17th February 2002

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Franklin Emmanuel, Nishendran excel 

A beaming and confident Lalith Withana, President, SLTA announced that Sri Lanka has now reached international standard in the boys Under-14 age category. 

The achievement by these two youngsters Franklin Emmanuel and N. S. Nishendran at the recently concluded South Asian Tennis Championships speaks volumes for the Junior development that has taken place in Sri Lanka within the last two years, said Withana. 

The best Under-14 players from around 15 countries in South and Central Asia participated and Franklin and Nishendran took first place in the doubles while in the singles Franklin was placed third and Nishendran fifth. The five best Central Asian players are invited for this Championships. 

Withana's two year term as President of the SLTA expires next month. 

I am confident that my successor will continue the Junior development programme that was initiated by me and we will be able to achieve greater heights, he said.

At the first ITF South Asian tournament Sri Lanka's Franklin Emmanuel was seeded No. I while N.S. Nishendran was seeded as No 2. Emmanuel reached the semi-finals beating Ivan Lidzar (Kazakastan) 6/1, 6/0, Nyi Nyi Tun (Myanmar) 6/3, 6/0, Sanam Singh (India) 7/5, 6/2. Emmanuel lost in the semi-finals to Umarov Jamol (Uzbeckistan) 6/3, 6/0. In the decider for the 3rd/4th place Emmanuel lost to Jeevan Nedunchezian (India) 7/5, 2/6, 6/2 and was therefore placed 4th in the singles event. N. S. Nishendran reached the quarter finals when he beat G. Maharjan (Nepal) 6/0, 6/0 Yousuf Aman (Bangladesh) 6/0, 6/3. 

Nishendran lost to Jeevan Nedunchezian (India) 7/5, 6/1 who was ultimately placed 3rd. In the 5th to 8th play off Nishendran beat Acmal Sulaimanov (Tajikistan) 7/5, 6/2 but lost to Alexander Lidzar (Kazakastan) 6/1,6/4 to be placed 6th in the singles event. 

Traditions must take their turn 

It has been a tradition in the past if a player plays in a Big Match, especially in the Royal-Thomian he is awarded with cricket colours. This has been a tradition and it's being continued in the Battle of the Blues; todate. 

The criterion should be his consistency - be it batting or bowling. 

Otherwise the value of the colours on offer is lost for mere participation in the Big Match. In the process it's not going to do any justice to the game or to a player who has been a consistent performer throughout the season. 

Suppose the lad who has given a major share for the team's cause, falls sick on the eve of a big 'un his replacement gets colours. It isn't cricket. 

The present Royal team, which is not enjoying a healthy season has coloursmen aplenty, who have taken part in last year's 'blues'. The Principal of Royal and the President of the Schools C.A., Mr. Lakshman Gomes is a keen follower of the game. 

We had this to say, "I agree with you over the awarding of colours for the mere participating in the Big Match. I am helpless as it has been a tradition and had to be adhered to." 

Despite not being consistent, when fortune smiles, take it, but it's not going to help the individual's future. There should be a change. 

The past is forgotten, the present is known, but the future is unknown. The Sports Board must take a serious view. 

Another ardent cricket fan and an outstanding cricketer of yester-year, who played in the "Battle of the Blues" from S.Thomas' said in the past there was tremendous competition even to play in a school game, let alone the Big Match. School cricket standards have dropped allround. 

There is quantity, but no quality. Still colours should not be given on a platter, for playing in the Big 'un. Overnight he becomes a senior. It's not fair by the lad, who has been a consistent performer to be called upon to take orders from the coloursman, who can't hold his place in the side. 

Apparently in some schools parents and old boys have a say in the selection. Even the claims of the poor talented players are overlooked. Kissing goes by favour. 

Aparently this is happening at junior level, where some parents curry favour with those, who control the game. BW

Thurstanites hard nuts to crack but Isipatana has the edge 

By Shamil Amit
The month of February is the traditional time for the beginning of the big matches and as usual the honour of staging the first of the big matches falls on Isipathana and Thurstan to be played on February 22 and 23 at the SSC grounds. 

This is the second time the game will be played at this grounds the earlier occasion being in the year 1968. This will be the 39th in the series with Thurstan in the lead with five wins as against four to Isipathana and twenty eight drawn.Isipathana's last win was in 1999 under the captaincy of Krishantha Jayawardena while Thurstan last won in 1992 under Mackenzie Perera.

On paper Isipathana seems to be the better side with a better record this season having played 14 matches losing one to DSS and the rest drawn while Thurstan have played twelve matches with outright losses against Lumbini MV and Maris Stella. 

But when it comes to the traditional big matches no quarters are asked or given the players play with more cohesion and are determined not to lose. 

Isipathana is led by that stylish left handed bat Rohan de Silva who has been in fine fettle this year having scored over 600 runs and will be looking forward for support from his deputy Oshadee Nawaragodagedera, a good allrounder and has a century to his credit this season against Dharmapala Pannipitiya. 

