21st January 2001

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What a thrilling finish !

Who expected to stay up until 3.45 a.m. to watch the finish of the sixth and final One Dayer between Sri Lanka and South Africa? There were a few die hard Sri Lankans who had faith, although the hosts had won the preceding five games convincingly.

With Sri Lankan tottering on 21 for 3 the rains came down and more than an hour's play was lost. It often happens that breaks of this nature changes the course of a game. There is no particular reason but history informs us that many games have had their balance tilted, and when Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardena returned after the game was reduced to 42 overs per side, they played as if anointed by some divine spirit.

There was a sense of urgency. They picked up every single. Put pressure on the fielders by running hard and looking for more. A few chinks appeared in the South African fielding. There were some overthrows, slight misfields, inaccurate throws all of which helped the advancing Atapattu and Jayawardena.

This partnership initiated the resurgence. Atapattu was solid. He smelt the deliveries outside off stump and left them alone.

Playing at them had caused his downfall on earlier occasions. He chanced his arm when slip moved to gully and much to the frustration of the bowlers picked two boundaries. Although Jayawardena departed in his 20s even before the century was posted, there was hope that the opposition could be set a reasonable target.

Russel Arnold took a cue from his senior partner and vice captain and played the percentages game perfectly. Once Atapattu left, holding out to the lone patrolman on the deep extra cover boundary, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of the two young left handers - Arnold and Sangakkara. Sangakkara has looked good on most occasions on this tour. It will be such a valuable learning experience for him. Should he be able to get a big score in the third test match, then that will do him a world of good.

Yet again Arnold displayed that remarkable ability to hit the ball into gaps in the field with consistency. When on a roll he does that so very efficiently. He left the field undefeated on 66 and Sri Lanka, having reached a defendable total.

The South African chase was hot and cold. It seemed if the batsmen felt they will not be troubled by Jayasuriya's bowlers. Vaas and Zoysa handled the new ball admirably. Although Kallis spanked Vaas for three elegant boundaries, the reply came in the very next delivery, when the inform allrounder had his stumps spreadeagled. Then disaster for Sri Lanka as Vaas fell to the ground damaging a groin muscle.

Nuwan Zoysa bowled as well as he could. It was the best spell of the tour. Having been rested from the earlier game, Zoysa's body seemed to be responding to what the brain wanted it to do. He looked in far better shape and every South African batter who faced him struggled against some sharp rising deliveries. The much improved Nicky Boje and Niel McKenzie gradually swung the game towards another home team victory. Jayasuriya conducted many midfield meetings with his senior team members and brought about countless bowling changes. There were at least ten one over spells! Boje chased at one outside off stump off the skipper and edged to Kaluwitharana. It was still only a minor consolation, but it was the beginning of a collapse.

With just under ten overs remaining de Silva brought on for one of those very short spells dismissed Boucher and Kemp playing half-hearted push shots. When Jayasuriya bowled mainstay Mckenzie in the next over the Sri Lankans smelt victory.

Skipper Shaun Pollock bowled magnificently in all six games. Now for the first time in the series he was asked to deliver with the bat with only number eleven Allan Donald for company. He belted two huge sixers, but eleven to get off the last two deliveries was a big ask. He clobbered another six but Jayasuriya stayed calm and fired a yorker length delivery for the last and Sri Lanka won by five runs.

It was worthwhile staying up late to watch this unexpected thriller! It should give Sanath Jayasuriya and his team some confidence as they go out to do battle in the third and final test match.

Did the Selectors pick the right squad to South Africa.?

By Marlon Fernandopulle

To say that Sri Lanka were comprehensively routed by South Africa may be a gross understatement. Nevertheless it's not easy to describe the defeats in words. Five straight one day defeats, and a trouncing in the Test is something the Sri Lankans would have never expected.

The last tour of South Africa in 1998 under Arjuna Ranatunge also yielded heavy defeats in the two Tests and the triangular one day tournament. However Sri Lanka had the consolation of beating South Africa and Pakistan once in theTriangular limited over tournament.

Battered, bruised and beaten Sanath Jayasuriya's team may well be dejected,demoralised and a dispirited set of cricketers today.The situation could have been avoided somewhat if only the National Selectors were more focused on their task and picked a squad after analysing the strengths and weaknesses of their own players as well as the opposition, and had an adequate knowledge of the conditions in South Africa.

Many are of the view that a selectors job is a daunting one.It may be the case in certain countries but not in Sri Lanka where you have only around 10-12 clubs (despite having 18 division one clubs) and 30- 35 potential players only to choose a squad of sixteen players.

