England's Graham Thorpe celebrates his century against Sri Lanka. (Reuter)


Police striving for a rugby revival
By Bernie Wijesekera
If one talks about Sri Lanka's rugby history, then the Blue Shirts have contributed much for it. Police SC, rugby, has a special place in the local circuit.

They have produced some of the best, who made a name for themselves and for the country in general.

If one has to know about them - then, delve into their past. The former IGP, genial, Rudra Rajasingham, who captained the CR&FC played in the company of Summa Navaratnam, Mahes Rodrigo etc., later he led the Blue Shirts and did much for the development of the sport among the rank and file.

Later his good work was continued by IGP Ernest Perera. During his tenure Police rugby reigned supreme.

The team had the likes of S. Sivendran (who led the 'B' team) from the front to gain recognition to play in the big league. From then onwards there was no looking back. Players of the calibre of Banda, Chandrapala, Abdul Majeed, Ibrahim 'Tanker', Hamid Sourjah, Hajreen, Charles Wijewardena, Anton Benedict, Nimal Abeysinghe, Daya Jayasundera, Sam Samarasekera, H. Marso (the present coach) Nimal Lewke (present secretary rugby) Linton, 'Muruga' Jayaratne (present manager) etc., help them to dominate.

Times have changed with some of them going in search of greener pastures. One of them is the present Sri Lankan skipper Asoka Jayasena.

Unlike in the past talented sportsmen shun the Police as they were afforded with lucrative jobs in the private sector.

One has to laud the Police for keeping the game alive like the services and more competitive despite limited talent.

Last year, under Sri Lanka second row forward Lalith Leelaratne came fourth in the league and came to the K.O. final and lost to CR&FC speaks well for their devotion and dedication. Leelaratne, leads them again in the ongoing season. At present sidelined due to an ankle injury.

He was interviewed by The Sunday Times there is a squad of about 50 most of them new to the sport.

They are catching up fast and are prepared to learn the basics under the tutelage of Hafeel Marso. He is doing a good job. The chairman rugby committee, Daya Jayasundera and secretary Nimal Lewke is spending their precious time to mould the team to a competent outfit. It's nice to see some schoolboys joining the Police scrum. It augurs well for the future of the sport. Is the top brass giving the support like in the past? Yes. Failure teaches success. By their mistakes they learn for a better tomorrow.

The last match against the Army, the Cops could have won, but not for their lack of thinking whilst at the middle. Hadn't a leader to lead them from the front? (Leelaratne being sidelined.)

Kicking toe
But still has the soldiers retreating, if not for the kicking toe of T.A. Silva. Among the seniors in the side - the likes of utility player, Chinthaka Perera - a bundle of energy. Ajantha Rodrigo, fullback, Sampath Galewela (winger), Prop Anura Fernando (a Sri Lankan player), No. 8 Nalin Welagedera. Both are players from Dharmaraja (who earlier played for Kandy SC), Prop Chanaka Hewawasam, T.D. Herath, hooker Asela Mutumala and Harshana Wijeweera are the most experienced players.

In 1991 Police under Hemantha Yatawara won the league and the Premadasa Trophy. Two members of that winning team - Leelaratne and Chinthaka Perera are still key players in the present team.

S.A. 'Muruga' Jayaratne (the manager, led the Police in 1987), while coach Marso, a spot kicking maestro, captained the Blue Shirts in '89. The Police possess a tough set of forwards. They gave nothing away in the loose, in their tie against the Army. Once they improve their line and run the ball intelligently this will give a run to any side to make the league more competitive.

First Test in retrospect: A pitch too good
It could be termed as sensible to produce a good batting pitch for the opening Test match of a series. The opportunity is there for the batsman to strike form and be prepared for more bowler friendly pitches in the following games.

The batsmen amassed 1401 runs in the five days. During that period of time the bowlers were successful in dismissing only twenty one batsmen whilst there were three run outs. Even on the fifth day there was no difficulty in negotiating both pace and spin. It was therefore a pitch that was too good for batting and a result an impossibility.

Both teams packed their attacks with medium quick men. Each had four of them and all had plenty of work to do. They got all the needed match practice to perfect rhythm, line and length.

