The Sunday TimesTimesports

18th August 1996




CR’s camera-shy coach says “give the credit to the team”

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Not surprisingly the architect of CR & FC’s sensational success in this year’s rugby league, shuns publicity and cameras. After a few futile attempts I managed to track him at the Tennis courts at Longden Place, and the first question posed was, “Are there any cameras around”? Once assured that no photographers were around, the dimunitive coach grinned and settled to spell out CR’s success story to The Sunday Times.

“It’s the players and the club that deserves all credit. I am only lucky to be there at the correct time and correct place,” said a smiling C.P. Abeygunawardena.

CR & FC young and relatively inexperienced, but their keenness and commitment to the game helped overcome all odds and conquer the plum of local rugby.

The resurgence of CR & FC this year and the dizzy heights they have reached with their scintillating brand of rugger, has come as a surprise even to some of the club’s ardent fans. However to the to man who made it all possible coach Abeygunawardena, that is not so.

“Preparation for this year’s league began no sooner last season ended. A pool of around 25 players were selected and physical training began in early January. From there onwards, it was training for 2-3 days a week on Basic skills” said C. P. when The Sunday Times asked what the secret behind CR’s success was.

Coach Abeygunawardena said, “It was brilliant leadership by the skipper Viraj Prasanna and an extremely talented and young side that helped CR & FC to win the league after 22 years Viraj was an exceptional captain. He led from the front and by example and commanded the respect of his players both on and off the field. Most of all the players enjoyed their practices, loved to learn and were very enthusiastic.

“The inexperience of the players was exposed during preparations for the final game against Kandy when nerves began to show. According to CP during these practices passes were sloppy, kicking was astray and some players were complaining that the time was also not passing. It was here that the experience of CP and a couple at senior players chipped in to defuse the tension.

“CR & FC were also fortunate to have the services of talented foreigners like Tavita Tulagese, Nixon Junior and Joel Pera. Apart from their talents on the field, their contribution towards improving the skills of the local players was a big boost. Their knowledge and skill of the game is enormous and it has helped me as a coach to further my know-how on the game”, CP said.

Coach Abeygunawardena had a brief stint with CR & FC as coach in 1987 (when CR ended up as runners up) and in 1988. He helped Asanga Seneviratne with the job last year before taking over this year.

CP’s formula for success was to instil discipline, give the boys a lot of responsibility and never revolve the game around the foreigners. “Discipline is of vital importance. The referees decision must be accepted at any cost. Right or wrong it should not be challenged,” stressed the former Sri Lanka scrum half.

CP is also of the view that the players should be given a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to decision-making on the field. This is one reason why CP is never on the bench during a game unlike most of his counterparts. He prefers to take a back seat during the game and make his observations and leave the decision-making to his players.

Cricket Board clamps total censorship

Manager, coach and captain told - “don’t talk to the media”

By Marlon Fernandopulle

On the eve of the Singer World Series cricket tournament the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka yesterday clamped down on the media and barred journalists from speaking to the cricket manager, coach or captain.

The move which is viewed as a total censorship on news related to Sri Lanka cricket prevents Duleep Mendis, Dev Whatmore or Arjuna Ranatunge from speaking to the press. Prior permission has to be obtained from the Cricket Board President Upali Dharmadasa if interviews are to be given to journalists.

“The Sunday Times” which wanted to obtain an interview, was bluntly told by Mr. Dharmadasa that no interviews would be allowed.

Mr. Dharmadasa claimed the restrictions on the media were not new and had been in force since 1980.

But he seems to be unaware that interviews have been given by the cricket manager, coach or captain on a regular basis during the past.

Any restriction in the past was only for the players and not for the coach, manager or captain.

“The Sunday Times” was told that any questions regarding the team must be submitted to the President himself or to the Chief Executive Officer of the Board.

Since both these officials were not involved directly in the training and preparations of the cricketers “The Sunday Times” did not submit the questions to them because their answers would apparently have been superficial.

As a sop Mr. Dharmadasa said he would issue media releases and call a news conference next week to brief the media.

Media releases and news conferences are well and good. But are Cricket Board officials trying to act like petty dictators in muzzling the voices of the captain, coach and manager who have in recent months played a dynamic role in lifting Sri Lanka to be world champions.

Sri Lanka have a huge public following for the game. After winning the World Cup the interest generated has been unprecedented. The people want to know all about what our national cricket heroes are doing and jackbooted officials in the Cricket Board have no authority to deny the people their right to be informed.