Apart from these two Isipathana will be also be hoping that their openers Chanuka Perera and Saman Nishantha to give them a good start Saman has not been that consistent this season there may be last minute changes if the need arises. Others to bolster the score will be Amal Peiris and allrounder Saranga Perera. The bowling attack will be spearheaded by Saranga Perera and Damith Dushantha with the skipper Rohan and Oshadee to support them.

Thurstan on the other hand though having a lean season will be hard nuts to crack. Led by that versatile allrounder and fifth year Gihan de Silva his bowling has been the forte this season, a leg spinner and an able supporter to his opening bowlers Asela Umayangana and Osuka Mahaarachchi. His deputy Damith Indika an Under 19 national player will be expected to give off his best. Damith has not been able to perform to the full season this year as he had been in the Under 19 pool. The openers Sandaruwan Wijesundara and Dinesh Perera should give them a good start if they are to make a match of it with Sanjeewa Nishantha who has been in the runs this season scoring nearly 800 runs to support the batting line up. It will be a keen tussle for supremacy which is played for the Blackham Wijewardena Memorial Trophy.

Focus on the probables

The national players have just completed a well earned rest and have taken a back seat in local cricket in the recent weeks. The Kenyans in the island, the three domestic tournaments, the concluded Under-l9 world Cup and school cricket have dominated coverage of sports news.

Kenya was very disappointing in the opening two unofficial Test against Sri Lanka "A". Only on day one of the first Test did they impress by notching up 282 for 8. A good number of runs in a day's cricket. From then on it has been all downhill for the African nation. It is only by performing exceptionally well on tours such as this that the Kenyans can stake any claims to play Test cricket. With it being evident that Bangladesh were admitted far too early into the fold, the Kenyans who are next on the list seem to have a long wait.

Local "A" team players, on the other hand, have regular opportunities to keep their senior counterparts on their toes with outstanding performances in these games. The distinctive highlight of the two games was the triple century partnership between Upul Chandana and Tillekaratne Dilshan.

Captain Chandana followed up with two good bowling performances too. He had match figures of 32-6-73-6. That, following the blistering knock of 192 runs. A superb all-round performance on any count.

The leg spinner/batsman/crack fielder, has been hitherto used mainly in the one day games. Perhaps it is time the roles are reversed. Forget Chandana as a one day player, use him only for the long game from now on! Muttiah Muralitharan will need a genuine spin bowling sooner than later. Sri Lanka has succeeded with half spinner (a whole breed of them), but that cannot be relied on in the long term.

The art of spin bowling to pick up wickets is so different to containing batsman with defensive field placings. Flight, line, length, variations have all got to be precise, to bowl to attackingly set fields, on good pitches, against good batsman. Some spinners who play in both forms of the game from a young age can counter the required changes sufficiently quickly. Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Saqlain Mustaq, Anil Kumble are the lot. That is a very small percentage. Upul Chandana who can become a genuine all-rounder should be given the opportunity.

Young Dilshan who should start to reach the peak of his batting ability in a couple of years must be pleased and relieved at getting a big score in Matara. On his entry to big cricket he displayed a sound technique and a balanced temperament.

However, like many other succumb under pressure and demand. It's a tough call for any youngster when failure follows and the runs dry up. Success breed success and Dilshan must make the most of the new1y found lease of life.

Avishka Gunawardena, Chamara Silva, Micheal Van Dort, Upeka Fernando, Ian Daniel are the fringe batsmen who have to make good the opportunity. They have to realise that half centuries are inadequate. When they get to fifty the target must be to get to a century and then upto one hundred and fifty and beyond. It is only regular performances of that magnitude that pinches the selectors to open the doors, often forcibly.

Lack of penetrative bowlers has been the weakness in Sri Lanka's cricketing armoury that has stunted success, particularly away from home. That is being rectified slowly, but acceleration is required. The Kenyans have hitherto not been able to handle spin and Chandana, Herath, Puspakumara have been rewarded with Ruchira Perera being the best of the quicker bowler.

Still its not encouraging with no one being dangerous enough to even pick up a five wicket haul. This is even greater reason for Upul Chandana to be given all the encouragement, assistance, training and opportunities to be coached and watched by top class spin bowling coaches.

Batsmen can score runs, but should your bowler not get the opposition out twice, matches cannot be won?

Amerasinghe in stylish win takes Exel Trophy

golfer Rathven de Livera heads the exel Group of companies and they specialize in flooring material and sanitaryware with success. Staunch supporters of golf they lavishly sponsored the February 2002 Medal round at the Ridgeways of the Royal Colombo Golf Club at which there was a tremendous tussle for supremacy in the "A" Division Classic between Chula Amerasinghe and Alain Gyi. 

