3rd February 2002

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David Obuya of Kenya gets a helping hand from a Sri Lankan helper. Pic by Ranjith Perera

Cricket with Ranil Abeynaike

A look into the future

Although cricket still clings firmly to tradition the game has gone through amazing transformations in the past 25 years. Ever since Kerry Packer took the game and its authorities by the scruff of the neck and gave a good shaking, changes have come about fast and frequent.

The game which was mainly centered around Britain and its former colonies is now being globalized. Still countries which experienced British influence seemed to prosper more readily than others. The sub continent is fast becoming the hub of the game.

That is bound to be a very influencing factor in the next decade. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and to a much lesser extent Bangladesh and the UAE will be major attractions because of the vast population of followers. The dominance of England and Australia will be reduced. India in particular, as we have witnessed in recent times, are going to be a dominant force. Their one handicap will be whether their players can be dominant on the playing field.

Decisions in this sport are umpteen. The Rules and Regulations are not. In international games today there is a total team of four umpires and a match referee who are in charge of controlling the game. Not just that they are assisted by Television pictures, replay and more slow motion replays.

There is bound to be more progress on that front. TV replays will play an even bigger role. Snicks that are caught, LBW decisions - once technology improves further could well be the call of the Third Umpire who sits beyond the fence. Umpires themselves are bound to change in approach, shape and fitness. David Shepherd will most likely be the last partly 'jolly good fellow' type of umpire.

Peter Willey (England) and Asoka de Silva are examples of the future. Those who have played at the highest level. Mainly they are physically fit. That will also have a bearing and too many who take this profession may not survive beyond the age of 55 or so.

Sponsors are bound to get bigger and bigger and will keep demanding for their pound of flesh more and more. As it is the SSC has strict regulations on players advertising on clothing and equipment. Also advertising boards and other forms of branding. It is possible to see more logos on field and particularly in one days, more advertising displays.

The one day game is gaining in popularity by the day. Test cricket still is much promoted by the day. Test cricket is much promoted by the governing body, particularly with the new world Test championship in progress. Should there be a change the imaginable possibility is a restriction in the number of overs of the first innings.

Provided there are more and more results then that is unlikely. But who wants to witness a game for five days and not have a result?

Countries like Kenya and Namibia are knocking at the door. Cricket being the expensive game requires a lot of funding. These countries need that assistance. As with Bangladesh,it is evident they are accepted to the international fold too early. One day their status is going to be acceptable. It is an easier form of the game to adopt to initially. That is likely to happen. More countries playing one day internationals and developing gradually. The home team advantage continues to get wider. To beat Australia, India or Sri Lanka on home soil is now a tough task. Even Zimbabwe are competitive at home as India realized last year. How can some advantage be given to the visiting team? My reckoning is, do away with the toss. The home team already has heaps of advantages in their favour. So why not give the choice of first lease to the visitors.

Sounds very revolutionary - that is what the game will become sooner or later.

Inter-International Schools Athletics

The second Inter-International Schools Athletic meet will take place on February 8, 9 and 10 at the Shalika Grounds,Narehenpita. Fifteen schools are competing for the coveted Inter-International Schools Athletic Trophy.

The Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Johnston Fernando and Mrs. Sonali Fernando will be the chief guests.

The following schools will participate in this three day event:

Alethea International, Asian International, Belvoir College, College of World Education, Colombo International School, Gateway International School, Gateway (Kandy), Ikra International, Leighton Park, Lyceum, Royal Institute, St. Nicholas, Stafford, The British School and Wycherly. 

Deadlier than the male

By Ruhanie Perera 
Boxing for nearly 10 years

Dealing with an infuriating husband wouldn't be a problem for my three interviewees, as they can always close any matter by throwing a punch; something they, as motivated boxers, do on a daily basis. But we're not married, they chorus, in reply to my queries, while grinning from ear to ear, Maybe we've scared all potential husbands away! 

Geethani Samaraweera, Nilmini Kumari and Nilmini Gamlath in the administration, security and cutting departments respectively at Slimline (Pvt) Limited make up the Slimline women's boxing team. Coached by Harsha Kumara, a fellow boxer at Slimline, boxing was an avenue they had never considered in their life until a tournament for women was organised and Slimline decided to send in a team. Now fully-fledged boxers, when they are not going about their work, they are usually found either in the gym or in the ring. 