Whilst the pitch had reasonable carry and a fair amount of bounce, it lacked the pace for the bowler to penetrate the batsman's defense or to hurry them. Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara missed out on the first day. It was the ideal surface for Marvan Atapattu to bar and bat and bat. He relishes when he gets in and can go on without too much bother from the bowlers. He shrugged of the indifferent form of the last set of home Tests and made most of the opportunity.

On his comeback Aravinda de Silva was slow and steady. The arrogant, attacking batsmanship has now given way to mellow accumulating. His concentration did not waver until he gloved one to Stewart, down the leg side. He had a point to prove and justify the selectors' faith in him. Both were achieved and another feather in his cap. This could well have been his final Test appearance at Lord's and de Silva' departed with fond memories.

Perched on the opposite side of scale, Mahela Jayawardena, now on the brink of major achievements, reached three figures in a Test match for the first time overseas and what a venue he chose for that performance. Although he struggled with an injury and the restriction of mobility he was able to counter a more than useful England attack.

The trueness of the surface encouraged a lot of front foot play. The batsmen of both teams were quick to get into the front foot and stretch as far down the track as possible at every possible opportunity. This resulted in many front drives being executed - so beautiful to watch. Full flowing strokes on both the off and on side simply raced to the pickets on an outfield that is not too big. What was noticeable was evenness of the ground. Once the ball gathered momentum it simply slid away from the despairing fielders.

Sri Lanka's attack of three left armers somewhat confused their opponents in the first innings. It is such a rare experience for any batsmen to face upto such an attack and most of the Englishman got "Sucked in" to arriving outside the off stump in the first innings, resulting in a number of catches behind the stumps.

They learnt quickly, and were thorough in judgment and shot selection, when they were asked to follow on. Trescothick, Vaughan, Butcher, Hussain, Thorpe, Crawly, Stewart is a strong batting line up. There is plenty of experience and talent in that lot. They all took the opportunity to pile on runs. On day four and five the pitch was both good and easy to play on. It was a matter of not giving the wicket away.

Jayasuriya's defensive field setting also helped them. The bastman were rarely under pressure, with not many close to the bat. Once the openers chalked up 168 runs the Sri Lankans seemed content on going through the motions, until the next Test match.

Klose hat-trick helps Germany to 8-0 rout
SAPPORO, Japan, June 1 (Reuters) - Three goals from Miroslav Klose helped Germany to a 8-0 drubbing of dismal Saudi Arabia as the triple champions opened their World Cup campaign in stunning style at the Sapporo Dome on Saturday.

Two headed goals by Klose and a strike each from fellow striker Carsten Jancker and midfielder Michael Ballack enabled the Germans to lead 4-0 at halftime of their first group E game.

Klose completed the first hat-trick of these finals with another header after the break and defender Thomas Linke added a sixth in the 73rd minute before substitute Oliver Bierhoff (84) and Bernd Schneider (90) completed the humiliation.

They became the first team in 20 years to score eight in a finals match, Hungary having demolished El Salvador 10-1 in 1982 in Spain.

It was also Germany's biggest World Cup win and highest score in the finals, surpassing a 7-2 win over Turkey in 1954 when they first claimed the title.

Denmark win
ULSAN, South Korea, June 1 (Reuters) - Jon Dahl Tomasson headed his second goal seven minutes from time to give Denmark a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in their opening group World Cup Group A match on Saturday.

A spectacular volley by Dario Rodriguez just after halftime looked to have earned Uruguay a draw after Tomasson had put the Danes ahead just before the interval.
But the Denmark striker headed Martin Jorgensen's cross into the roof of the net to put his side top of the group standings, with world champions France bottom after losing 1-0 to Senegal on Friday.

Ireland held
CORK, Ireland, June 1 (Reuters) - After a week overshadowed by the fallout from captain Roy Keane's dramatic departure from the World Cup, Irish soccer fans finally had something to cheer on Saturday with their side's battling 1-1 draw with Cameroon.

Keane's return home after a row with coach Mick McCarthy divided fans back in Ireland and cast gloom across the country, where many had begun to predict an early exit from the tournament for a side shorn of their best player. "The whole Roy Keane thing has put a downer on the last couple of weeks but it was a great game and a draw's a good result," said Patrick O'Herlihy, watching the opening group E game on television at the Temple Acre Tavern, a regular haunt of Keane in his native Cork.

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