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28th February 1999

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Those dangerous seam bowlers

This is the most common type of bowling for several reasons. The apprenticeship required to become a reasonable performer is easier, shorter and less demanding than for the other bowling style. Seam bowlers are ideally suited for the role of stock bowler, which every team needs. On helpful pitches they can, provided they are able to maintain a reasonable line and length, be match winners. Their value has been greatly increased by the amount of limited overs cricket, where containment is the most important factor.

England has always been the natural habitat for the seamer because the pitches are more sympathetic to this breed than in the other Test-playing countries. It is, therefore, not surprising that since the war we have produced more good, honest seamers than anywere else. The marked deterioration of pitches on the country circuit, which began in the 1950s, increased their number and their importance because they won so many matches. Pitches improved in the '80 and 90s' and were also covered, so that the seamers were less successful in their haul of victims and their cost, but most teams still fielded four.

To be really successful in first class cricket a medium-fast bowler has to be able to get something from a plumb pitch, not just a helpful one. Last year there were nearly 30 seamers, including several bits-and-pieces cricketers, who had England caps but the majority had been cast aside after a few appearances, many after only one because they lacked the penetration required to become wicket-takers at the highest level on easy pitches.

Three of the greatest in the past 100 years - Sydney Barnes, Maurice Tate and Alec Bedser had this ability. All possessed superb control and sufficient pace to jar the batsman's bottom hand. Their skills included swerve, the nip-backer, the leg cutter, change of pace. the swinging yorker, and creating different angles by varying their point of delivery.

The nip-backer is a quick off-break, achieved by cutting the finger down the side of the ball rather than spinning it. When it fails to grip, it will tend to leave the bat, the leg-cutter is far more difficult to bowl, especially if the natural swerve is away from the bat. It should not be confused as it frequently is by television commentators with a ball which happens to hit the right part of the seam and moves from leg to off on pitching.

Although a change of pace, including a cleverly concealed slower ball, has always been a useful weapon in the seamers armoury limited-overs cricket has greatly increased its worth. This also applies to the swinging yorker, especially one that dips in late and removes the leg stump, which accounts for there being more bowlers who possess a good slower bowler like Dermott Reeve or yorker like Darren Gough, in the 90's than in the '50s. But judging by England's bowling in the same period this cannot be said to apply to the fundamental of this type of attack, absolute control of line and length. For about 20 years, following the war, the most desirable opening county attack would consist of an out-swing and in-swing bowler, one operating with support from a clutch of slips and the other with a gaggle of short legs. It provided contrast and no argument over ends. Gladwin and Jackson (Derbyshire) and Flavell and Coldwell (Worcestershire) were names that tripped easily off the tongue.

There were halcyon days for the inswinger whose effectiveness was soon to be reduced by a change in the law which forbade a bowler having more than two fielders behind the bat on the leg side. This was introduced to lessen the effectiveness of negative bowling down the leg side but sadly it also penalized in-swing and off-spin bowlers because when they were attacking they required at least three behind the bat. This forced on out-standing in-swing bowler like Max Walker to employ a much wider point of attack than for example the line used by Cliff Gladwin. In the 50s and '60s seamers benefited from uncovered and helpful pitches but they also suffered from two disadvantages. Both the seam and the shine except after heavy rain, disappeared far more quickly than has been the case in the past 25 years, especially overseas. This is due to the enormous improvement in outfields, which are now thickly carpeted with lush grass, the result of artificial fertilisers. I suspect this is also the reason why reverse-swing is (unlike, for example, picking the seam) a fairly new innovation as before the '70s the ball would have been too rough on both sides. In addition it is presumably easier to make the scuffed side heavier when a 12th man is continually walking round the boundary with a jug of water for the bowlers. England has produced more honest seamers since 1946 than anywhere else, and standing head and shoulders above them all, both metaphorically and physically was Alec Bedser. Because of those wasted war years Alec did not reach his peak until his late 20's when for about six years his bowling on all types of pitches and in all types of conditions was as near perfect as I have ever seen. I doubt if anybody was better placed to appreciate his ability more, as before the arrival of Trueman, Statham, Tyson and Loader, I not only shared the new ball for England with Alec but also fielded to him at the other end in the slips, leg-slips or gully. It was rather akin to me with my happy 28-handicap finding myself in a fearsome foursome partnering a scratch golfer.

