21st February 1999
By Saif Izzadeen
With an eye to the future the Sri Lanka under 19 cricketers took wing to India yesterday to play in a series of one Test match and four one-day internationals.
The Sunday Times visited this youth team on the eve of their departure to India as they were practising under the scorching heat at the SSC nets under the watchful eyes of Carlton Bernadus.
The youth cricketers who will be on their way to India will begin the tour with a three-day game at Mumbai on February 22. After which they will get into serious business. The unofficial four-day Test will be played at Mumbai on February 27.
The Sri Lanka youth team is captained by the exciting and dashing right hand batsman from S.Thomas' College, Mt.Lavinia, Upeka Fernando.
Upeka's deputy is Prasanna Jayewardena from St.Sebastian's College Moratuwa. He is the wicketkeeper of the side. This will be Prasanna's fourth tour.
The tour after getting postponed twice, once in December and then again January, finally got the green light thanks to the efforts of the Indian and Sri Lankan Cricket Boards who knew the importance of giving these youngsters of both countries the much needed experience in international cricket.
"The Indian domestic cricket scene and the Pakistan's tour of India after 12 years" were the reasons given by Carlton Bernadus, the coach of the Sri Lanka youth team, for the delayed tour.
The average age of this team is 19. The baby of the side is Thilina Kandambi of Ananda. However although he is the baby of the side this will be his fourth tour.
Speaking to the Sunday Times the coach Carlton Bernadus said of the tour "This is a good opportunity given by the Cricket Board to these youngsters, who will get an insight into what is in store for them in international level. This tour will help them develop their skills to the standard required.
When asked about the venues which has been given to the Sri Lanka youth team to play he said "All the venues which have been given to us are of international standards.
This shows the concern of the Indian Cricket Board in giving this opportunity to the youngsters to play at these venues which will help them to gain the much needed experience.
"Our strength lies in the batting, however, this does not mean that we have ignored the bowling," said Bernadus when asked where the strength lies in this youth team.
He further said our batting line up is very strong. Batsmen like Upeka, Ian, Thilina, Prasanna and Jerome are all capable of making big scores and I am expecting big things from them.
Knowing fully well that India produces slow tracks we have chosen horses for courses and there is lot of variety in our slow bowling department.
"The spin bowling department lies in the hands of Jehan Mubarak (right arm off spinner), Ranil Dammika (left arm leg spinner) and Malinga Bandara (right arm leg spinner )
These three bowlers will have a lot of bowling to do and the wickets in India will suit them. These three bowlers have performed well in the on-going inter school season. Mubarak who is playing for Royal has taken over 30 wickets, Dammika who is turning out for Lumbini has so far fetched over 60 wickets with Malinga Bandara representing NCC , taking over 20 wickets.
"The players who take the maximum use of this tour and catch the eye of the selectors are assured of getting a call up to the national 'A' team or the senior teams", said Bernadus when asked to name the players who will make a mark on this tour.
When asked about the composition of the team Bernadus said:"We have a very experienced side". When asked to elaborate on this he said, "What I mean is we have six players who played together in the under-19 World Cup in South Africa. To name them they are Upeka Fernando, Prasanna Jayewardena, Chamara Silva, Thilina Kandambi, Malinga Bandara and Malintha Gajanayake. All these players are a talented lot and this will hold us in good stead in India.
When Sri Lanka and India met last in a under-19 series in Sri Lanka India completely outplayed Sri Lanka in the Test series which saw them winning the three match series 2-0 However Sri Lanka were able reverse the result in the one-day internationals and won the three match series 2-1."
He said the Indian under 19 team is selected not from the schools but from state sides and we can be assured of having a tough time, however, we are ready to stand up to the challenge and face the music.This was his response when asked what kind of opposition he would come up against India
Finally when we asked Bernadus whether he could taste success on this tour he said with an experienced outfit like this I have reasons to believe that we will have a triumphant return home.
"The team's fitness level is at the peak all the boys are shaping up well. The main thing is that all the players are fighting fit which is a good sign," said Lal Tamel who will be going as the physiotherapist on this tour.
