CH pulls off thrilling win to enter semis
By M.Shamil Amit
The inaugural Inter-Club and Inter-Schools knock-out rugby tournament for the Premier Champions Trophy got under way yesterday at the Sugathadasa Stadium with only the pre-quarter finals and quarter finals of the Inter-School and Inter Club being worked off. The planned opening ceremony which was scheduled to be held at 4.30 p.m. had to be cancelled due to heavy rain.

The tournament which was previously played for the Premadasa Trophy had its named changed to Premier Champions Trophy. The competition is organised by the Ministry of Sports. The absence of rugby champs Kandy SC cut out the glamour in the club tournament while many prominent schools have kept off from the inter-schools tournament due to exams.

With the exception of Isipathana and St. Peter's the schools section is filled with weak teams and the two teams mentioned here are the favourites to enter the finals. The tournament started off with pre-quarter finals of the Under 13 (Ten-a-Side) games where Vidyartha beat Prince of Wales 20-0, Isipathana beat St. Sylvester's 9-6, Zahira beat Ananda 5-0 and Science College beat Nalanda 24-0. In a quarter final game of the Under 15 (12 a Side) game Royal overcame Vidyartha 10-0.

Ananda thrashed Science College 36-nil in an Under 17 encounter and Isipathana drubbed the hapless Carey ruggerites 43-nil in the Under 19 category. Both were quarter final encounters. The much looked forward to inter-club encounter between CH and FC and Havelocks turned out to be a thriller in the pouring rain. The players had difficulty in handling, the wet ball. CH took the lead with two tries and the Havies replied with a goal.

At the breather the scores read 10-7 in favour of CH. Resuming the second half CH increased the lead with a goal to make it 17-7. Havies fought back with a goal to make it 14-17. A few minutes later Havies equaled through a penalty. When the long whistle sounded the score remained deadlocked at 17 all. Extra time too produced no result and the winner was decided on penalties. CH succeeded by putting over three as against two by the Havelocks.

Today's scheduled games - Under 13 - St. Joseph's vs Wesley, St John's vs S. Thomas Prep. Under 15 - Thurstan vs Nalanda. Under 17 - Wesley vs Mahanama. Under 19 - Dharmaraja vs Nalanda. Inter Club - CR and FC vs Galle RFC.

Sports Day for Jaipur limb users
The Colombo Friend-in-Need Society will hold its annual Sports Festival for Jaipur Limb users on November 2 (Sunday) at the Reid Avenue Grounds, Colombo 7.

About 500 participants are expected to take part in the Sports Festival out of which 50 will be children under 14 years of age. Five of the best young performers will be given the opportunity to participate at the Asia Pacific Games for the Disabled in 2003 to be held in Hong Kong.

The Sports Festival will comprise 46 track and field events some of which include 100, 200 and 400 metres running, cycle races, putt shot, long jump and archery. Every participant will be given a gift pack, a 'T' shirt, cap, lunch and a travelling allowance while the winners will be awarded gifts, medals and certificates.

Madugoda elected Galle captain
L.W.J. Madugoda of Mahinda College, Galle will lead the Under 13 Galle District hockey team for the Under 13 All Island Inter-Schools hockey tournament to be held in Colombo at the end of this month.

The Pool: L.W.J. Madugoda, Y.B.T. Madushan, T.D.K. Kohoban, R.S.A. Anushka, H.M. Kalansooriya, C.T. Weeratunge (all from Mahinda College). S.L. Godage, M.K. Krishan Chaminda, R. Sirimanne, Sarinda Jayasinghe, H.A.R. Arjuna, A.H.M. Sampath, R.N.P. Nanayakkara (all from Richmond College). U.D.A. Chandana, S.H.M. Unufus, R.G.D. Lanka, L.L. Kodagoda (all from St Aloysious College). K.M. Sandun Tharaka, J.K. Janith Shantha, K. Chaturanga, J.L.P. Madushanka, Prabath Sanjeewa (all from Siri Dharma College). G.H. Shanuka Viraj, G. Gayan Madushanka (Vidyaloka College) -MSA

Umpires are burdened with too many games
ICC should expand the Umpires Panel
By Marlon Fernandopulle
The move by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reduce the Panel of International Test Umpires from 20 to an elite panel of eight earlier this year was perceived to be a step in the right direction. However after just a few months where around 20 -25 tests were played it has been observed that the ultimate objective of the exercise which was to minimize the errors by the onfield umpires has not been met.

Some of the Tests played in the recent past and the ongoing Test series between Australia -Pakistan and India-West Indies is testimony to the current situation.What is alarming is that errors or mistakes are made by the elite umpires who not so long ago had an exceptional or a commendable record. Infact it was due to this record that the eight umpires were selected from the original panel of twenty.Why then are these elite umpires making the wrong judgement more frequently now?

Is it due to the pressure of officiating in too many games within a short period? When the twenty umpires were in the fray, one of them was picked by the ICC to stand along with a home umpire picked by the home Board for a Test match. Today, it is mandatory for two umpires from the elite eight to officiate in each and every test match.Whether it is played between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe or Australia and England the ICC insists that two of the eight umpires officiate the game. In addition one of these eight umpires are also required to stand in every One day International played.

With the quantum of test and one day cricket played around the globe at any given time, it is ridiculous to think that eight umpires elite or not, could handle all the games. In many situations they are required to travel from one country to another within a couple of days of officiating in one test match.

The pressure is indeed too much. To think that an umpire will be fully focused and concentrating totally for five days after successive tests and excessive traveling is unimaginable. They are human, and the tendency is that there would be a lapse of concentration which may result in a wrong judgement. Umpires should be allowed a minimum number of days between tests inorder to re-charge their batteries and gather their concentration and be fully focused on their job.

Take the case of Steve Bucknor. First week of October he is in Colombo officiating in the first test between Australia and Pakistan. The second week he is in Sharjah for the second and third test and is likely to fly to Australia or South Africa for his next assignment before the end of the month.

Englishman David Shepherd was in Colombo earlier this month after which he flew to New Delhi and then to Madras to officiate in the India-West Indies test. Soon he will be heading either to South Africa or Zimbabwe for his next assignment. So many tests, and so much of travelling in a month! No wonder these umpires have been making glaring errors since late.

With the Five Ashes Tests and a triangular in Australia, Bangladesh & Sri Lanka touring South Africa, West Indies in India and Pakistan in Zimbabwe the Tests and One-day International scheduled for this summer is hectic. Umpires will be flying from Calcutta to Capetown and from the Wanders to the WACA. Even the ICC would not have envisaged such situations when they pruned down the Umpires from twenty to eight.

Thus it's best that the ICC re-think their strategy on the appointment of Umpires for tests and one dayers. One option that is readily available for the ICC would be to expand the current elite panel to at least twelve umpires. thereby reducing the pressure on the current eight umpires which in turn should help to get the best of the men in white coats.

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