Sports Plus
1st October 2000
Front Page
Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business
Sports| Mirror Magazine
The Sunday Times on the Web

Williams, simply irresistible 

Avail of rain slipped past Arthur Ashe Stadium, and as if a curtain had been drawn back, out stepped Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport in costume and character.

In an orange sherbet halter-dress, Williams wore a sparkling choker and earrings that shimmered in the towering banks of light. In a pale pink ensemble, Davenport blended more passively into the spectacle.

Once their United States Open final began to unfold, the audacity and confidence that now ribbons inside the spirit of Williams sustained her through the most precarious situations. It was pure defiance. At the moment Williams wilfully overcame a 4-1 deficit in the first set, upon the point that gave her a startling 5-4 lead, she strutted off the court for the changeover, with her head tilted high.

It's all in the attitude. One year ago, a dispirited Williams was slumped in the players' box and hidden behind a hood as she witnessed her little sister Serena take the first Grand Slam title in the family at the United States Open. This time, Venus Williams was the one who burst into joy on match point, happily staggered over to the players' box and celebrated her second Grand Slam victory in a row after her 6-4, 7-5 victory.

The celebration could not be contained. Once she embraced her mother, Oracene, after she hugged her sister Serena, Richard Williams worked his way down from the seats. Unlike any other parent in memory, he walked back with his daughter onto the court. Just a few yards from where Davenport was seated on the sideline, Richard Williams began to shuffle his feet, spin around in circles and point to the sky.

"I always turn my head," Davenport said. "It's better not to see how they act." 

In July, Richard Williams danced on the roof of a television booth after Venus Williams tucked away Davenport at Wimbledon. This time, there seemed to be even more Oomph to the Williams family reaction. The spotlight-needy Richard Williams - who left his daughter's semi-final match a day earlier when Venus Williams appeared on the verge of losing - appeared to be sending a message to Davenport.

During the championship, Davenport and Martina Hingis, weary of the all-Williams, all-the-time hype, formed their own alliance. In the locker room, they tried to motivate each other to break up an all-Williams final. Hingis failed, but Davenport did her part by eliminating Serena Williams in the quarter-finals.

"I think Lindsay and Martina better come to me for advice, because they're not winning," Richard Williams said after the match.

The controversy only seemed to steel Venus Williams for the final. After Davenport began the match by using a familiar strategy - crushing the ball into Williams' wingspan - she gave her opponent life when her serve came unglued.

In the sixth game of the first set, Davenport began with a double fault. Then she sent in a stream of second serves that allowed Williams to line up and pummel away, leaving Davenport on her heels. The same scenario also unfolded in the eighth game of the set.

"I had been playing the wrong tennis," said Williams, who began the night by over-hitting her ground strokes, and going all out for winners. "l had to change it up."

At the same time, the life slowly slipped out of Davenport's confidence. She was never the same after holding a 1-4 lead. Her footwork started to slip, her reactions became too slow. All the while, Williams was able to run off six games in a row before Davenport could regroup. It was too late, though. Williams had all the momentum, and soon had the championship trophy in her hands. Her 26th match victory in a row gave her a second Grand Slam title.

"I did it at Wimbledon, and I've done it here," Williams said. "I know I can do these things. It's the finals. I was able to keep my game under control. "

She had to be patient for this moment, though. Just after the rhythm and blues star Patti LaBelle nearly overwhelmed the speaker system with a soulful version of the national anthem, the rain began to fall around 5:25 p.m. About 90 minutes later, now in prime time, Williams and Davenport were ready to play.

The streamlined Williams arrived at the National Tennis Centre for the final was a far different version of the 17-year-old neophyte with the red-white-and-blue beads she wore back in 1997. Back then, she was a gangly, giggly teenager with an aggressive but unpolished game. Still, she stunned everyone on her way to becoming an unseeded finalist at the United States Open. Although she lost to Hingis, she transformed herself from curiosity to a force on the Tour.

"Oh boy, '97, I was a yearling," Williams said. "I have no regrets in '97 because I just - I didn't know what I was doing, basically."

