholm: The well organized Stockholm Games saw the use for the first time electric timing devices and public address system. Modern pentathlon, designed by Baron de Coubertin, was added to the programme, consisting of horse riding, fencing, swimming, shooting and cross-country running. American Indian athlete Jim Thorpe was the most outstanding, winning the track & field, pentathlon and decathlon. In 1913 Jim Thorpe was stripped of his medals by the rigid rule imposer, the IOC, for having recived payment for playing baseball. In 1982 Jim Thorpe was rehabilitated and his medals restored to his family, since, this great athlete had died in 1953.

1916 - Berlin: Cancelled on account of World War I

1920 - Antwerp: The games of the seventh Olympiad saw the losers of the world war, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey not allowed to participate. For lack of funds the games were not impressive. The Olympic flag bearing five coloured interwoven rings symbolizing the unity of the five continents, for the first time became the official symbol of the Olympic games. After twenty years of its existence, the Olympic movement survived many a turmoil,was only possible for the unwavering faith of Baron Pierre de Coubertin had in the Olympic games as the only unifying event in the world.

1924 - Paris: For the second time in the short history of the Olympic Games, Paris hosted the games - nearly 3000 competitiors from 44 countries participated. Paavo Nurmi was the star of the games winning five gold medals, two of which were won in the space of an hour. Tennis was dropped from the programme and reintroduced some sixty years later in the 1988 Seoul Games. The newly built 10,000 seat swimming facility at Tourelles, competitors swam in lanes supported by cork floats.

In asociation with C. Vijitha Fernando, Duncan White Sports Foundation.

Games Nations Competitors Competitors Medals Medals Medals Medals Medals

Olympiad year city country when held representing men women nation gold silver bronze total

1st 1896 Athens Greece April 06-15 13 311 0 USA 11 6 2 19

IInd 1900 Paris France May 20 - October 28 22 1319 11 France 29 41 32 102

IIIrd 1904 St Louis USA July 01- November 23 12 681 6 USA 80 86 72 238

IVth 1908 London Great Britain April 27 - October 31 23 1999 36 Great Britain 56 50 39 100

Vth 1912 Stockholm Sweden May 05 - July 22 28 2490 57 Sweden 24 24 17 65

VIth 1916 Berlin Germany Cancelled World War I 

VIIth 1920 Antwerp Belgium April 20 - September 12 29 2543 64 USA 41 27 28 96

VIIIth 1924 Paris France May 04 - July 27 44 2956 136 USA 45 27 27 99

St. Anthony's Panadura don pads again 

By Marcus Joseph
After a lapse of nearly four decades cricket has once again come to stay at St.Anthony's College, Panadura. Starting from grass-root level all over again the College has built up two Junior teams, Under 13 and l5, who are scheduled to play in the current Inter-school Cricket Tournaments conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association. 

Golden era of the College dawned in 1948 with the late Rev. Fr. Alex Ranasinghe who was then the Master-in-Charge of Cricket (Senior team) at St.Peter's College, Bambalapitiya assuming office as Principal. With his efficiency and able administration the College soon gained popularity not only as a leading educational institution in the island but also for its sports activities. 

Fr. Ranasinghe's main interest was to develop cricket and for this purpose he selected boys mainly from the town area and coached them at the Panadura public esplanade, providing all required facilities. In his endeavour he was ably assisted by two masters, W.W.Fernando and L.V.Berenger. He built up a senior cricket team and after a couple of months arranged inter-school matches, first with some schools in the Kalutara District.

ln the second year the team did creditably well to beat schools like Tissa Central, Kalutara Vidyalaya and Methodist College, Moratuwa. They lost to more experienced Holy Cross College, St.Sebastians', Moratuwa and Carey College Colombo. ln the third year although they lost to Holy Cross again, they topped 300 runs in the second lnnings with their skipper hitting a hurricane 146 runs which included fourteen fours and eight sixers, mostly against the bowling of rival skipper Dooland Buultjens, who was then regarded as the fastest schoolboy bowler and who later won his Ceylon cap. In the same year they beat Carey College captained by G.D.Burtus, who too later played for Ceylon.

The popularity of the boys was such that some of them were invited to play for the Panadura Sports Club and the Catamarans S.C., Moratuwa in first class cricket. Mention must be made of the College skipper who was at the time regarded as one of the best, if not the best, wicket-keeper/batsman in schools and his brother S. Joseph, the fastest leg spin bowler in schools. Among the other outstanding cricketers were Dilson de Mel, L.P.Samaranayake, S.Gaffoor, F.Joseph and M.Dharmadasa and in later years Mervyn J.Cooray, who later became the President of the Kalutara District Cricket Foundation who helped immensely for the progress of cricket in the district, and L.Joseph. Incidentally the College team holds a record in that four brothers captained the side.

With the sudden departure of Fr. Ranasinghe to America on a scholarship in 1955 and folowed by the College opting to go under State control, sports died a natural death. 

Gamini promoted as Major General

Gamini Jayasundara, a well known sportsman from Dharmaraja College, Kandy has been promoted as a Major General with immediate effect. 

While serving as Deputy Commander / OCC he was appointed to the present position as Commander of 51 Division in Jaffna.

Jayasundara represented Dharmaraja College in cricket, Soccer and Hockey in late sixties. After joining the Army in 1971 he continued his sports career representing the Army teams. He had to abandon his sports activities because his service demanded him to serve mostly in operational areas.

He is the sixth of seven brothers in the family including DIG Western Province (North) Daya Jayasundara and SSP Sarath Jayasundara. 


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