"The reason we are practising from one to four in the afternoon is to get used to the heat because at this time of the year in India it is hot and humid and when we go there we don't like to see our players at the receiving end said Tamel when asked what was the reason behind Sri Lanka practising in the afternoon
"We got all the players from early January to attend practice I gave them one hour of physical training and 45 minutes in the pool which has shaped up the boys well".
Tamel finally thanked the physiotherapist of the Sri Lanka national team Alex Kontouri who before he went to Australia gave me the breakdown of what do which helped me a lot.
"This is a good opportunity for younger players," said Upeka Fernando When asked what he thinks of the tour. "We have a blend of both youth and experience which will be to our advantage," said Upeka of what he thinks of the composition of the team.
When Upeka was asked what kind of wickets he could expect in India he said "The wickets in India will be slow turners and we have chosen the bowlers who will fit in.
Upeka finally said he is very confident of having a very successful tour.
1) Upeka Fernando - (S.Thomas' Mt.Lavinia/SSC) - Captain
2) Prasanna Jayewardena - (St.Sebastian's Moratuwa) - vice captain
3) Jehan Mubarak - (Royal College)
4) Thilina Kandambi - (Ananda college)
5) Jerome Fernando (St.Peter's College)
6) Nalin Wijesinghe (St.Sebastian's)
7) Pubudu Seneviratne (Dharmaraja)
8) Ian Daniels (St.Joseph's)
9) Duminda Perera (D.S.Senanayake/Bloomfield)
10) Ruwan Sujeewa de Silva(Kalutara Vidyalaya/Kalutara Town club)
11) Kaburugamuwa Gamarachige Sathpath Kalum (Rahula Matara/Matara SC)
12) Malinga Bandara - (Kalutara Vidyalaya/NCC)
13) Prabath Nissanka (S.Thomas' Matara/Matara SC)
14) Malintha Gajanayake(D.S.Senanayake College)
15) Ranil Dammika(Lumbini College)
16) - Chamara Silva(Royal Panadura/Panadura SC)
Cheerio Sergeant today
Who is best?
At last a bright star is recognized; the best cavalier of the Calypso Cavaliers of an emerald island called Sri Lanka has captured the top spot i.e., in the world rankings by Wisden Cricket Monthly Sanath Jayasuriya has got the top billing, replacing Steve Waugh from his pedestal as No. 1 and by comparison Steve is only a 'grafter' but Sanath is a superb "timer" of great beauty - a feast for the eyes of all cricket lovers the world over. One has only to see his wizardry to watch a 'ballerina of beauty and grace' without compare. Now who are the unofficial cricket champions of the world? Australia has claimed that honour and well they may after the pathetic and dissident surrender of the originators of cricket, lovely cricket - the successors of that eminent archdeacon, Dr. W.G. Grace. But can this question be settled by individual tour results ? Till a different system of deciding this question is devised Australia may well maintain their theoretical supremacy, although both Pakistan and West Indies have not done too badly in their last visit Down Under and Sri Lanka have broken records over records in the recent unfinished Indian tour of that 'pearl of the Indian ocean'. Whence are Tendulkar and Lara? It looks the cricket firmament changes ever so often in the present times unlike the era of Sir Donald Bradman, who ruled the roost so consistently and for so long; that was the golden era of this wonderful game of fantasy. The flashes of the cricket blade of that institution that was Sir Bradman looks ever so different to the flashes of Sanath Jayasuriya - one, a flash of lightning and the other flashes of the lighthouse tower -S. Srie. P - Canberra
He settled in Australia, which must be the equivalent at Paul Tibbets building his home in Hiroshima. It is a great wonder the people down under learnt to love him. This was a triumph of humanity as much as it was of cricket proving that it is more than just a sport, actually a metaphor of life itself.
Harold Larwood was one of two or three principal characters in cricket's greatest human drama. The Bard of Avon would so easily have dramatised such a scenario into a classic. The fast bowler who emerged from the Nottinghamshire coal pit town of Nancargate, the self-effacing man who was uneasy in the spotlight, being at the very centre of a row that threatened to split cricket.
Opposed to him in this bitter conflict was the unbowlable Don Bradman, the ultimate run machine. He must be termed the other principal character. In reality there was a third character in the sharpest of cricket conflicts. Douglas Jardine, the England skipper, he of the upper classes who had only contempt for the Aussies whom he once described as the "working class who got away".