Now Williams was a competitor. Since July, she has looked and played the part of a champion. Williams was seeded third in this tournament, but after taking out the top-seeded Hingis and then the second-seeded Davenport, it is hard not see her as the dominant player in the game. "I think I'm a different competitor than what I was in the past," Williams said. "For me, it didn't matter that I was down, 4-1. I was just competing.

"I've always felt like the best player. I think it's all an attitude, kind of the attitude you take out there toward your game."

Courtesy The Sportstar

The world at Ian Thorpe's extra large feet 

At 17, Ian Thorpe broke through to a new level in the pool at the Sydney Olympics. A golden future is guaranteed.

Before the first wave rippled across the surface of the Olympic pool in Sydney Ian Thorpe was hailed as maybe the greatest swimmer this sport had seen. After the swimmers warmed down, packed their bags and the surface of the pool became still again, there was no maybe. We had seen the greatest. Seventeen years of age and, already, the Tiger Woods of swimming. 

Thorpe won two gold medals but on a quite extraordinary evening, that seemed merely incidental. There were two world records, but they too were merely the details, little anchors that help to tie down his greatness. What difference does it make that Woods wins major by 12 shots, not 10? Neither did it matter that Thorpe won knocked half of a second of this record, a second off that. It was his mastery of his rivals and the aura of greatness that defined him on the evening when he came of age. 

His victories in the 400m freestyle and the 100m relay were chalk and cheese; the first achieved with the imperious supremacy that everybody expected, the second came after a titanic battle with the American Gary Hall Jnr. The 400m was his territory and he cruised it, the 100m relay was much too short for him and he toughed it out. The American team that he and his mates overcame had never been beaten in a 100m relay at the Olympics. 

From the beginning, there was the sense that this would be an evening in the company of true greatness. Thorpe came not so much to compete in two finals as to claim his destiny. He travelled by shuttle bus from the athletes' village to the International Aquatic Centre. Dara Torres, the US woman swimmer, travelled on the same bus. "I said to my coach, 'Oh my God, there he is.' I took one look at his hands and thought, 'I've got to see his feet'. Then he stood up and I said, 'Oh my God, he's not a boy, he's a man'," she said. Thorpe himself walked into the arena with a certainty that defied his youth. There were justifiable fears that the occasion might get to him. 

"I didn't know what to expect but could feel the excitement. 'Calm down,' I said to myself, 'you've trained well, you've trained hard, you are fortunate to be able to swim in the Olympic Games'," said Thorpe. 

Less fortunate were those who had to swim against him. 

Of the seven who lined up against him in the 400m freestyle final, only the Italian Masimiliano Rosolino competed.

The only bookmaker prepared to offer odds on the 17-year-old winning rated him a 20-1 on chance and as should happen with the overwhelming favourite, the race was over almost before it began. Thorpe blazed off the blocks and gained a significant lead by the time he reached the first turn at 50m. Rosolino stayed respectably close but the others were left a long way behind. 

Rosolino would produce the greatest swim of his life but without getting close enough to enter Thorpe's thinking. Having used this explosive first 50m to establish control, Thorpe slowly strengthened his position from there. To win without a world record would have been slightly disappointing and after 300m, he was slightly down on world-record pace. But the greatest performers have a precise sense of what they have to do and Thorpe moved up a gear. 

He powered through the final 100m and clipped seven-tenths of a second off his own world record. Having touched the wall, he says he then didn't know quite what to do. There was hardly any celebration and it didn't take a trained lip reader to pick up the "thank you" that he silently uttered. "I was thanking God to let me get to this stage". 

"I am very fortunate to have what I have, really it's a gift. I am very thankful to have that. I am also thankful to my parents and my coach, my family and all who supported me. And it was a thank you to Sydney and Australia for giving me the opportunity to do this in front of a home crowd in my home city. It had been a dream I had for such a long time." 

After winning his best event in a world record time, Thorpe might have deserved the evening off but wasn't getting it. He swam down in the adjacent practice pool and then peeled off his body suit to be properly attired for the medal ceremony, Australia's first gold. After the ceremony, he then had to get back into the body suit for the relay final. 

"That was where, we had the problems," he said afterwards. 

"I had four people helping to get the suit on but it still took a lot of time and when I finally got it on, I had to run out to start the relay race and stand there with the rest of the team in front of our home crowd. That was very rushed and very nerve-wracking for me and I had to calm everything down." 