Short of fast bowlers

It was quite evident that Sri Lanka were minus at least two more genuine fast bowlers.Sri Lanka went in with four fast bowlers and a fast bowling allrounder. You cannot substitute the need of a genuine fast bowler with a fast bowling allrounder for tours of South Africa and Australia where the wickets seam and bounce, unless you have allrounders in the calibre of Lance Klusner and Jacques Kallis. As a result Sri Lanka's fast bowling allrounder Kaushalya Weeraratne was in and out of the One Dayers but failed miserably.

Dilhara –too early for ODI

The inclusion of Dilhara Fernando by the tour selectors to play in the one dayers was surprising.No doubt Dilhara is a fine, promising, young fast bowler.But the 19-year- old is inexperienced to bowl in the one dayers where you have to be spot on with every delivery,and where there is little or no margin for error. As expected, although Dilhara bowled well in the Test, he was found to be erratic and expensive in the one dayers.

He was so tensed and excited in front of the capacity crowds that he even had problems with his run-up to the wicket which resulted in frequent no balls,wides and dead balls.All due to the lack of experience.

It's not that he is not a one day bowler. He can be developed into a very useful wicket taking one day bowler, but he needs to gain experience first (playing a couple of seasons in the local one day tournament and more Tests for his country) before he is included in the one day team.The only logical reason why Fernando was included may have been due to Pramodya Wickremasinghe failing to deliver(which is very often the case) and the tour selectors not having another fast bowler to fall back on. It's also puzzling to note how Wickremasinghe who has become very predictable in his bowling still continues to be on tour and in the team.

Why Muthumudalige Pushpakumara

Sri Lankans may have even forgotten that one Muthimudalige Pushpakumara is also in the 16 man squad to South Africa. How the selectors can justify his inclusion in the squad will be very interesting ?A schoolboy, who is still to play a domestic club season, Pushpakumara played only a single side game and that was no surprise. In fact according to a senior player who was involved in the selection, Pushpakumara was included since there are no other allrounders.

A statement which is very hard to believe. Sri Lanka in the past have introduced cricketers like Arjuna Ranatunge, Aravinda De Silva, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinghe straight from school to the big league. Can Pushpakumara be compared to any one of them?

Aravinda's exclusion and inclusion

The exclusion of Aravinda from the tour party was a surprise.You cannot expect the inexperienced Arnold,Sangakkara, and Dilshan to succeed, be consistent and bring stability to the middle order against a top class bowling attack which is playing on their home soil.On the contrary these youngsters may have succeeded playing around the experienced De Silva.

Aravinda's late inclusion was not surprising.Soon after the first Test their was talk that De Silva rejected an offer from the selectors to take wing to South Africa as there were no side games before the Boxing day Test. However when the call came from the Tour Selectors in South Africa(which surprised the Selectors here) after the Boxing day Test, De Silva reluctantly agreed to go to South Africa.

It must be noted that since De Silva is on a contract with the Cricket Board(and thereby entitles himself to a handsome salary),he cannot reject an offer from the Cricket Board.Certainly the Cricket Board does not pay cricketers for nothing.

They are expected to keep fit,practice and be prepared to respond to a national call.

However as admitted by Aravinda his fitness and practice was not upto the mark.How could a cricketer be fit when he does not even attend regular practices for his club?This was clearly seen when he was spotted diving either over the ball or after the ball passed him during the one dayer in South Africa.

Aravinda is in a class of his own.He is a great performer who can play better than any other Sri Lankan on fast,seaming and bouncing tracks.Why the Selectors did not include him to South Africa initially is a mystery.

How and why the tour selectors(who also have a say in the initial selection) suddenly needed him is another mystery.

Jayasuriya's statements

Sri Lanka Skipper Sanath Jayasuriya went on record when he said that he was confident and comfortable while batting in the 5th one dayer since he was aware that the experienced Aravinda De Silva is in the team.If so why did not Sanath(who is also part of the Selection committee) insist that De Silva be included in the team to South Africa?

Why is the Minister unhappy

Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella publicly stated on Television that he was not happy with the squad that went to South Africa. How strange, when the Minister himself ratified the squad that was picked by the National Selectors.If the Sports Minister was not happy he should not have ratified the squad.

Critics may argue that it is easy to look at what went wrong in hindsight.True,but National Selectors who have played the game at the highest level should forsee such situations and act accordingly to avoid them? If they cannot forsee such situations they should not be National Selectors. Surely if they are focused on their job they should be able to forsee such situations.A good example is the manner in which the Interim Selection Committee went about their task.