Chula hits a great tee shot and on Saturday he was probably at his very best. He plundered a few birdies, captured a few pars and messed around a couple of times. His nett 70, one under par equalled Alain Gyi's score but having struck a better nine he pipped Gyi to collect the "A" Classic. Anel de Silva and Chellapah Thurairaja played well with 80 and 84 respectively. 

"B" Division 
Tenacious C. Twenbold struck the limelight after a long lapse. Playing off 13 he compiled a well measured gross 81 nett 68 to win the "B" Division category beating David Gyi by a slender margin of one stroke. Coming close behind with one under par nett rounds were Rohan Perera, Chutti's son Omar Munsoor and my 4 ball partner of the old days Ray Lapsley. Other creditable rounds came off the club heads of Premier Pacific Nimal Perera and Uncle Willie Barsenbach who settled for 71 each. The disaster zone was occupied by Harin Udeshi, Elmo de Silva, Jit Wanigasekera, Surath Wickremasinghe, Avanka Herath and Rohan Fernando. 
"C" Division 
Caeser Fernando was inviting the attention of the Handicap Committee when he cracked a smartly compiled nett 68. Extremely keen and enthusiastic about the game he was moving about with a semi-permanent smile pleased with the success of his effort. Gerard Fernando also had a very praiseworthy round with a 2 under par nett 69. After incessant hours at the nets Lester Weinman came exceptionally good with a one under par nett 70. His body movement is less boisterous which gives him greater balance resulting in more accuracy off the tees. He was long, sure of himself and quite proud with his success. 

Thegan de Silva, H.A.S. Madanayake and H. Samaranayake collected excellent nett par rounds. There were loads of cracking centuries with the disaster zone packed to capacity. The outer bounds locality was riddled with straying shots and the pond boys made a harvest. Those who were identified as substantial contributors were Stanley Almeida, Nick Cherrill, Joseph Kenny, M.I.F. Macpherson, Dian Jayasuriya, Baboo Wickremaratne, Travis Fernandopulle, Tissa Wickremasinghe to name a few. 

M. Jameel was back again battling his way to success. He shot 2 under par nett 69 in style beating the popular veteran Willie Barsenbach to take the trophy for the Seniors. 
C. Twenbold had a massive battle with David Gyi which appeared to be going Gyi's way when a spell of untidiness set into Gyi's game. He lost a few strokes, lost his way and Twenbold carried the plum award with nett 68 against Gyi's nett 69. 

It was a well organised competition ably handled by Steward Ariyadasa under the guidance of Lalith Ramanayake the Vice- Captain. The sponsors dovetailed the arrangements to complete a good event. Thanks to Exel Trading and Rathven de Livera.

Right of reply

The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, as part of its continuous efforts to improve the infrastructure of cricket in this country, have planned a major modernization project for the Galle International Cricket Stadium, in which this venue will undergo considerable uplifting of its facilities.

This project includes the construction of a modern Grandstand at the stadium, which will add a large section for the use of media personnel. The plan includes a spacious Press Box for the print and electronic media, several roomy cubicles for radio and television commentators, modern communication facilities, large toilets, hospitality boxes, etc.

This project was scheduled to begin in the latter part of 2002 after the current international matches are over, and is targeted for completion by the time the next international match is played at Galle in 2003. Preliminary designs which were forwarded by contractors are already being examined by the BCCSL.

Rover pin points

Look out for new NSC Chairman 
The new Minister of Sports is looking out for a person of repute and honesty to be the Chairman of the National Sports Council. 
What a mockery?
At the Uyanwatte Stadium Matara, the Press Box, where the second 'Unofficial' cricket Test between Sri Lanka 'A' and Kenya was played a few raised eyebrows, when a journalist was seeing enjoying his yogurt with a lid of an aerated water bottle as spoons were not provided. 
What a shame!
Who is this Sri Lankan cricketer who abused a Sri Lanka journalist in his own vehicle in filth forgetting the support given to make him what he is today.

This bowler has gone to say that once he gets 600 wickets he will never talk to the local journalists but only to the foreign journalist. Has he forgotten his past. Rover asks is this the gratitude for the support given !!. 

Talk of the town
A senior rugby player who captained his team to win a triple has failed to get elected to the General Committee while a complete outsider has been elected to serve on the General Committee without any rugby playing background.
Can you believe this
Cheating was the order of the day at the International Schools athletic meet specially in the 100 metres (relay boys where runners from a certain school were allowed to change their lanes without the track judges noticing it.
Why two associations ?
One wonders as to which women's cricket association the new Minister of Sports will recognise. 

Could it be the one headed by Mrs. Gwen Herat or the one headed by Mrs. Kumaratunga. Rover understands the more active association is the one headed by Mrs. Herat.

It's high time the Minister steps in where Sri Lanka would be able to field the best team for the Women's World Cup in New Zealand, next year. 

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