Consider the thoughts that collided inside Thorpe's head in the minutes while his helpers tried to get that body suit on, the minutes ticking away, his team-mates beginning to worry that he wouldn't be dressed in time. Then Thorpe was there, on the pool deck with his mates, soaking up the noise. "This", he thought, "is what the Colosseum was like". They were the Christians, the Americans were the lions. 

There had been a prologue to this confrontation. Hall said his team would "smash the Australians like a guitar" and both teams understood that supremacy would come not in the individual events but the relays. Australia gambled on their fastest 100m swimmer, Michael Klim, getting them off to a big start. Klim was extraordinary. 

For the first 100m, he swam 48.18sec. 

That was three-hundredths of a second inside Alexander Popov's world record. When Klim climbed out of the pool, he had no idea that he had set a new record. Thorpe was almost sure he had but he had just two minutes to wait before he would plunge into the fray. 

"I am not a 100m swimmer so I wasn't 100% sure of the world record but I was pretty sure it was 48.21. So I said, 'Michael, you've just done 48.18sec'. He looked at me, not realising he had done it. 'Michael,' I said more emphatically, 'you have done 48.18sec.' 

" 'Are you sure?' he asked, and by now I am on the block, ready for my leg." 

Australia's third swimmer, Ashley Callus, started with a half-second advantage over Jason Lezak, lost it but then fought back marvellously to ensure Thorpe had a slight advantage over Hall. Their battle over the final 100m was probably the finest head-to-head in the history of Olympic swimming. 

Thorpe is the fastest swimmer in the world over 200m and 400m, but his best time in the 100m is only the 26th fastest in history. 

Hall has the seventh fastest in history, seven-tenths of a second faster than his rival. Times in swimming are normally the surest guide to performance and the odds favoured the natural sprinter, Hall. He is, after all, the second fastest man in history over 50m.

Within 20m, Hall had caught Thorpe. At the turn he was half a second in front. It was the greatest challenge the Australian has had to deal within his young career. Half a second down, Thorpe began to edge his way back, his frame cutting through the water and gradually closing on his rival. Twenty metres from the finish, they were level and then Thorpe just got in front. He touched the wall less than two tenths of the second before Hall.

"The last 50m was a blur" said Thorpe, "My team-mates didn't react because they weren't sure but I knew the second I touched. I would have looked a fool if I had been wrong but it was in my head. We'd won".

The vanquished US team had come to defend their title, they swam over a second inside the old world record and were still beaten. It was a sensational battle, one that we were privileged to witness. 

"I feel honoured to have been a part of that," said Hall afterwards. "I have been on the US team since 1994 and that was the best US relay team I have ever swam with and it was rather painful to lose. I doff my swim cap to the great Ian Thorpe." Dawn Fraser, the greatest woman swimmer to have represented Australia, described yesterday's relay as the greatest she had ever seen. 

Josh Davis, a triple gold medallist in Atlanta four years ago, will be one of the Americans gunning for Thorpe in the 200m freestyle. Over the last two years, Davis has kept a chart of Thorpe's record times and splits on the wall of his bedroom. By looking at them morning and night, Davis hoped to become so familiar with the targets that they would not seem so formidable.

But just as he brainwashed himself to believe Thorpe's records were surpassable, Davis had to tear down the old marks and replace them with the Australian's new figures. The former Australian Olympic champion at the 200m free style, Duncan Campbell, considered what his response to Thorpe would have been. "I'd have switched to the breaststroke," said Campbell.

Such is the climate of the day that it is natural Thorpe has been accused of finding excellence in a pharmaceutical box. The German swim coach Mannfred Thiesmann has been his most noted accuser. But there is nothing about Thorpe that even hints at cheating. 

When Thiesmann made his scandalous claims, Thorpe said he would like to be blood tested and would be prepared to have his blood frozen and examined in years to come, when testing is far more sophisticated than it currently is. Few of today's athletes have made that offer. His is a talent that we can celebrate. 

Last evening the bus shuttles running to and from the Olympic Stadium carried the flashing sign "World Class". Where normally the name of their destination would have been. "World Class" referred to the newest superstar of international sport and yet the compliment was strangely inadequate. 

