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31st May 1998

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Skilled handling of the ball is the key

By Bernie Wijesekera

It's going to be rugby football at its best at Longden Place today (Sunday May 31) when two unbeaten teams CR&FC and CH&FC will clash in the first-leg of the Carlsberg 'A' Div. tournament. Kick-off at 5 p.m.

Both teams are front runners for this year's blue riband along with defending champions Kandy SC and the Havelocks SC. It's going to be a ding-dong battle by the respective forwards with some leading national players in the fray for their respective teams.

On paper the CH team looks a better side man-to-man. Sunder Niranjan, Nazim Mohamed, Azad Junkeer, Sudath Sampath, the diminutive scrum-half and Sudesh Abeysinghe playing in the pivotal position staging a comeback. G. Raux Nishantha Chanaka and skipper Jude Pillai play the wing. T. Mudu or Paul Ioane will be one of the centres.

In the front-row L. Abeysuriya, S. Vedamanikkam and tough Kenneth de Zilwa will add much weight and power to the pack with Vale Buto Buto.

In the last line Asanga Rodrigo, who played for the 'red shirts' last year is the player to watch with his ability to be an extra man in the line.

The Maitland Crescent Club's drawback will be that they lack a dependable place-kicker to take the spot kicks, where CR is blessed with one of the best in the trade-in Nalaka Weerakkody the fullback, who could be a threat to the CH's aspirations, Nalaka with his dazzling runs, forming the overlap.

CR with their home crowd to support them will take the field with confidence. Todate no team has crossed their line and were able to get the better of Police 60-3, Navy 117-3, Army 35-3 and Air Force 44-0. But the clash against CH will be a tough hurdle to overcome as the visitors possess a strong defence unlike their earlier opponents.

The red shirts, too, are blessed with a pack that has the weight, the skills of their opponents, in Sanitha Fernando, Viraj Prasanna and burly Shantha Rohana in the front-row.

In the second-row they could out-jump their opponents with Duminda de Silva, a Samoan player and Nalin Wijegunawardena, a towering former Thomian as No. 8. The halves combine will be skipper Champika Nishantha and Sajit Mallikaratchie. The line, too has the ability to penetrate the CH defence with sweeping moves where Kishan Musafer, Anura Dhammika, Paul Bennet and Mustaq, joined by Weerakkody to be an extra man in the line.

With both teams evenly matched the team that handles the ball skilfully should have the edge.

The CH beat Petersons 20/15 in a thriller, followed by Army 21/8, Police 23/8 and Air Force 29/7.

Referee: John Bernard

Singer to unearth rural cricket talent

Singer (Sri Lanka) a household name worldwide, which is doing much to uplift and develop 'king cricket' here, is making further inroads to harness hidden talent from the remote rural schools with a sponsorship package among seven deserving schools.

This was revealed at a press briefing held at the Hotel Lanka Oberoi, chaired by its Chairman, Hemaka Amerasuriya.

He was associated by A.P.G.P. Abeysuriya (Marketing Director), Asitha Abeysekera (Marketing Manager), Hashan Tillekeratne, (Public Relations Manager, Singer, Sri Lanka), B.S. Perera (Secretary Sri Lanka Schools C.A.), Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and some members of his W.C. winning team.

Hashan Tillekeratne, the gritty lefthanded batsman, who made an epoch-making 100 in Perth against Australia, playing the role of Public Relations Manager, thanked the Maha Sangha and the audience for giving much strength for this historic occasion, to uplift and improve the skills of the less privileged schools from the remote areas. Two senior officials of the Cricket Board - Nuski Mohamed and Anura Polonowita and Ranjit Fernando, the newly elected cricket manager and former Sri Lanka skipper 'technician' Anura Tennakoon also marked the occasion.

Hemaka Amerasuriya, a man of few words, initially thanked the media for their support in the promotion campaign of 'Winning Team'.

Singer, has been in the forefront in promoting sport in the country, be it cricket, rugby, hockey etc., countrywide. But this project to help seven deserving schools to improve their skills and develop the game in the hinterland is just the start.

It won't stop here. Singer Referigerators will continue with the package, in collaboration with the Schools C.A. hierarchy headed by Warden Neville de Alwis. Unfortunately, he is not with us today, due to a prior commitment.

But the Warden has given his blessings for this laudable project. His committee, is doing a wonderful job to help outstation school cricket, Mr. Amerasuriya added.

Singer, has helped cricket during the last decade.

I am happy that my firm was in the thick, when Sri Lanka team emerged World Cup champions in Lahore and continues to be in the limelight in the international scene with a spirited team effort.

The chairman, commended the presence of the Maha Sangha, through two principals of the President's MMV, Kataragama, Alutwera Sorata Thero and Marukakure Soratha Thero of Polgahawela Central Polgahawela and some of the Sri Lanka cricketers, headed by Arjuna Ranatunga, who were assembled there despite a busy cricket programme which is a source of encouragement for the rural lads, who are in our midst, Amerasuriya added.

Singer, should be commended for spreading its family wings islandwide than confine it to the privileged lot from the Metropolis and its suburbs. The game has a tremendous following in the remote areas.

This is what the former President of the Cricket Board, the late Gamini Dissanayake told this scribe, 'Whenever I travel, far and wide in the country, be it in the paddyfields or in the totems, I see kids playing cricket.

It's amazing to watch the old Trinitian uttered.

Like music sports too have no barriers - sans cast, race or colour. Given the opportunity to the rural kids, one may find a Chanderpaul (a fisherman's son) or Rohan Kanhai, (sugar cane cutter) or Sri Lanka's unskilled worker H. T. Saradial a crafty bowler who played alongside Vernon Prins and late T. B. Werapitiya for the State Services

This is what Singer Refrigerators are striving to do for cricket with this rural project.