CRruising through to Carlsberg after twenty-two solid years

By S. Sivendran

CR & FC became worthy winners of the Carlsberg League Rugby championship when they scored an emphatic win over Kandy SC by 28 points to 5 points at Longden Place.

Before the game started both teams had equal billing as their performance had been equally good with CR & FC one match ahead with their earlier win over Kandy at Nittawela by a close 15-13 points in the first round. But as the game progressed the Red Shirts from Longden Place played top rate rugby to completely outplay the Kandy team in all departments.

Kandy on this day was minus their main playmaker Priyantha Ekanayake and CR & FC too was without their burly forward Lasitha Gunaratne. But inspite of these two star players not there, it was fine rugby. that was witnessed with all thirty players putting their hearts and souls into the game. The proceedings got so exciting, the crowds were seen struggling to get vantage points to witness this encounter.

CR & FC’s 28 points came from 4 goals which speaks volumes of their attacking run and pass rugby, whilst Kandy had to be satisfied with only an unconverted try for their 5 points Nalaka Weerakkody, the former Kingswood College player who is enjoying a wonderful season with the Red Shirts, scored first and added the extra points with his conversion to give CR & FC an early 7-nil lead which stood till half time.

During the second half CR & FC increased their lead to 14-nil with a try by their foreign forward Tarita Talugesto and converted by Nalaka Weerakkody. Then came their star centre Nixon Junior after a lay off for three weeks due to an injury, to score a try under the posts which was gleefully converted by Nalaka Weerakkody to stretch the CR lead to 21-nil.

Kandy SC continued to battle gamely and scored a try by Kitioni Ratudradra, their mainstay from Fiji. This went unconverted for the scores to read 21-5 in favour of CR.

During the dying stages the CR was seen in sweeping moves by their forwards and three-quarters and off one of these moves, the CR back division ran the ball well for centre Naufer Rahim to touch down - Nalaka made no mistake with the conversion for CR & FC to become the new rugby champs of Sri Lanka posting 28 points to Kandy’s meagre 5 points.

Golden Jubilee Junior TT

The Golden Jubilee Junior National TT championships organised by the Central Province TT Association on behalf of the TT Association of Sri Lanka will be held from September 27 to 29 at the Indoor Games Stadium of the University of Peradeniya.

Events will be held for boys and girls under 9, 11, 13 and 15 singles only, and boys and girls singles and doubles and mixed doubles.

Entries will close with Secretary, Captain D. G. R. Kaluarachchi, Central Province TT Association at Mahamaya BMV Kandy. The draw will be held on August 31.

The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports has donated Rs. 50,000/-. The National Savings Bank are the sponsors.

GSSA vs Soccer Fed

The Football Federation of Sri Lanka has turned down a request made by the Government Services Soccer Association to revive the Bandaranaike Memorial Football trophy tournament.

The Federation states that it does not want to use names of political figures in their tournaments.

The GSSA points out that the Federation has already given permission for the conducting of the Vijaya Kumaratunge, tourney.

HNB wins bank Netball title

Hatton National Bank retained the Inter-Bank Netball title with a crushing 31 goals to 1 win over Seylan Bank in the tournament organised and conducted by the Mercantile Amateur Athletic Association (Netball Section) played at the Police Park at Bambalapitiya.

The HNB lasses led 23-nil at the half. They also won the mixed title against the Sampath Bank and Seylan Bank as joint runners-up.

In the semi-finals in the Ladies tourney, HNB “A” beat HNB “B” by 13 goals to 1 while Seylan Bank beat People’s Bank by 11 goals to 3.

Earlier, in the run up to the semi-finals, HNB “A” emerged Group “A” champions defeating Bank of Ceylon “A” 41/4, People’s Bank 33/11, while People’s Bank beat Bank of Ceylon 16/14, Hong Kong Bank 18/15 and DFCC 16/3.

In Group “B”, HNB “B” beat Bank of Ceylon “B” 26/8, Sampath Bank 26/14, Standard Chartered Bank 37/1, Seylan Bank beat HNB “B” 16-14, Sampath Bank 24/14, Standard Chartered Bank 31/10.

Best male player - Jude Johnpulle (HNB).

Best shooter - Indika Liyanage (HNB).

Best Centre Court player - Thanuja Wijeratne (Sampath Bank).

Best defence - Somitha Kumari de Alwis (HNB).

Best team spirit - Sampath Bank.

Smartest team - Union Bank.