It suggested Thorpe had reached the highest level when, in fact, he has surpassed it. 

Courtesy The Sunday Times of London

Cricket blockbuster

By Jatila Karawita
The biggest ever prize money of $ 1 mil lion in the history of world cricket will be on offer as the International Cricket Council knockout limited overs cricket tournament will get underway this Tuesday (October 3) in Nairobi, Kenya in what promises to be a blockbuster tournament for both players and spectators alike.

This ICC knockout tournament will be contested by the ten test playing nations and Kenya the host nation, which the games governing body believes is the next country after Test rookies Bangladesh to gain full status on the International arena.

The ICC hopes that a knockout tournament of this magnitude could boost Kenya's scope in international cricket in the same manner the inaugural championship did to Bangladesh in 1998.

According to the sports ruling body all proceeds from this tournament will help to fund its development programme which is envisaged to make the gentleman's game a truly global sport. 

Seedings for this eagerly looked forward to tournament have been based on performances during the 1999 World Cup which Australia won by beating Pakistan in the final at Lords.

World Champions Australia has been seeded in the first quarter final scheduled for October 7 and will confront the winners of the India-Kenya match which is the curtain-raiser contest.

South Africa who are the defending champions of this tournament having clinched the inaugural competition two years ago in Bangladesh have been seeded to play in the last quarter final and they will take on either England or Bangladesh who have been listed to play in a qualifying round match on October 5.

Sri Lanka is due to play against West Indies in the run-up to the quarter finals on October 4 and the winners of this game will qualify to take on Pakistan in one of the quarter finals on October.

The Sri Lankan team led by dashing left handed opener Sanath Jayasuriya left our shores last Tuesday night with a well drilled outfit and sounding confident of his teams chances of making an impression during the competition.

Jayasuriya speaking to Sunday Times on the eve of their departure said they have had a welcome rest for about one and-a-half -months and every member of the squad was looking forward to giving their hundred percent to the country.

'I think we had a good break from continous cricket during the past one month or so and it was very important to us to recharge our batteries for the new international cricket season which we will begin with this series in Kenya' said Jayasuriya who was pleased that selectors had given him a well balanced squad to do battle in Africa.

' The selectors I must say have done well to assemble a team which is brimming with confidence after our home season with Pakistan and South Africa.

With Pramodya and Eric coming back into the squad after a lay-off period due to injury it should further strengthen our attack and with Murali, Upul and Kumara Dharmasena in charge of the spin attack we are well served in all three departments of the game,' said the Sri Lankan captain who dismissed the notion that Sri Lanka will be hard pressed to hold their own in batting in the absence of experienced middle order bat Aravinda De Silva.

De Silva was left out of the Sri Lanka team following a dismal home series encountered against Pakistan and South Africa respectively and his slot in the national side has been taken over by the new kid on the block former Trinitian wicketkeeper bat Kumar Sangakkara who stunned the local cricketing circles with his inspirational performances in the home season two months ago.

Supporting Sangakkara in the batting stakes will be vice captain Marvan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold, Romesh Kaluwitharana and that dreaded left hand opening combination of skipper Jayasuriya and explosive Avishka Gunawardene.

India under the leadership of Saurav Ganguly will also mount a strong challenge to pocket this knockout title and with the recent resignation of former allrounder Kapil Dev the ball is firmly in the Indian court to live up to their former status as one time World Cup holders.

Rahul Dravid, master bat Sachin Tendulkar, Vinod Kambli, allrounder Robin Singh, and skipper Ganguly will be their big guns in batting while Venkat Prasad, Ajith Agarkar, Sunil Joshi, and spin sensation Anil Kumble will be in charge of the bowling attack.

However the absence of three of the superstars of Indian cricket in former captain Mohammed Azharrudin, Ajey Jadeja, and Nikil Chopra due to match-fixing allegations will greatly reduce the winning capacity of Ganguly's men.

Their arch rivals Pakistan led by Moin Khan will no doubt prove to be a tough nut to crack with the comeback of two of their leading performers in Wasim Akram and off spin wizard Sqlain Mushtaq.