Larwood was only Douglas Jardine's instrument. He used him to batter the Australians into submission to that extent. There was no conflict with Larwood's shy nature and his desire to stay away from the spotlight. Jardine the skipper, plotted the campaign to the last detail, with some original help from F.R. Foster and Percy Fender, and his men, principally Larwood, carried it out. It is easy to see the social structure of the era and how it would have helped Jardine run such a campaign in those days. The professional cricketers were the real working class men of England. They could be commanded to do the captain's bidding. Larwood saw himself as just that - a cog in the wheel. It was unfortunate then that England later rejected Larwood. He was the expendable commodity the upper crust of the cricket establishment filled with men from the ruling class had the power to make a scapegoat. Larwood was their choice. A pity this, because Larwood was far greater as a bowler than history made him out to be.
They honoured him with an MBE only in 1993 a clear 60 years after his historic feat in the 'bodyline' series. And that too owing to the persuasive skills of the British Prime Minister John Major to right an historic wrong. Bodyline may have been the game's most nasty strategy but why blame the instrument who merely carried out orders and carried them out brilliantly. In his last Test appearance, which was in the final Test of the famous 'bodyline' series, Larwood not only took five wickets in England's eight wicket win but also scored 98. He had come in as night watchman to make what was a record score for a batsman defined thus and his record stood for 45 years until Tony Nann scored a century against India.
And he did not play again. Now this would be scandalous had it happened to a modern cricketer. The establishment, under pressure after a series which led to the game's biggest diplomatic row axed the workman rather than the skipper Jardine. The war of telegrams had had its effects on the MCC. Someone had to be sacrificed. Who else but the miner from the coal pits of Nottinghamshire.
It was at a time of such rancour that the batsman who took much physical punishment from Larwood while he operated what he preferred to call the "Leg Theory" rather than 'bodyline' (actually a term coined by a journalist reporting the series) who invited Larwood to come and live in Australia.
It must have sounded a preposterous suggestion then. But Larwood who did not enjoy his life in Blackpool where he was running a general store migrated to Australia. Sydney may not have been quite the seductively hedonistic city it is today, it was the business capital of Australia which was far removed from the world driven by the greater human conflict which came to be known as World War II. Larwood moved there with his five daughters melting into a more egalitarian society and one which held no rancour.
It took England a long time to recognise Larwood for the greatness of his bowling. He was the quickest bowler of his time and more importantly, was to become so accurate in his line of attack that he alone could have been the heart of the "bodyline" compaign.
Suffice if to say that he made the run machine called Don Bradman look somewhat human with all known frailties of mankind, a happening which some critics perversely welcomed because they thought there was now a soul in Bradman's batting. Very few bowlers in history could claim such an achievement.
I must borrow the words of the historians to bring out the beauty of Larwood's bowling. The David Puttnam television film did give us an insight into the drama of the conflict as much as it did a view of Larwood's bowling action. The conversion of films of Larwood's bowling from the ancient 16 mm format to the video format had to speed up the action so much that it looks quite artificial. It is impossible to judge from video what sort of a pace bowler Larwood was. Quite apart from the fact that he overpowered the greatest batting force ever known in the history of the game - Don Bradman the boy from Bowral.
"Perfection is dangerous in any walk of life. And when you get perfection set against you, you either give up or seek means, of no matter what kind, to overthrow it."
The greatness of Larwood lay in his ability to think of a way to overthrow such a force. Back to the words of historians to describe his bowling - as Ian Peebles wrote "he ran about 18 yards, accelerating with controlled, rhythmical strides. On the last of which his shoulders open with a long swing of his fully extended arms.
His right hand described a great arc starting from near the calf of his leg and at full pressure his knuckles would touch the pitch on his follow through. Co-ordination was perfect so that the whole concerted effort was applied the moment of delivery there was the model action, which not only generated abnormal pace but also gave a measure of control and accuracy unsurpassed by any bowler of this type".
It was also noted that he banged his feet down so hard on the hard Australian pitches in the "bodyline" series that he was to suffer injuries from which he never recovered. Allen and Bowes could quite create the effect Larwood did with his combination of leg theory bowled at disconcerting pace and the lightening quick yorker to the base of the stumps.