The tournament organised was one that saw the Slimline team prepare for within a week. A week I thought I heard wrong no, a week it was. They then go on to inform me that they feel a beginner needs about a year of training; it takes about six months alone to learn the rules of the game. But they were very much into boxing and therefore were acquainted with at least the basics of the sport. In addition to that, working up to a certain standard within such a short period of time came as a challenge to them. One that they were determined to take. 

Not having done too badly in the tournament, the girls, having discovered in them new potential, decided to stick with boxing. The atmosphere is very boxing friendly at Slimline, thus it wasn't strange for them to take it up as a sport. We know the guys on the boxing squad well and we always go to support them at tournaments it has become our sport says Geethani adding that the fact that it was an uncommon choice in sport for women, contrary to expectation, became an incentive for them to take it up. 

Woman Boxer isn't exactly the image of the typical Sri Lankan woman (or any woman, for that matter). However, unbelievably 90 percent of the response to their choice of sport was favourable, their strongest support coming from their homes. 

Even the girls who work at Slimline have supported their quest for girl power. At this point they stress that the support of the establishment is a great boon, which played a pivotal role in their becoming boxers. This would never have been an option for us if we hadn't been working here. We are looked after, as the people in charge make our well being their concern. 

It's a lot of hard work though. 6.00 a.m. sees the start of activity; their training where they first run and then work out in the gym. Come evening and its into the ring they go where they work for about two hours training to throw punches the right way. They also watch videos as well, to get a better perspective of the sport. Their favourite boxers are their own brother-squad at Slimline. 

This life may seem tiring, but they thrive on it. We may feel a bit exhausted as soon as we finish training but then our day is very static as it's the mind we put to work. It has, however, had an impact on their work as they find themselves more switched on. In contrast to most early morning blues, morning finds the Slimline boxing team bright, active, chirpy and ready for any challenge thrown in their way. 

Their hopes and dreams include a common wish to achieve the very best both in their work and in their sports career. They want to be fair players, those who always play the right way and at the end of the day bring recognition to their country. And maybe hmm well get married.

Their philosophy, where sport is concerned is, to be controlled in their emotions for boxing is not a game of taking revenge. It is a game of being able to have someone punch you around, just as much as it is punching someone. Though you may not feel so friendly towards them a few days after the fight when the punches take its toll,interjects Nilmini Gamlath. In addition to that one must possess a mind free of other problems. For boxing is very much a mind game as it is a test of physical fitness. You have to be both strong in throwing punches and fast when moving around comes the emphasised statement. 

The girls being slender differ from that stereotypical image of a boxer with bulging muscles and a mean look. However their approach is no different, for understanding the challenges of the sport they go in with the will to excel and, just like another boxer we all know, once in the ring they float like butterflies and sting like bees. 

Boxing for nearly 10 years

The Slimline male boxing squad, mainly lightweight boxers, captained by Nilantha Bandara Walisundara comprises T.B. Harsha Kumara, R.M. Upali Bandara, Anuruddha Ratnayake, Manju Dinesh Wanniarachchi, Bandula Wickremasinghe, Nilanga Herath, Chammika Wickremasinghe, Anura Pradeep Kumara and E.L. Nanayakkara, of which three are at novice level. Their track record for the past year has been one of perfection with the squad winning the three most prestigious boxing tournaments: The Leighton Cup, The Clifford Cup (both tournaments saw Walisundara bag the best boxer trophy) and most recently the National Championships.

The team have been boxers since their school days as boxing took a primary place among extra curricular activities and of course it fitted with the whole macho schoolboy image. So they've all been boxing for nearly ten, or more years. Although this is an individual game, we approach it in the team spirit and that has been to our advantage. We have a great rapport with our coach Lal Anuruddha Amunugama and he has taken an active role in ensuring our victory in all tournaments, says Nilantha Bandara Walisundara. That together with the support they get from the Slimline team and colleagues is their strength. Their dreams are big dreams of which the most attainable at the moment are making it to and doing well at the Asia Games and Commonwealth Games and from there on it is an open road. 

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