The World Cup finalists of '99 will bank on batters as Imran Nazir, Saeed Anver, Ejaz Ahamed, Yousuf Youhana, Inzamamul Haq, power hitter Moin Khan, and all rounders Razzack and Mahmood for the fireworks in batting while Akram, Waqar, Saqlain, and Arshad Khan will be no easy meat to be countered when in a destructive frame of mind.

Meanwhile defending champions South Africa under the new leadership of speedster Shaun Pollock will try their utmost to retain the title which they clinched under former skipper Hansie Cronje in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Pollock's team will see the likes of Gary Kirsten, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Darrel Cullinan, Jonty Rhodes, Neil Mackenzie, powerful hitter Lance Klusener, wicket keeper bat Mark Baucher in charge of the batting while skipper Pollock will spearhead their attack equally supplemented by Roger Telemachus, Makaya, Ntini, Klusener, and the tantalizing spin of left arm orthodox Nicky Boje.

World Cup holders Australia who are the favourites for this year's title will be led by seasoned, tough as nails Steven Waugh who are the team to beat in the view of international critics. 

Australia's batting charge will be thrust on the shoulders of vice captain Adam Gilchrist, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Bevan, Steve Waugh, Shane Lee and Ian Harvey, while Glen McGrath, Bret Lee, Colin Miller and Mark Waugh with his part time off breaks will be more than a handful to their rivals.

The recent injury forced withdrawl of champion leg spinner Shane Warne will be a blow to the hot favourites but their resources are so strong that they will take it in their stride no matter what opposition they have to encounter in this series.

Of the remaining teams England who go into this series after beating West Indies in a Test series for the first time after 31 years will be one of the teams to watch out alongside New Zealand.

Nasser Hussain's men will be out to regain their former glory in this format of the game while Stephen Fleming's side go into the series after a successful short two Test series with Zimbabwe where they made a clean sweep of it.

The West Indies under Jimmy Adams, will also look to arrest their decline of recent times in both versions of the game but with the recent retirement of Curtly Ambrose, and the non participation of world record Test wicket-taker Courtney Walsh the men from the Carribean will have their work cut out to vie for honours.

Sporting stars among Hamers 

Russel has the distinction of having his name etched with greats like Wally Grout of Australia and 17 others at club, Sheffield and County level. He also has the distinction of scoring 24 runs in an over at the B.R.C. six-a-side tournament in 1969 which stood for more than ten years.
By M. Shamil Amit
Five first-class cricket- ers from three genera- tions is an exception, the five are Granville senior Mervyn, Russel, Granville Jnr. and Russel's son Peter, four were first-class wicketkeepers.

The Hamers are wonderful people to keep company with. 

Russel gave me a description about his father and two brothers' cricketing careers. His father Granville Snr. opening bowler and a right hand bat, played for the Government Services for many years and in the later stages took to umpiring and cherishes umpiring the match between the West Indies who had players like Conrad Hunte, Seymour Nurse, Garfield Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, and Wesley Hall playing against Ceylon. 

Mervyn his elder brother was a fine wicketkeeper and a left hand bat played for Wesley College, and three prominent clubs Nomads, Bloomfield and BRC and has a highest score of 232 against Kingswood Kandy which is also the highest between the two schools, he has also represented Maharajah's in Mercantile tournaments and toured with the Maharajah team to India, Malaysia and Singapore. Granville Jnr. his younger brother was also a Wesleyite and played for the senior team for five years. He was a hard-hitting right hand bat and wicketkeeper who also played for Nomads and Colts CC in the Sara Tournaments. 

At present Granville has his own private junior coaching school at Campbell Park which has about 40 children coming from prominent schools in Colombo. He has produced several top junior level cricketers. His two sons Damian and Trian are up and coming cricketers and ruggerites playing for the Wesley junior teams. They most probably might emulate their grandfather, father and uncles.

