Tennis jnrs. battle for S Asian top rankings
Ten leading Sri Lankan junior players will battle for top rankings when they compete in two ITF Under 14 South Asia tennis tournaments to be held from January 26 to February 6, 2003. The local players will face stiff opposition from seven other countries namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and Mynamar.

All the players will undergo training sessions under ITF development officer Suresh Menon and at the end of the training he will decide the seedings for the first tournament. The seedings for the second tournament will be decided on the results of the first tournament. SLTA's CEO Boshan Dayaratne said that ranking points will be awarded in both the tournaments.

Coach cum captain Roshan Razick is very optimistic that three girls Amitha Arudpragasam of CIS, Thavindra Ekanayake and Navodhi Zoysa who are both from Visakha will finish among the top eight. The other two girls of the ten member team are Ruchika Alahakoon and Bincy Paramanathan who are both of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya. The boys team comprise of Kohulan Ravindrakumar of S.Thomas' Mt Lavinia, Chavi Talagala of Ananda, Mayuresh Rajaratnam of Royal, Rukmal Cooray and T. Dineshkanthan both of St Peter's Bambalapitiya. Coach cum captain Ganendran Subramaniam.

It is going to be one of the busiest season for tennis as this will be the first of the eight international tournaments which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka this year including the three US $ 10,000 Future Championships and the 10 nation Group Four Davis Cup tie. -MSA

Can our umpires stand the strain?
By Bernie Wijesekera
Can our umpires stand the strain of doing their job continuously without a break?. Will they be physically fit to discharge their duties to the satisfaction of the two participating teams? Like the players, they, too should have the physical fitness and mental toughness to stand up to a gruelling contest.

The school cricket season is on. The services of competent umpires is vital to serve the game in whatever level. The game and the players (especially the less affluent schools) from the outstations have suffered immensely - apparently, due to sub-standard umpiring.

If the game is to develop at grassroots level or otherwise - the umpires play a decisive role. They must act without fear or favour. There are quite a number of bent-arm bowlers in school cricket - be it in Colombo or in the outstations. Has the umpires got the guts to call them. No, fearing reprisals from some quarters.

This happened to an umpire officiating in a leading school's match in Colombo 10. In a recent schools match a player from a leading school was 'called', but he still continues without remedial measures for the future betterment, of the player concerned.

This was confirmed by Jayalath Aponso, who has played and a knowledgeable student of the game. Justice delayed is denied. Is there two sets of law even in sports too - to the privileged and the underprivileged. Even Nalanada coach Jayantha Seneviratne agreed to this effect. He said, there are quite a number of players with suspect action in the schools, but the school coaches have not taken remedial measures to overcome the flaw for the future betterment of the player concerned.

Here the umpire has to be on the ball, act without fear or favour rather than being in the good of the interested parties. In one of the games last weakened the umpire made a crucial blunder when he failed to give a batsman out - a straight forward catch and cost the fielding team dearly, when they were in control. He made an apology to the master-in-charge. But the damage was done.

Today some of the umpires are making a living out of umpiring. No one should bar them, as long as they are competent and fit to do so. But not seven days of the week. He may be during as on employment) to keep his family fire burning, but not at the expense of the game. Has he got the physical fitness to stand in humid conditions without a break. In any form of cricket the players are not on the field, during the entire duration. When one side bats first (all out) the other side walks.

The team that bats first then takes the field. The other team has a rest barring the two batsmen, who walks out. But not the umpires. Presently, school cricket is plagued by competitive cricket. Every team is hell bent to be in the running barring a few schools. In its wake it has lost its spirit - to win at all costs. Apparently this lead even to alleged chucking aided and abetted by the coach, too.

Presently, the umpires are well remunerated unlike in the past. They must be truthful to themselves and act according to their conscience than be tagged as cheats. Money is not everything in life nor it could bring a peace of mind. Maintain your dignity at all times. Apparently some umpires are at the behest of the first class players. They even go to the extent of calling them 'Sir' - to be in their good books - to gain recognition to reach higher levels.

The all-time great, late legendary Sir Don Bradman called the umpire 'Sir'. Umpires should not stand if their moral or mental condition is low must not serve the game purely for material gains. Must strive to adhere to three things - commitment, loyalty, dignity on and off the field. At the end of the day he must be able to walk out of the field with his head high.

As Dickie Bird, an umpiring legend won respect all round for maintaining the dignity of the game. He, too may have made human errors, but never tired to balance it but started anew. Bird never depended much on the electronic eye, but on the human - eye for his decision making.

He commanded respect all round. Quite a popular figure among the players. Controversies raged at times on the field. But Bird with a bird's eye view from the middle controlled the game, but not the match referee, unlike at present times. Bird, played the game with the likes of Sri Lanka's Stanley Jayasinghe and Clive Inman for Leicestershire etc., later took upto umpiring for the right reasons with a view to the game. In the sub-continent too he officiated in the venues like - "boiling cauldrons", Eden Gardens and Lahore before milling crowds, but never lost his confidence even under pressure.

Mutwal SC enter Div. III final Round
Mutwal S.C., led by former Josephian cricketer Vinod Sivapragasam with a fine all round team effort remained unbeaten to enter the BCCSL organised Div. III tournament which is now in progress.

Despite trying times Mutwal S.C. kept the game going giving encouragement to youngsters drawn from the schools in and around, Colombo North. Former Cricket Board official and lawyer late Ranjith de Silva was a live-wire of MSC and with other diehards did much for its continuity. The Mutwal Club registered four outright wins to remain unbeaten in their group.

Beat Liberty C.C. by 9 wickets.

(Played on 08/12/02 at the President's College grounds, Rajagiriya) Liberty C.C. - 87 all out in 26 overs.(Mark Fernando 3/18, B. Jeganathan 3/26, D. Cramer 3/18) Mutwal S.C. - 89 for 1 in 18 overs. (L. Hettiarachchi 24, A. Fernando 33 n.o., A. Rajaratnam 22 n.o.)

Beat Colts C.C. by 5 wickets.
(Played on 19/12/02 at Havelock Park)
Colts C.C. - 115 all out in 36.3 overs.
(A. Rajaratnam 2/6, B. Jeganathan 2/19, D. Cramer 3/16)
Mutwal S.C. - 116 for 5 in 26 overs. (B.Jeganathan 21, M.Fernando n.o.)
Beat Muthuwella P.S.C by 9 wickets
(Played on 22.12.02 at Wattala)
Muthuwella P.S.C - 168 all out in 41.1 overs (V.Sivapragasam 3/7, M. Fernando 2/25, D. Cramer 2/31)Mutwal S.C. - 170 for 1 in 16.1 overs (L. Hettiarachchi 47 n.o. A. Rajaratnam 94 n.o.)
Beat Yorkshire C.C. by 4 wickets.
(Played on 29/12/02 at Wattala)
Yorkshire C.C - 239 for 9 in 50 overs. (L. Jayasinghe 2/27, B. Jeganathan 2/57)
Mutwal S.C - 243 for 6 in 47 overs. (P. De Silva 59, A. RAjaratnam 34, B. Jeganathan 25, L. Jayasinghe 36 n.o., V. Sivapragasam 30 n.o). -B.W.

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