They were bold and courageous in their decisions and more importantly they had a reason behind every selection which they justified even publicly..

The only silver lining on the South African tour is that the Selectors have learnt from their mistakes and picked a better squad for the New Zealand tour.

The South African Tour: Some relevant issues

By Aubrey Kuruppu

Admittedly, you cannot get it right every time. But the selection in their collective wisdom seem to have erred in not providing that extra bit of experience, toughness and resilience in the middle order. It is not a question of hindsight, or of being wise after the event.

With the retirements of Ranatunga and Mahanama and the non- selection of de Silva and Tillekeratne, Sri Lanka lost out immensely in terms of experience. Once the top three or four have been dismissed, the door is thrown wide open. It could be argued that we didn't exactly cover ourselves with glory on the last tour of the Republic, despite the presence of the four players, mentioned above.

There's more grist to the mill. De Silva has made a mere 27 runs in his two innings to date though he has chipped in with the ball. Yet his twenty in the fifth ODI had class and character written all over. He may give something away on the field but he remains Sri Lanka's one batsman who can rank alongside the Laras and the Tendulkars of this world. The opposition fear and respect him, and that isn't something that can be said of some of the other batters in the side.

It has been said that the team was chosen with the 2003 World Cup in mind. Are we missing the wood for the trees? Test matches remain the true yardstick of a player's performance. A batsman of proven ability and experience in test cricket de Silva obviously, or even a Tillekeratne should, and could, have been included in the tour party. One wonders what Pushpakumara is doing in South Africa. To all intents and purposes, he seems surplus to Sri Lanka's needs.

The debate over Jayasuriya's position in the order continues unabated. To say that he has had a lean time in South Africa is to put it mildly. Jayasuriya is to be admired for his positive thinking in refusing to bat down the order, come hell or high water. But how long more can he continue in this vein? A captain going through a crisis is not in the best position to influence the fortunes of his team.

The silver lining is that come February/March, the Englishmen will be here. Gough, Caddick and company may not be such a handful on our slow, low tracks. To be sure they will be a far cry from bouncy Newlands. Muralitharan will surely continue to tease and tourment batsmen who will be reliving those 1998 Oval nightmares. (En passant it should be noted that Atherton, Thorpe, Hussain and Trescothick did not play in Muralitharan's test).

Another contentious issue is the itinerary for the South African tour. There is certainly a lot of flitting between the two forms of the game. Two ODIs to start with, and then two tests. Back to four more ODIs and the last test. Quite clearly a lot of adjustment is called for on the part of the batsmen in particular. The point at issue is whether the scheduling of the matches is a unilateral decision of the host country or whether the concurrence of the visiting team's Board is sought. I would incline to the latter view. Further, quite subtly the South Africans denied the Sri Lankans match practice of high quality at the start of the tour. Food for thought indeed.

How the Duckworth/Lewis method worked at the Wanderers ground

By Marlon Fernandopulle

If you hear it for the first time it may sound like a tongue-twister.For cricket fans, players and umpires it has become a common phrase, but still it spells out nothing but confusion. Yes, the Duckworth/Lewis method which was accepted by the ICC to reset targets in rain affected matches is sometimes mind boggling.But, not so, if you carefully study the method that is used to calculate and reset the targets.

The D/L method works using the notion that teams have two resources with which to make as many runs as they can-these are the number of overs they have still to receive and the number of wickets they have in hand.From any stage in their innings,their further run scoring capability depends on both these two resources in combination.A single table gives the percentage of these combined resources that remain for any number of overs left and wickets lost.This table gives the Resource Percentage that is remaining at any given stage of the match.For instance at the beginning of an innings a team has 50 overs and 10 wickets.This gives the team a 100% Resource Percentage. When a match is shortened after it has begun,the resource of one or both teams are depleted and the two teams have different amounts of resource for their innings.The D/L method ensures that both teams enjoy a similar resource percentage in a match,thus a revised target is set accordingly.

During the last one dayer between Sri Lanka and South Africa,the home side was set a revised target(209) that was five runs less than what Sri Lanka scored(214),despite both the teams batting for the exact number of overs.Let's see how it worked.

When rain halted play Sri Lanka were 21 for 3 at the end of 9 overs Sri Lanka were left with 7 wickets and 41 overs which corresponds to a Resource Percentage of 70.5%

When play began the overs were reduced to 42 which gave Sri Lanka only a further 33 overs and 7 wickets which corresponds to a Resource Percentage of 64.8%

Thus Sri Lanka lost a Resource Percentage of 5.7% (70.5% - 64.8% =5.7%)In other words Sri Lanka who had a 100% Resource Percentage( 10 wickets and 50 overs) at the start of their innings had to utilize only 94.3% (100% -5.7% =94.3%)

South Africa began their innings having 10 wickets and 42 overs.This gives them a Resource percentage of 92.5%, which is less than what Sri Lanka enjoyed(94.3%).

