30th December 2001

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Sri Lankan bowler Nuwan Zoysa (L) celebrates the wicket of Zimbabwe batsman Craig Wishart (R) during the third day of the first cricket test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in Colombo. REUTERS

Year 2001 saw an upsurge in cricket

By Bernie Wijesekera
Sri Lanka, as a cricketing nation, has made an impact in the international circuit after the setbacks in the defence of the World Cup in 1999 staged in England.

Since that debacle in England the game has taken a new turn Sri Lanka winning quite a number of one day series at home and abroad. To achieve this the Sri Lanka cricket board has taken corrective steps.

The game could have made much headway had sanity prevailed. Had everyone put their heads together and put the country before self.

At times the game was played within the portals of Hulftsdorp, but not on the playing fields. 

In its wake, came interim committees; but this was not the panacea in a democratic set up.

There are flaws in the outdated Sports Law framed by the former Minister of Sports, Mr. K.B. Ratnayake. Even he agreed tht it needs amendments for the present day requirements.

Despite all the power struggle the game has developed, thanks to concerted efforts by our national cricketers who matched their skills against the best in the world. In the process filling the coffers of the cricket board.

Sri Lanka has been winning a number of one day series for year 2001 at home and abroad. They were going for the hat trick in Sharjah. 

But in the final against Pakistan was beaten fairly and squarley exposing, its lack of allrounders. 

'Murali' created a bowling record for one day cricket in Sharjah against India, but it was eclipsed by that lion hearted left arm seamer, Chaminda Vaas, with 8 for 19 against Zimbabwe in the recent one day series here. 

He created a world record which will take some time to erase against whatever opponent.

The best in a test match was the one achieved by Jim Laker against Australia 19 for 90, in 1956, at Manchester. 

Records are of academic interest, but the team must show up well against stiff opponents Sri Lanka did well to enjoy a whitewash in one dayers against Pakistan in Pakistan 3/0 and was heading for a similar feat in the final test at Karachi, but it was undoned when Pakistan won the match to maintain their untarnished tag at this venue. 

In this calendar year the Lankans did well town quite a number of one day series plus tests. Against India, 2-1, Bangladesh (Minnows) 1-0, a whitewash for the first time (test) against the West Indies - the worst team to tour here, in the history of Caribbean cricket. The Lankans are confident of a similar performance against Zimbabwe, in the ongoing series. 

Hopes were high to thrash England played here, but the 'lions' turned tables to winthe test seres 2-1. After the reversal in their home series Pakistan at full strength did well to beat Sri Lanka 2-0 away.

Facts are stubborn. There wasn't much pressure from opposition teams be it batting or bowling. 

One player, who defied the local bowlers including 'Murali' and Vaas was Brian Lara, who scored 688 runs. He was a beacon light, but lacked support to stall the humilating 3-0 defeat.

Apparently some officials were trying to get the credit for our winning efforts. The dissolved Int. committee had some officials with professinal skills no doubt. They had the ability to work to a plan without let or hindrence. 

But they were not sure of themselves, of how long they will hold office, without political support. They were appointed by the Minister of Sports to put it on the track. This is the bane of Sri Lanka's sports bodies. 

With the change of colours the Int. committee was dissolved by the new Minister of Sports, Johnston Fernando.

Hope the young Minister put it on course with correct people to run its affairs in a democratic manner. 

Also with men of integrity who toured Sri Lanka has the game at heart. 

Unlike year 2001, in the coming year Sri Lanka will face gruelling contests. Firstly, against England in a 3 test series starting in April. 

The first test at Lord's on a seaming pitch, but not on slow turners like here, which are tailor made for spinners. At present England cricket is catching up, good for the game.

They beat West Indies in a series after 1969 3-1. It has to be planned. No excuses .

During the latter part of 2002, Sri Lanka will tour Australia, before the World Cup in 2003 in S. Africa. It will be an ideal test for our cricketers to play on bouncy fast pitches. It will be a tough tour no doubt. The Lankans went on a similar tour the controversial 1996 test series Down Under before the World Cup. It really hardened the local players under Arjuna Ranatunga. In turn it helped us to beat Australia in the W.C. final in Lahore. 

There should be lot of planning with an eye for the future.

This is what other countries are doing Neighbours India and Pakistan did well to give exposure to talented youngsters They were prepared to lose, otherwise you don't know how to win. PCB President Tauqir Zia's objective came right in the end. Lost to Sri Lanka 2-1 at home, but beat 'am 2-0 away.

The former chairman of the selection panel, Sidat Wettimuny had a similar plan to give eposure to youngsters This he mentioned whilst in Pakistan. Ironically Sidat, relinquished office for reasons best known to him. 

How much of cricket do our national cricket panel watch. 

What sort of planning they have drawn up with an eye for the future. Its just like putting old wine to a new bottle. 

Wettimuny who was handling cricket in the Int. committee said there should be co-ordination between the administration, coaches and the selectors, to get the best formula for the future betterment of the game. With Sidat's resignation it has fallen on the wayside. Wicket - keeping is a specialised job. 

But here a half baked gloveman is standing behind the sticks. the best in the trade among the young brigade, Prasanna, Jayawardena is not given the nod, with a view to giving a place to an extra man in the side. Its happening here but not in other countries.

Adam Gilchrist after a long wait came in place of Ian Healy as the No. one stumper. 

The Aussie selectors pick the best for this key place, otherwise they could have given Ricky Ponting a part time 'keeper. Sri Lanka has produced some of the best glovemen in the past, who could be tagged as world class. 