Bradman who did not play the first Test was bowled by Bowes off the first ball at the second Test which he tried to hook. He made 103 not out in the 2nd innings to bring the home side its only triumph in the series. He was never to attain such glory again. Soon 'bodyline' controversy was at its crest as Bill Woodfull was twice hit by bouncers and Bertie Oldfield deflected a ball from Larwood onto his face in the third Test. The most famous, and most sorrowful words of the series were spoken by the Australian skipper, Woodfull, who while lying on the treatment table in the dressing room said, "There are two sides out there and only one is playing cricket".
Larwood lived close half his 90 years in Sydney, happy to be away from the public eye content to be the quiet family man he always wanted to be.
(By arrangement with the 'The Cricketer')
Indeed, fielding is an important a department as batting and bowling and it is an art. Yet few players care to master it. But those who have mastered this art, are considered immortals in cricket.
Jonty Rhodes is perhaps the only cricketer in present day cricket, who could win his place in a Test side by virtue of fielding alone and what a fielder he is. His fielding will ever be remembered by those who have watched his quick reflexes and nimble movements in the point region. His uncanny anticipation, quicksilver forward march on the ball, phenomenally accurate throws take one's breath away and creates confusion amongst the opposing batsmen.
Not very strong, not very tall, Jonty Rhodes is wiry and moves on twinkling feet, his smart pick-up on the run, and lightning throws leaving the batsmen stranded at the wrong end and falling easy victims.
He is a crowd-puller as a fielder and as a batsman too. A right handed forcing batsman Rhodes may not be considered orthodox, as he has a penchant for lifting the ball. He is in a class by himself.
Apart from Jonty Rhodes, Mark Taylor, the ever alert and eagle-eyed fielder has the safest pair of hands in the first slip position; he gobbles up anything that comes his way. The combination of Shane Warne and Mark Taylor has seen the back of many a batsman. Indeed, an unerring catcher and a smart fielder act as multi-vitamin tablets, inspiring confidence of the bowlers and sharpening their attacks.
The modern technique of sliding has added a sharp edge to fielding and is both electrifying and effective. If the fielder is supremely fit, he chases the ball right upto the boundary line and kneeling on one knee, and stretching the other leg, slides and fields the ball inches inside the line. This is of course possible only on emerald green turf and not on hard, rough surfaces.
The Indians also have learnt the new methods and fielders like Ajay Jadeja have become adapt. It is heartening to see that the sliding fever has caught up with the youngest to the oldest players in the side.
It is a joy to watch Azharuddin making impossible stops, and bringing off acrobatic catches. Azhar's fielding is worth 30 to 40 runs to his side and at 36, he is still, the best in the Indian team.
Happily, it is now an universally accepted fact that if one has to retain his place in the side, his fielding must be top class, which is why players endeavour their best to keep themselves 100 percent fit and improve their fielding in a professional way. As a consequence, the general standard of fielding today has radically improved in international cricket, as compared to the bygone days.
The Sri Lankans have also raised their level of fielding through constant practice and training, under the watchful eyes of experts from overseas. Even bowlers like Muralitharan have held astounding catches. Another man in the team to watch is Roshan Mahanama, he is the only Sri Lankan fielder who can field at any position like Jonty Rhodes in the playing area. He has taken some spectacular and unforgettable catches to dismiss some great batsmen the world has seen.
Even famous bowlers like Allan Donald and Paul Adams spare no efforts in fielding, for they know that mere excellence in bowling will not take them any further. So they run fast, quickly bend, smartly pick up and instantaneously throw the ball right into the gloves of the wicket-keeper.
Having watched, from close quarters, the practice sessions of South Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, one is not surprised why their standard is so high and enviable.
- Ramesh Joseph
The Minister of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports S.B. Dissanayake will declare open the newly constructed Vijaya Kumaratunga Playgrounds today at Keravalapitiya, Wattala.
This playground was constructed during a short period of four months under the direction of Neil Rupasinghe Gampaha District MP, Keravalapitiya Muditha Sports Club and with the assistance of the Land Reclamation Development Board and the Colombo Municipal Council.To mark this occasion several sports events have been organised including a Gampaha District open road race and a standard cycle race. Entries for these two events will be accepted until 7.00 a.m. on February 21.