Thus South Africa's srevised target should be reduced accordingly.Thus 214 x 92.5/94.8 =208.8 . which will be rounded –up to 209. If Sri Lanka had not lost any wickets when rain halted play(21 for no loss) South Africa's revised target in 42 overs would have been 220 according to the D/L method.

Sri Lanka's hopefulls for titles

Sri Lanka will host the second of the three major tournaments - the ITF South Asian under 14 championships in conjunction with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) from January 27 to February 10.

This championships which is supported by the Grand Slam Development Fund will be played at the National Tennis Centre Courts at Greenpath. The Championships will also incorporate a three-day training camp followed by two five-day tournaments, all at the same venue.

image image image image image

The training camp will be held from Sunday, January 28 to Tuesday January 30th while the first tournament will be held on Wednesday, January 31 to Sunday, February 4 and the second tournament from Monday, February 5th to Friday, February 9th.

The participants will be from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for both boys and girls singles and doubles. All the players will be ranked from 1 to 32 and points will be awarded from the first to 18th only in a manner of 300, 200, 150, 120, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 45, 40, 35, 30, 24, 20, 15, 10 and 5 respectively. Doubles pairings must be from the same nation, but with the agreement of the Tournament Committee Nations with odd numbers of players may form doubles pairings with the doubles being played on a knock-out basis. Sri Lanka boys team will be represented by (from left) Udith Wickremasinghe, Franklyn Emmanuel, N.S. Nishendran, Oshada Wijemanne, Amrit R and S. Sashivan. Pictures by Ranjith Perera.

Rohana proves his mettle at Indian golf competition

By Bernie Wijesekera

Anura Rohana, the one time caddie, now an associate member of the RCGC, did proud for Sri Lanka golf when he proved his mettle at the all India Ameteur Championship played in Chembur, Mumbai (Bombay Presidency Golf Club).

With the cream of the amateur golfers drawn from India, South Africa, Australia, U.K, and Malaysia. Rohana matched his skills despite facing stiff opposition in the main event Match Play (two rounds) where 139 golfers teed off.

Sri Lanka was were represented by four players, Tissa Chandradasa, Anura Rohana, Lalith Kumara and Jehan de Saram. while S. Africa, Australia, U.K. and Malaysia had two each. The rest were Indians according to Manager Shiran de Soysa, who accompanied the team.

It was an amazing performance by Rohan and Lalith Kumara, despite limited facilities when they had to confront some of the best amateur golfers taking to the greens. Their counterparts had expert coaches, fully sponsored and constantly playing in the international amateur circuit. Rohana and Kumara entered the pre-quarter finals and raised many an eyebrow from foreign officials, who were present at this championship. They commended their performances, according De Soysa, who was interviewed by The Sunday Times.

The poor golfers (one time caddies had to depend solely on the contributions afforded to them by the members of the RCGC, no sponsors for their participation.

Fought back

In the pre-quarter finals, Rohana beat Dean Alaban (Australia) while Lalith Kumara, who was four down after eight holes fought back to win on the 19th hole after birding the 18th and 19th to beat Scott Strange of Australia. It was a courageous effort indeed, added De Soysa. In the quarters Kumara lost to heap Craig Heap (UK), a prospective Walker Cup team member 4/3.

Rohana, playing steady golf was in control and got the better of Sanjeev Mehra (India) to enter the last four. In the semi finals Richard Sterne (S. Africa), beat Micheal Moey (UK) also a Walker Cup player to enter the finals. Rohana too roared and had the lion flag fluttering when he beat U.K.'s Craig heap 3/2 to enter the final.

In the finals Anura playing with composure played with authority to be all square after 18 holes - never being more than one down. After 18 holes Rohana went one up at the 22nd, but missed a birdie putt on the 23rd and, eased to put pressure on his opponent. Richard Sterne of S.A. a "man of steel" grabbed this opportunity and birdied the 24th, and followed up with six birdies, in the next eight holes to win the match 5 and 4.

It was Richard's experience and regularly participating in the international circuit that proved the winning factor. But poor Rohana had to depend on the crumbs that fell his way (thanks to members and wellwishers). Otherwise the Lankan golfers have the skills to match the best amateurs. Former Sri Lanka's maestro K.H. Nandasena Perera, was one of the best in Asia and excelled in the S.E. Asian region.


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