81st Tennis Nationals

Indo-Lankan final in Men’s Singles

The battle for the 81st Tennis Nationals men’s singles crown will be between Sri Lanka’s Jayendra Wijeyesekera and India’s Susheel Narla which is fixed for 3 p.m. today August 18, at the National Tennis Courts at Greenpath.

Defending champion and top seed Wijeyesekera had an easy passage defeating R. Balaji of India in his semi-final encounter. He won three straight sets 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 and Susheel Narla downed the bottom seed Rohan de Silva 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Narla suprisingly unseeded, first disposed of Vanaka Gunawardena, the 4th seed, in straight sets, before knocking out the bottom seed De Silva, whose service was broken time and again and faulted from the baseline.

In contrast to Wijeyesekera’s win in 75 minutes, De Silva struggled on Court No. 2. The match finishing in over 2 hours.

Meanwhile, the women’s singles final, will be a home and home affair between the top and bottom seeds Saranga Sangakkara and Upeka Wijeratne.

In their semi-finals clashes Sangakkara beat the dangerous looking Anuskha Rajiyah who beat the No. 4 seed Shalini Pereira in straight sets.

Rajiyah, the unseeded, went down fighting to Sangakkara 6-2, 6-4, while Wijeratne beat the No. 3 seed Sobhini Wickremahewa 6-2, 6-3.

The final between Sangakkara and Wijeratne is also fixed for 3 p. m. today on Court No. 2, while Wijeyesekera will battle Narla on Court No. 1.

The winner of the men’s single will carry away a cash prize of Rs. 25,000/= sponsored by Aggreko, while the winner in the women’s single will be presented with a cash award of Rs. 5,000/- in the championships sponsored by Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation.

In the semi-finals, the top seeds Sri Lanka’s Jayendra Wijeyesekera and Rohan de Silva were beaten by R. Balaji and C. V. Anand in a five setter.

The Lankan pair won the first and second sets at 6-1, 7-5, while the Indian’s won the third, fourth and fifth sets 6-4, 9-7, 8-6.

The unseeded Sudantha Soysa and Isuru Gunasekera who toppled the bottom seeds Lahiru Jayasuriya and Vanaka Gunawardena earlier met their waterloo being defeated by the Indian combination of A. Misra and S. Narla in three straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.

In the semi-finals, Sangakkara and Wijeratne beat Deepthika Goonaratne and Chaya Beling 6-2, 6-4 and Wickremahewa and Pereira downed Anuskha Rajiyah and Dinali de Silva 6-3, 6-4.

Saranga Sangakkara put herself in line for a triple when she won the women’s doubles and mixed doubles on the penultimate day last evening.

Sangakkara and Wijeyesekera won the mixed doubles defeating Sudantha Soysa and Upeka Wijeratne 6-2, 6-1. Partnering Wijeratne she beat Sobhini Wickremahewa and Shalini Pereira 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, to win the women’s doubles.

Katukurunda meet

The Ceylon Motor Sports Club plans to organise a meet on September 22, 1996. It is after a lapse of many years that such an event will be run. Entries will be out from August 12, 1996 from the Club office at Ms. Jinasena Ltd., 4, Hunupitiya Road, Colombo 2.

The main events that will be worked out are as follows:-

* a 3 lap classic cars event * a 4 lap ladies event * a 25 lap event for standard cars (Group A) * 20 lap event for modified cars * 20 lap event for turbo charged cars (Group M & T). This event will be run concurrently with the group M & S event. * a 12 lap event for Standard Formula cars (Group F) * a 15 lap event for motor bikes

Four wheel drive vehicles racing across 450 acres of sand, through a tarmac/gravel straight. It is the Desert Storm Auto Cross in Sri Lanka, organised by the Ceylon Motor Sports Club, will be held at Muthurajawala. It is an event for Auto Cross Super Cross and bikes. There will be events for bikes, cars and for jeeps/single/double cabs, both turbo and non turbo.

Desert Storm will be a test of driver’s control of his vehicle in varying surfaces from gravel to soft sand. The same challenge will face the riders as well.

The event is sponsored by Kelani Tyre Corporation, sole agents for Silverstone Tyres.

The event will take place on September 1. Entries for the event will be available from the club office, No. 4, Hunupitiya Road, Colombo 2 from August 12, 1996. Entries will close on August 24, 1996.

