The bowlers impress
The major positive factor to emerge from the two Test matches played against New Zealand was the emerging of Prabath Nissanka and Kushal Lokuarachchi. In their first two outings they displayed potential as future prospects.

Should Sri Lanka be able to draw on six top class bowlers to serve in one day and Test encounters, then together with the support bowler, the attack is complete. Australia has just that at present. A major reason for their dominance is that. They have Glen McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Bret Lee, Andy Bichel, Stuart McGill and Brad Hogg, with Shane Warne serving a year’s suspension. A healthy crop with all the required ability and variety.

Sri Lanka have Muttiah Muralitharan at the top as a world class spinner and the best in his trade. He passed yet another landmark in capturing 450 Test wickets and also bagging five wickets in an innings more than any other bowler. There is much written and spoken these days about his future. At thirty-one years of age he is very fit and agile and he should go on playing both forms of the game. He has to work closely with the physio and maintain his body. The player knows best about rest. He should be honest about it and should he feel so then take a break to recuperate.

Chaminda Vaas continues to toil in the true fashion of a workhorse. In terms of wickets, the returns were not significant. However, on two unresponsive surfaces he was accurate and made the batsmen work for every run against his bowling. He and Muralitharan complete the duo of experience.

Dilhara Fernando missed out earlier through injury but has surprisingly been omitted from the one-day squad. He is the quickest bowler in the country. He has troubled the best batsmen in the world with the extra pace and bounce he processes. He bowls no ball and wides and his head drops at the point of delivery. The coach should be in a position to sought out those defects. There must be short term, medium term and long term plans to develop technique and correct defects of young players who come out of school and show promise of reaching national level. Dilhara Fernando should be number three of the top six bowlers. He must be back playing at the very next opportunity.

Add the two new finds Prabath Nissanka and Kaushal Lokuarachchi and that makes it five. Two right arm pacies, one left arm pacie, an off spinner and a leg spinner is a good mix of bowlers.

The other bowlers who should be matured are, Tharanga Lakshitha, Kaushal Weeraratne and Chamila Gamage (pace), together with the two off spinners, Tilan Samaraweera and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara. The talent is available in that lot. The progress must be monitored to ensure, develop and get better and not fall by the wayside. What must be inculcated in them is to go for big returns. On days when they are on song, be it club cricket, first class or international games, to get five wickets or more should be the goal. That is the equal to a batsman scoring a century or more.

Hashan Tillekaratne took the batting honors for Sri Lanka. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are persisted with because of the abundance of talent they have. It is time they converted the good-looking forties and fifties into big hundreds regularly. They are both considered long-term investments and will naturally obstruct the way for other potential players like Michael Van Dort and Jehan Mubarak. That is the way it goes. They will have to bide their time and keep scoring runs at the level they play at.
New Zealand will have more reason to be satisfied with two draws than Sri Lanka. They lost the last two series and this result will be sufficient relief.

Another milestone in cricket
125th 'Battle of the Blues'
By Bernie Wijesekera
If cricket is discussed at school level - without doubt the Royal-Thomian match has many firsts since its inception. It's one of the oldest cricket matches played in its true traditions and has maintained the spirit of the game on and off the field. The 125th encounter is to be staged on March 12, 13 and 14, 2004 probably at the SSC or at the Kheththarama Stadium.

The joint committee, the Royal College Old boys’ Union and S.Thomas' Old boys’ Association, has been formed to organise and streamline this great happening. Another milestone in their cherished history. The 25-member committee, with Chanaka de Silva, M. Balasubramaniam, Tryphon Mirando and Dian N. Jayasuriya (Co-chairmen), with Abhaya Amaradasa and Dilrukshan Tillekeratne (Joint Secretaries). The steering committee will comprise H.L.B. Gomes (Principal of Royal) and David Ponniah (Warden S.Thomas'). This was revealed at a media briefing held on May 5.

In its wake it's going to be a tremendous tourist attraction where the old boys living in all parts of the globe will wend their way for this encounter - staged amidst pomp and pageantry. Probably the main event in the Sporting Calendar 2004, will be preceded by a Fair and Exhibition. It will be sandwiched by a Motor Show, Aqua Fashion and a Water Ballet. A commemorative stamp too will be issued to mark the occasion.

The first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, late D.S. Senanayake, his son Dudley, Francis Molamure, J.R. Jayewardene, George Rajapakse, Sir John Kotalawala, Tissa Kapukotuwe etc. donned the pads in this traditional match. Unlike today, they separated politics from sport and played for the right reasons. All forgotten after the match and bonhomie prevailed which helped them greatly in their later life.

The first encounter was in 1880 played at Galle Face. Royal College (then Colombo Academy) and S. Thomas' College. Since then it went uninterrupted despite two World Wars - itself a World Record. Not even the Eton-Harrow apparently played in England has such a proud record. A book will be jointly compiled for publication and sponsored by Ceylinco Group and Seylan Bank.

Players from all walks of life in the past took the field. They were blind to racism, caste or creed. But has built an everlasting bridge for peace and harmony for the future young generations to emulate.

There will be a joint Walk on Feb. 28, 2004. Part of the funds accrued may be diverted to help the needy, according to an official in the committee. At the end of the day one will have to leave his family, fame and wealth. Everything is temporary. Balanced thinking what matters for the greater good and help the less priviledged.