In addition there will be a 30 overs elle match between the Keravalapitiya
Combined team and the Hendala Combined team at 10.00 a.m. An exhibition
elle match between the Vayamba Combined team and Muditha Sports Club, Keravalapitiya
at 11.00 a.m., an exhibition women's volleyball match between the Sri Lanka
Ports Authority and the Sri Lanka Air Force team at 3.00 p.m.
Union Assurance win
Union Assurance beat Combined Brokers by 4 wickets in their Insurance Companies six-a-side final played at the BRC grounds Havelock Park.
Last year Union Assurance finished joint champs with Janashakthi.
Combined Brokers scored 88 for 1 in overs. Union Assurance replied with 91 for 1 in 4 overs.
Fei Quan Do at Minhal
Minhal International Scool at Wellawatte has included Fei Quan Do Martial arts classes for the benefit of their students as an extra curricular activity, under the patronage of their Principal Mr. Javid Yoosuf Attorney-at-law, former Ambassodor to Saudi Arabia.
Grandmaster M. Hassen Khalid the founder Chief Instructor of Fei Quan Do International is in charge of the training.
Grandmaster M. Hassen Khalid and senior members of the Fei Quan Do International staged an exhibition of self-defence for the students and parents of Minhal Internationl School at the inaguration of the classes.
Swimming is also a sport introduced at the school.
The Sri Lanka Kabaddi Federation will select national coaches for senior men and women and junior men and women.
The Federation will also pick assistant national coaches for both senior and junior (men and women).
Applications will close with M.T.Fernando, Secretary, Sri Lanka Kabaddi Federation at No 502/11, Halbarawa Estate, Thalahena, Malabe on or before February 25.
Netball coaches needed
The Netball Federation of Sri Lanka is calling for applications from suitable coaches for the selection of the National Junior Coach and coaches for the development squads for 1999.
Applications should be sent under registered cover to the General Secretary, Netball Federation of Sri Lanka, No. 7A, Reid Avenue, Clombo 7 on or before February 28.
Cycle race today
To commemorate the 51st Independence of the Republic of Sri Lanka and to mark the opening of Pan Asia Bank, Ratnapura Branch, a cycle race organised by the Ministry of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports will be held today Sunday February 21.
This cycle race will be sponsored by Pan Asia Bank and be held from Vihara Maha Devi Park to Ratnapura.
Cycle race at Anuradhapura
The 9th annual cycle race conducted by the Rajarata Cycling Association and sponsored by Singer will be held on March 27 at Anuradhapura.
The distance will be 100 miles for men starting opposite the Auradhapura Market in front of the Singer Showroom and will proceed via Talawa, Thambuttegama, Bulnewa, Galnewa, Kalawewa, Kekirawa, Maradankadawala and Mihintale finishing at the Anuradhapura Town.
The women's race too will be held on March 27 starting opposite the Anuradhapura Market through Mihintale, Rajarata campus and back on the same route.
Prizes will be given to the first ten in the men's race and the first five in the women's race.
Entries could be handed over at the Singer Showroom in Anuradhapura, the Sports Officer Anuradhapura or to Indrapala de Silva, organiser Rajarata Cycle Race or the District Sports Office in Anuradhapura or on Telephone 02535499 - (Nochiyagama Corr.S.Samarasinghe).
Lanka's bridge players third
The Sri Lanka men's team finished a joint third with India in the SAARC open bridge championships councluded in Dhaka.
In all, 12 teams participated, four each from India and Bangladesh two from Pakistan and one each from Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Pakistan A emerged as champions with the India C team as runner- up.
In the ladies' event five teams participated with Sri Lanka finishing in 4th place with India and Pakistan finishing as champions and runner-up respectively.
Th Sri Lanka Youth team is presently participating in the World Youth Championships in Cairo.
The Sri Lanka team is represented by Nirosh de Silva, Asanka Amarasinghe, Chintika Withigala, K. Nirandar Kumar, M.H.N. Rashan Haniffa and Eranga Wijewickrema. D.P. Seenaweera is the non-playing captain with V.C. Fernando as Manager. Meanwhile the annual contract bridge individual event sponsored by Boomlak Enterprises will be held on Sunday February 21 at the Bridge Federation Headquarters at Reid Avenue commencing at 9.15 p.m.
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