A. Motorcycles

1. Upto 125 cc; 2. Over 125 cc upto and including 200 cc; 3. Over 200 cc upto and including 400 cc

B. Motor Cars

1. Group A - Cars more than 12 kg/hp; 2. Group A - Cars more than 10 kg Ð13 kg/hp; 3. Group A - Cars more than 6 Ð 8 kg/hp; 4. Group M&S - Modified and special cars upto 1350 cc; 5. Group M&S - Modified and special cars over 1350 cc; 6. Group A - 4 wheel drive cars; 7. Group A - 4 wheel drive jeeps and single/double cabs Diesel; 8. Group C - 4 wheel drive jeeps and single/double cabs turbo charged/super charged/normally aspirated Petrol or Diesel.

Liaison Officers for Singer Cup

The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, has chosen the following to be the Liaison Officers for the four nations playing in the Singer World Series Limited overs Cricket Tournament commencing August 26.

They are Roshan Abeysinghe (Australia), Leo Wijesinghe (Zimbabwe), A. R. M. Aroos (Sri Lanka) and Lawrence Amarasena (India).

Minister to meet motor clubs

The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, S.B. Dissanayake has instructed the Deputy Director of Sports, Mrs. Padmini Siriwardena to summon all motor sports clubs for an emergency meeting and take stock of the situation concerning the non-active clubs.

The non-active clubs for the last three years whose registration with the ministry have lapsed will have to follow a new format to be drawn to promote their respective sports.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Sri Lanka Association for Motor Sports (SIAMS) are to be taken to court by some members, for its ignoring the protests made against some people.

A lot of complaints have been made to the SIAMS, but not even a acknowledgment has been received, some members said.

NAASU’s Seoul stand

By Annesley Ferreira

Many parents of swimmers and divers who have been picked to represent Sri Lanka at the 10th Asia Pacific swimming and diving championships in Pusan Korea next week strongly protested against the strange attitude of the National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union (NAASU).

These swimmers and divers were picked to participate after a trial conducted by the NAASU.

The parents of these participants allege that they were told by NAASU that they would have to pay US$ 600 for accommodation for 10 days at US$60 par day. The accommodation would be for three in a room inclusive of food.

This amount was reduced to US$ 500 plus Rs. 38000 each for air fare.

This was further reduced to Rs 35,000 after it was found that the air tickets cost less.

Why did this NAASU official demand this money from swimmers and divers, ask many parents.

The four swimmers and the divers made a request to the NAASU that they would be in a position to raise half the amount and requested help for the balance. The NAASU flatly refused. The swimmers and divers decided not to go.

The Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports when told of the plight of swimmers - Gheffari Dulapandan, Ajith Weerakkody, R. Ranjan and H. E. Nishantha (all outstation participants) Duleeka Nanayakkara and Divers - Jinanjali Wimalasena who is currently training in USA, had promised the money needed to send these swimmers and divers.

The parents of the swimmers and divers who had pawned their jewellery and even borrowed money and sold some valuables to raise the money are wondering why the Minister had not taken their plight into consideration.

The Sri Lanka swimming team comprises: Gheffari Dulapandan, R. Ranjan, H.E. Nishantha, Duleeka Nanayakkara, Ajith Weerakkody, Sujendra Mather, Conrad Francis, Sean Lee, Natasha Kodituwakku, Upeka Samarawickrama, Rasansi Lankage,, Menaka de Silva, Amanthi Senaratne, Theekshana Ratnasekera, and Radeesha Daluwatta.

Divers - Gyan Ranatunga (the youngest participant) Dilshan Karunaratne, Harini Jayasekera, Saritha Gunaratne. Manager cum Swimming Coach - Rizvi Zain, Diving Coach M. Fayaz, Delita Fernando - Lady Chaperone.

Spills and Thrills of Foxhill Super Cross

Many a spill and thrill will be the main attraction at the Foxhill Supercross to be staged by the Sri Lanka Racing Drivers and Riders Association at Diyatalawa today, with twenty events to be worked off.

Almost the top riders and drivers will be seen in action with eight events for two wheelers and 12 for four wheelers.

Last year’s fastest at the Foxhill Supercross Shane Gunawardena on his Honda together with his brother Duane and the Wedisinghe brothers - Ananda and Udesh will be the draw cards in the event for Moto-Cross bikes.

Cassim Wahab, Reyaz Farook, Romani de Silva, Omar Lebbe, Malik Zaveer will no doubt have to prove themselves in their faster machines.

Go to the Sports Archive

Home Page

Front Page OP/ED News Business Plus

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to or to