Fortunate to have covered the Centenary (1979), when the Thomian grit prevailed to thwart a right Royal victory thanks to barnacle Bailey effort coming from Mahinda Halangoda and C.P.P. Richard. The chief guest was late President J.R. Jayewardene. The vicory celebrations were on the offing, with a huge cake - with the Thomians sitting on a bed of nails with imminent defeat staring.

In the end the Royalists were made to eat a humble pie thanks to the heroics of Mahinda and Richard. Prasanna Lenaduwa and Sudarshan Ahangama are the Co-treasurers. Oldboys and well-wishers living at home and abroad could contact on a Web Site

They are planning ahead looking to all aspects including the weather. This is something the controlling bodies should take note of rather than dabbling sports with politics. The joint committee comprising professionals with administrative background not mere figure heads.

Quarter finalists emerge in WP rugby
After the completion of the preliminary round matches of the Under 17 Western Province rugby tournament conducted by the Western Province Rugby Football Union. Mahanama, Asoka, Wesley, Isipathana, Ananda, Zahira, St Joseph's and Lumbini MV have qualified to play in the quarter finals which is scheduled to be played on May 12 at the Zahira College grounds in Maradana. The line up of the quarter final matches are Mahanama vs Asoka, Wesley vs Isipathana, Ananda vs Zahirs and St Joseph's vs Lumbini MV.-MSA

CH crush Kurunegala RFC

As expected in a one sided game CH and FC overcame Kurunegala RFC by 93 points (nine goals, six tries) to 3 (one penalty) in the Caltex 'A' Division Inter Club rugby encounter played at Maitland Place yesterday. At lemons the winners led 45 nil. The lads from Kurunegala are improving with every game that they are playing after the 172-0 drubbing they got from the the league champs Kandy SC a few days ago.

It is unfortunate to see them being included in the big league as they are playing big time rugby after a lapse of nearly six years. Nevertheless they should be commended for patrticipating in the 'A' Division which probably maybe against their will. Steps are being taken to include two foreign players to the side but will it prove worthwhile with no big names in the side to support the foreign players. The match was controlled by Rohan Nishantha.-MSA

The old order must some day give into the young: Rashid
By Bernie Wijesekera
The present Pakistan team under Rashid Latiff, is being groomed for the 2007 World Cup, said Manager Haroon Rashid, in an interview with The Sunday Times. It's a talented side picked on form with total commitment. Pakistan has close relationships with Sri Lanka on and off the field.

The Pakistanis aspire to win the triangular (one day series) among Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Without some of the seniors the youngsters have proved their mettle during their short span. They proved it after the setbacks in the last World Cup, held in S. Africa, by winning the Sharjah triangular series joined by Sri Lanka and Zimbabawe.

Have seasoned campaigners Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Inzamam-ul Haq called it a day? No. They could stage a comeback. Inzamam has injury problems. He has to overcome this and be fit. He could still contribute much for the game.

What 's wrong with that talented opener Imran Nazir who is a brilliant world class fielder? He did well against Australia in the neutral Test staged at the P. 'Sara' Stadium. His batting form has deserted him in recent times. One can't live on past performances alone. He has to fight back to regain his place not on mere fielding.

What about your pace attack without Wasim and Waqar? There is M. Sami, Umar Gul (right-arm fast), lanky Shabbir Ahamad, who will be joined by Shoaib Akthar - the 'Rawalpindi Express'. He is now bowling a better line and length than solely depending on pace. Incidentally Shoaib, blew apart the Aussies (in the neutral Test) at the P. 'Sara' - 5 wickets in 15 balls - a spell that Steve Waugh described as a 'great spell'.

There are quite a number of bowling allrounders in the side which is vital for an overs game led by Abdur Razzak. He is a hard-hitting batsman, who could be a nightmare to the bowlers when in the mood. His bowling is not that all fast, but possesses a skidding bouncer. Another bowling allrounder Shoaib Malik, has been a consistent run-getter and an off-spinner. M. Azeez a batting allrounder, Taufeeq Umar, a compact lefthanded opener, who scored a defiant 84 against the Aussies in the neutral test, is also an 'offie'.

He is groomed to take the place of Saeed Anwer. Karachi -born Hindu Danish Kaneira, has impressed as wily leg-spinner. Joined by two seasoned middle-order batsmen Youhana and Younis Khan, who made a debut Test 100 against Sri Lanka at Karachi.

Another talented player Faisal Iqbal, is showing up well. Under pressure Iqbal scored a stroke-filled 83, against the Aussies at P. 'Sara' in the neutral test. The fielding is exceptionally good, even without Nazir. In the warm-up match the boys batted reasonably well against Sri Lanka 'A'. Pity the bowlers could have got a good workout when the rains came down at the P. 'Sara'. The pitch was quite good and lively, Rashid said.

Rashid Latif, leads the young side with much understanding. The team is being coached by Javed Miandad - a cricketing legend in Pakistan. He scored 281 against Sri Lanka in the Faisalabad Test where Lord 'Sid' Wettimuny too proved his class with 157. Incidentally Manager Haroon Rashid scored a debut Test 100 against Sri Lanka. He runs a Cricket Academy in Karachi.

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