Amerasuriya told The Sunday Times, that the next batch will be drawn from schools from Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The Principal of Kavantissa M.V. Ampara, S. V. S. Imbuldeniya, who is also the coach of the school's cricket team and also happens to be district coach has done much spadework to promote the game in the area.

Master-in-charge Kamal de Silva is giving much support.. Cholomondely Priyankara is handling the junior cricket - U-13 and U-15. All were present at this function. Imbuldeniya said the school with limited resources find it very difficult to collect funds for its promotion and to play their matches.

Most of their matches are played out of Ampara, as most schools are reluctant to come to Ampara.

This is a financial burden on us he added. This he mentioned in the presence of Ranjit Fernando a friend of Imbuldeniya.

The awards were presented to the repective schools by the Sri Lanka cricketers, who were presented to the captains-

Nochchiyagama Central, Buddika Prasad -Arjuna Ranatunga, President's MMV Kataragama - Arjuna Ranatunga, Kavantissa M.V - Ampara - A. Ranasinghe - Arvinda de Silva, Pangnananda M. V. Seeduwa - Sanjeewa Arangalla - Marvan Attapattu, Polgahawela Central - Ranga Prasad - Roshan Mahanama , Gankanda MMV -, Pelmadulla - Romesh Kaluwitharane, Sri Jayardenapura M. V. - Hashan Tillekeratne. Mr. B. S. Perera, Secretary Sri Lanka Schools C. A., also spoke.

AAA dragging its feet says Susanthika

By M.H.M. Manasique

Sri Lanka's sprint queen Susanthika Jayasinghe was an angry girl yesterday, feeling that sports officials here were treating her like dirt.

Susanthika who is on temporary suspension for alleged drug abuse was at the offices of the Amatuer Atheletic Association (AAA) of Sri Lanka yesterday hoping that a final inquiry would be held. An official of the AAA had told "The Sunday Times" earlier that a three member committe probing the case would meet yesterday to finalise its report. While thousands of fans and friends of Susanthika waited tensely for the verdict Susanthika said she felt that the case was being dragged on for reasons she did not know.

No body is talking to me, they are not telling me whtat would happen to my career", a distraught Susanthika told "The Sunday Times" yesterday. Earlier in the week a local offfical told "The Sunday Time" that Susanthika would be given only a minimum ban of six months if she is found guilty of drug abuse, but his promise of fair and early action in the matter did not materialize.

Rohan Amarasinhge, Secretary of the AAA said the controlling body would be sympathetic towards Sri Lanka's golden girl who was hoping to rise to the greatest heights at the 2000 Olympics. In April the AAA imposed a temporary suspension on Susanthika after two of her urine samples were reported to contain the banned performance enhancing drug nandralone. Susanthika has challenged the findings, insisting the samples have been tampered with by VIP's trying to ruin her career.

Under regulations of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), the local AAA then appointed a five member committee to probe the matter fully and recommend what action should be taken. The committee comprised AAA President Ari Kannangara, vice president J.C. Kariyawasam, Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Professor Ravindra Fernando and Raja Dep. Both Susanthika and the AAA were represented by lawyers, with well known criminal lawyer Daya Perera appearing for the Champion athlete.

"Later Mr. Kariyawasam and I withdrew from the committee so that the other three members who are not officials of the AAA could take an independent decision", Mr. Kannangara told "The Sunday Times"

After the meeting scheduled for yesterday, which however did not take place, the committe was expected to formally submit its finding to the AAA within a week. Both Mr. Kannangara and Mr. Amarasinghe said they and all others were well aware of Susanthika's extra ordinary potential and would do everything to help her overcome the crisis.

Susanthika has won several Asian gold medals and rose to international fame last year when she won a silver medal in the 200 meters at the World Championships in Athens. She said she was hopeful of winning the first gold medal for Sri Lanka at the Sydney Olympics. But soon after her return from Athens last year she ran into several controversies, including the sensational incident where she charged that a VIP at the Sports Ministry was sexually harassing her. Susanthika believes the latest drug charge is linked to the earlier controversy.

Mr. Kannangara told "The Sunday Times" that while the local AAA wanted to help and not hurt Susanthika. He felt she was "in the wrong hands and that some interested parties were exploiting the situation."

But Mr. Kannnagara' was out of the country yesterday and secretary Amarasinghe not responding to pages messages to find out why the inquiry was not held yesterday.

Sports Ministry Official said they had nothing to do with the decision whether or not to ban Susanthika. It was entirely a matter for the local AAA and the IAAF.

Army guns boom over Police

Army scored a resounding 38 points to 7 win over Police in a Carlsberg Inter-Club rugby match at Havelock Park yesterday. Army led 19-nil at 'lemons'.

Army's points were made up of four goals and two tries to Police's one goal. From the start Army played a grand game of rugby. They simply outplayed the Police in every department of the game.Army's three quarters were the cynosure of all eyes as they punched holes in the Police defence with consummate ease.

Army scored their tries through Fijian Taniela, scrum half Mahes Abeysinghe. Knowlton converted (14-0). The third try was by prop Karunaratne which was unconverted (19-0).

After the break Police scored their solitary try through skipper Damith Jayawardena. Ajantha Rodrigo converted. Army scored again through Taniela and minutes later Fijian Turuwa crashed over for a try and Knowlton converted.Turuwa scored again and Knowlton added the extra points to give Army a 38-7 win.

Referee Aruna Jayasekera.

* Today defending champions Kandy SC take on Petersons at Havelock Park and CH meet CR at Longden Place.

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