Former Lankan 'keeper Mahes Rodrigo, who even replaced Ben Navaratne in a test against the Windies in 1950 agreed to this effect.

Emphasis should be paid to prepare hard, fast bouncy pitches that could last five days, This in turn will afford to provide exciting cricket and the game will last the duration. 

Even the spinners will learn to turn on such pitches. At present they are picking up scalps on slow turning pitches withoug much effort. 

The BCCSL must stress on this even requesting the clubs to prepare goodish wickets which will help the fast bowlers and the batsment to alike.

This is the trend worldwide, including India a paradise for spinners in the past.

Jayantha Seneviratne, the former Sri Lanka cricketer now turned coach endorsed this view. Preparing a pitch to suit individuals will not serve the game on the longer run. If this is the trend we are killing our promising fast bowlers.

This should apply to schools, too. It will help the fans to enjoy good batting and good bowling.

The selectors should have given the young hopefuls a chance of playing against some of the teams that toured here recently. One player, who played due to the intervention of the former Minister of Sports Lakshman Kiriella. Tilan Samaraweera he was overlooked by the selectors. He played thanks to Kirella and scored a debut test 100 against India.

The Selection panel comes under the Sports Ministry. Minister Fernando must pick the men, who have the teams, knowhow and the game at heart.

In Brief

Marlon- Black belt at 12 years
Twelve year old Marlon Mirando of St. Peter's College has achieved a rare feat for a boy of his age in the field of karate. He is trained by M.N.Thassim, Chief Instructer/Representative of the Nihon Karate-Do Kenshin Kai. 

Recently a grading test was conducted for all members of the Nihon Karate-Do Kenshin Kai, Sri Lanka branch and Marlon who represented St. Peter's College Karate Dojo fared well in the Kihon, Kumite and Kata and was promoted to the rank of Black Belt (Shodan). 

Recieving a Black Belt at this age is a great achievement.

Karate Do has become a very popular sport at St. Peter's College being coached by Sensei M.N.Thassim. 

Karate Do is a character building sport and the benefits are immense, it teaches discipline, self control, self defence, self respect and sharpens in reflexing the development of one's mind. It has become a popular competitive sport world wide due to speed, power and split second timing.

Presently in Sri Lanka there are more than 200 schools that have taken up karate as it is a most essential sport for present day living.

Marlon is a dedicated karate exponent who has participated in many national events and has the scope of becoming a top class karateka with the guidance of Sensei M.N.Thassim who has more than 30 years of experience in coaching and as per requirements of his Grandmaster in Japan. 

He is leaving no stone unturned and is making every effort to teach members at school level. He is a founder member of the Sri Lanka-Do Federation (National Body), Sri Lanka Schools Karate Association and also the newly formed Shotokan Karate -Do Federation, Sri Lanka.-MSA

Joint Malay Rally
By M.Shamil Amit
Fifteen Malay Associations around the island are getting together with the objective of fostering harmony amongst the Malays and to promote goodwill and cooperation with the other communities towards the achievment of national ideals. 

With this in mind they have drawn up a plan to stage a rally over a period of two days. The rally is scheduled to beld on January 26 and January 27 at the 'Padang' which is the grounds of the Colombo Malay Cricket Club in Kew Road, Slave Island.

The rally which is called "Pertemoon Melayu 2002" will take the form of a typical "Kampong Melayu" a Malay village, which they anticipate thousands of Malays from all over the island to participate. The activities planned are traditional sports events both outdoors and indoors, inter-association cultural competitions, Quaranic recital contests and do-you-know Malay contests.

Taekwondo photo exhibits
The Sri Lanka Taekwon-Do Association will hold a photographic exhibition on January 4 and 5, 2002 at the Auditorium of the Public Library. The exhibition is being held to commemorate the completion of 25 years of Taekwon-Do-martial arts in Sri Lanka, which was introduced by Master Dr.S. Cyril Antony. The photographs to be exhibited will depicit the various tournaments, demonstrations, training and seminars both in the local and abroad.

The opening ceremony on January 4 will be at 10.30 a.m. after which it will be opened to the public till 6.00. in the evening. On January 5 it will open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.

Royal draw with St. Benedict's

Royal were struggling at 25 for 4 in their second innings but a gritty 52 n.o by skipper G. Ratnayake (with six fours) helped them to total 119 for 6 at close to draw their Inter-School cricket match against St. Benedict's at Reid Avenue yesterday. 

This match was to be played at Kotahena, but the venue was shifted to Reid Avenue due to the water-logged condition of the ground at Kotahena.

Batting first Royal made 219. The Bens after being 32 for one overnight,were bowled out for 152. Jeremy Saverimuthupulle batting at No 5, stroked a bright 59 with six fours, to keep the batting together. 

Spinner G. Ratnayake bowled best to capture 4 for 45.

Royal in their second essay were struggling at 25 for 4, but Ratnayake (52 n.o) aided by Rochana Wijeratne (36), sewed up the innings. Left-arm spinner J. Priyantha (4 for 44) proved most troublesome.

Royal - 219 and 119 for 6 at close (G. Ratnayake 52 n.o, Rochana Wijeratne 36; J. Priyantha 4 for 44, Lasantha Perera 2 for 39)

St. Benedict's - overnight 1 for 32 contd: 152 (L. Hettiarachchi 15, Amila Sudesh 19, J. Saverimuthupulle 59, L.Perera 17 n.o; G. Ratnayake 4 for 45, G. Vidanapathirana 3 for 45, P. Chamikara 3 for25) 

- B.W

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