Russel Hamer the second of three boys also studied at Wesley College from the Lower Kindergarten as it was known those days upto the senior. He represented Wesley at cricket and soccer though he excelled at cricket more than soccer. He captained the senior soccer team and was selected for the national youth pool which included players like Judy Preena, Appiah (both players later played for Ceylon and Sri Lanka) and Yoga Crusz. In cricket Russel started at the lowest rung from Under 14 and 16 and represented the senior team for two years. He played under Everard Schoorman and Donald Thurairatnam and his contemporaries were M. Jebaraja. W. Deutrom, Peter Christie, Omar Jayasekera, M.T. Swangsa and his brother Mervyn. His best innings at school level has been the 117 he scored against Ananda which incidentally was his last match. His first coach was Lionel Jayasuriya at school and later D.H. de Silva and Mike Chanmugam who taught him the finer points of wicketkeeping and batting. He left school in 1965 and whilst playing for the school he played for Bloomfield CC in a Daily News trophy match. In his first outing against Colts CC he had the honour of scoring a century and with that he was promoted to the Sara Trophy team.

In 1964 and, '65 he represented the Combined Schools under Sunil Fernando (St. Benedict's) and Sarath Seneviratne S. Thomas' Mt. Lavinia, his contemporaries in those teams were A.G. Perera (with whom he later had a double century partnership playing for Bloomfield), B. Ried, S. Rajaratnam, Travis Fernando, David Heyn, H. Dunuwille and Anura Tennekoon to name a few.

After leaving school he was under the wings of Mr. R. Rajamahendran the proprietor of Rajendrams Ltd and Maharajah's Organisation who was responsible in promoting cricketers at that time. 

Russel says "I am eternally in debt to Mr. Artie Samarasekera an ardent supporter of Bloomfield and also Mr. R. Rajamahendran who was like a god to me." 

Russel captained the Maharajah's in 1970/71 has toured with the Maharajah's team to India, Malaysia, and Singapore. In Malaysia, Russel scored 100 runs from a total of 195 for 2 wkts.

Russel was going great guns in the club circuit too and his best innings has been his 174 he scored against B.R.C. with A.G.. Perera 104 not out.

These two put on a blistering partnership of 297 runs for the second wicket with all these performances and captaining the Bloomfield team, he could not find a place in the National side. 

"But all this changed when I left or may I say was forced to leave Bloomfield, where I played for eight years. I joined B.R.C. in 1971 and in the very first season I played for B.R.C., I was selected to play for the Ceylon team against the Pakistanis which did not materialise due to the war between India and Pakistan but in 1972 the Pakistanis came and it was captained by Intikab Alam which had players of the calibre of Zaheer Abbas, (who has the distinction of scoring two centuries in a match eight times which is a world record), Mustaq and Sadiq Mohamed, Wasim Bari, Majid Khan and Safraz Nawaz to name a few."

Ceylon was captained by Michael Tissera and had Anura Tennakoon, Daya Sahabandu, T.B. Kehelgamuwa and Duleep Mendis. It was Russel's and Duleep's first international match. In 1973 the M.C.C. team captained by R. Lewis toured Sri Lanka comprising players like Alan Knott, Mike Denness, Keith Fletcher, Derek Underwood, and D. Amiss. Sri Lanka was captained by Mike Tissera and had Bandula Warnapura, Duleep Mendis, Anura Tennakoon, D.S. de Silva, Neil Chanmugam and H.S.M. Peiris. After that Russel was in the back seat for some time. Russel has also represented Ceylon at the Gopalan Trophy series on numerous occasions. His contemporaries at different times have been Anura Tennakoon, David Heyn, Sunil Wettimuny, Daya Sahabandu, Lasantha Rodrigo, J. Robertson, Lalith Kaluperuma and T.B. Kehelgamuwa. In one series he scored 52 runs.

In 1975 whilst representing Mercantile Cricket Association in a match against Government Services for the Robert Sennayake trophy, he scored 132 and sqeezed back into the National side to tour India for three unofficial Test matches. The Indian team was captained by the batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar and had players like Dilip Vengaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Seyed Kirmani, Mohinder Amaranath, Madan Lal, Anshuman Gaekwad. Sri Lanka was captained by Anura Tennakoon and other prominent members were Sunil Wettimuny. D.S. de Silva, Ajith Silva, David Heyn, Daya Sahabandu and the late Anura Ranasinghe.

Though the tour was successful for Russel, he had to undergo unwarranted problems and was on the verge or returning back home at his own expense details of which he did not want to expose. 

Russel has the distinction of claiming seven victims behind the stumps on two occasions. The first was in 1978 when he was playing for his new club the S.S.C. against Moratuwa C.C. For his brilliant performance Russel was asked to lead the team to the pavilion. The second occasion was in 1980 against the Saracens. Thus Russel has the distinction of having his name etched with greats like Wally Grout of Australia and 17 others at club, Sheffield and County level. He also has the distinction of scoring 24 runs in an over at the B.R.C. six-a-side tournament in 1969 which stood for more than ten years.

The last international match that Russel played was in the year 1977 which was against an England team captained by Tony Greig which had players such as of Mike Brearley, Bob Woolmer, Bob Willis, Derek Underwood, Derek Randal, Alan Knott, and Dennis Amiss. Sri Lanka was captained by Anura Tennakoon with Roy Dias, Bandula Warnapura, Tony Opatha, Duleep Mendis. D.S. de Silva and Jayantha Seneviratna being some members of the team. In fact Russel had retired through disgust but he had been called back on the intervention of the then Sports Minister but the shabby treatment did not stop with the result.

Russel had to go to courts against some officials for injustice. S.S.C. was Russel's last club that he played whether it was Sara or Daily News trophy. He was a member from 1978 to 1995 during which period all cricketers at Maharajah's lost their jobs due to the '83 violence. He worked there for 18 years and at S.S.C whilst playing, his good friend Ranjith Doranagama, an old Trinitian had suggested of putting up a school for cricket. Russel had then decided to impart his knowledge and train young cricketers. It was the first local coaching school at the S.S.C.

After Ranjith left for a planting job to the outstation Russel was discontinued from coaching but is grateful to Ranil Abeynaike who understood his position and was kind enough to offer him two coaching days for a week and to act as an assistant curator at S.S.C. When Ranil left for Australia later Russel was appointed the curator at S.S.C. and that changed his life completely to another side of cricket, by which he is benefiting now. He also coached his alma mater during the period of Principals Mr. A.S. Wirasinha and Mr. Lou Adihetty free-of-charge and before his side of the story ends Russel reminds that he has played for seven clubs in the 'A' division namely Bloomfield C.C., B.R.C., Nomads, Liberty C.C., Saracens, Moratuwa C.C. and S.S.C. which maybe a record. In 1995 Russel was appointed as the senior cricket coach of the Kettarama school of cricket by the Minister of Sports and he is ever grateful to Commander H.U. Silva Director Sugathadasa Stadium and Kettarama Stadium and Mr. Sooriyaarachchi and lately Miss. Rohini Fernando secretary of the Sri Lanka Women's Cricket Association approved by the Sports Ministry had requested Russel to coach the Sri Lanka Women Cricketers which he has accepted and he conducts at the Kettarama Stadium.

Last of the five Hamers is Peter, Russel's son a left- handed bat and fine wicket- keeper like the father. Peter is at present playing in Australia. Russel speaking on behalf of his son said Peter had his education at St. Joseph's, Darely Road and started playing cricket from the age of seven. He got his first hundred against Zahira Maradana in a Under-13 match and from there he went from strength to strength. 

Peter was baptised into the senior team when he was 13 years from there onwards he was a regular member of the senior team for five years. He captained the senior team in the year 1994 and in between those years he turned up to be a fine batsman.

In 1993 at the Observer 'Bata' schools award he was given a special merit award for his 280 runs he scored against Wesley College (missing Jack Anderson's record by 12 runs) he also scored 1136 runs and had 48 dismissals that season.

Peter was a member of the Sri Lanka Under-20 team that toured Malaysia and Singapore and also toured India with the Sri Lanka schools team, he captained the Colombo District Cricket Association team.

After leaving school Peter represented the Old Antonians Wattala in the Under-23 tournament and scored two double centuries, later playing for S.S.C. in the Daily News trophy he opened batting with his father Russel a unique and rare feat that anyone can achieve.

Index Page
Front Page
Mirrror Magazine

Return to Sports Plus Contents


Front Page| News/Comment| Editorial/Opinion| Plus| Business| Sports| Sports Plus| Mirror Magazine

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to 

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.
Hosted By LAcNet