Despite his classical, side ways - on action, Alec's natural swing was into the bat at a pace which would have had any wicket keeper these days standing well back. However, Alec wanted him standing up as he believed that it both increased his own accuracy and restricted the batsman's movement and these two factors compensated for the occasional chance which might have gone astray. He was fortunate to have two great men behind the timbers, Godfrey Evans for England and Arthur McIntyne for Surrey. The hallmark of Alec's bowling was his leg cutter. Because of the exceptional size of his hands and the strength of his fingers he came close to spinning the ball and could break it even on a plumb pitch while on a wet or crumbling pitch it would regularly dip in late, pitch leg and finish hitting or going over the top of the off stump. On the county circuit I faced many excellent seam bowlers, including Derek Shackleton and Tom Cartwright in the medium-fast category but the fast-medium seamer who impressed me most was Les Jackson. It is true. I always batted against him in either Derbyshire or Essex, where the wickets normally gave seamers some assistance. Which explains why both counties have produced so many good ones, but it remains a mystery why he was given so few opportunities for England, I reckon that Geoff Arnold was the best away-swing bowler of his generation and that Ken Higgs was underrated.

In the past 30 years, Ian Botham was easily the most accomplished English seamer at Test level, as is underlined by his rich haul of 247 victims in only 57 Tests. This was largely due to his being essentially an attacking bowler who appreciated the value of a swinging half-volley. In contrast, the splendid and far meaner Mike Hendrick never took five wickets in an innings in his 30 Tests and was an ideal third seamer who was very effective in limited over cricket.

Terry AldermanThe Essex tradition of finding above average new-ball bowlers continued, with Barry Knight in the '60s, the tireless Tolan Leaver in the '70s. Neil Foster who would probably have established himself as the strike bowler England have lacked since the retirement of Ian Botham and Bob Willis if he had not suffered so many injuries and spent so much time in hospital, and Mark Ilott in the '90s. There are hopes that Dominic Cork and Darren Gough will supply this need at international level providing they can find more consistency and avoid what appears to me to be the major problem these days, the injury syndrome. Because they have to work harder for their wickets in Australia their seamers tend to acquire a larger skill vocabulary and once they have adjusted their length to English conditions they are often more effective and love bowling in England. The two finest Aussie seamer I batted against were both left-handers - Bill Johnston and from the mid 50s when he began to swing the ball into the right handed batsman from on and just outside the off stump, Alan Davidson. When in the commentary or the press box, as a former practitioner, I naturally enjoyed and appreciated the purveyors of seam more than most. I have especially liked watching Australian seam bowling because their overall standard has been so high. It is therefore difficult for me to select what I feel to have been their finest exponents in the last 30 years and has to be based on what I have seen from the boundary in England, Australia and the Caribbean. However there is no doubt that the four I would choose - Max Walker, Neil Hawke, Bob Massie, Terry Alderman, were all exceptional Test seamers. Walker and Hawke had much in common as both were natural in-swing bowlers with high, rather ugly actions which helped them to cut the ball back from the leg. Both were outstanding competitors. The 26 wickets Max took in the 1972/73 West Indian tour after Dennis Lillee had been injured just about tips the scale in his favour. They were also delightful individuals liked and respected by all who knew them.

Massie captured 16 wickets on his debut at Lord's with the most devastating exhibition of swing I have ever witnessed, but within 12 months had lost the magic, swerve and was unable to retain his place in his state side. I would give pride of place as the best Aussie seam bowler after Alan Davidson to Terry Alderman. He had a glorious sideways on-action, complete with a nutural late-swing , an ideal model for any young seamer. He combined the ability of swing with movement off the seam, capturing 170 wickets in his 41 Tests and his haul would have been considerably higher if the Australian selectors had recognised his great talent earlier and if he had hot suffered so many injuries. The entirely predictable success he achieved in county cricket for Kent and Gloucester simply underlined that he was over a long period of time the perfect seamer and an absolute joy to see in action.

Kapil Dev
India's greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev, was also their finest seam and swing bowler, who took a record breaking 434 wickets in 131 Tests with a classic action which assisted his late outswing. My choice as Pakistan's best medium fast bowler as distinct from a pace bowler must be Fazal Mohmoud, who after Alec Bedser probably had the finest leg cutter, especially on the mat. He captured 139 wickets in his 34 appearances for his country in an era when there were far fewer Tests, while he was also handicapped of the support at the other end.

By arrangement with The Cricketer
By N.T.Kumarasinghe

Tillekeratne's 119: Pick of the week

By Saif Izzadeen

Sri Lanka's leading cricket playing clubs Tamil Union, Bloomfield, Colts and NCC recorded victories from the eight Premier inter-clubs matches played over the last weekend.

NCC and Colts recorded innings victories while Bloomfield and Tamil Union scored wins by 10 and eight wickets respectively. All this victories were achieved in convincing style.

The clubs who had to suffer defeats from this side were Panadura SC, Kurunegala YCC, Wattala Antonian SC and Police SC. Panadura SC and Kurunegala YCC had the humiliation of losing by an innings.

From the four victories NCC helped by a good knock of 119 not out by Hashan Tillekeratne scored an innings and 84 runs win over Police SC.

Police SC taking first lease of the wicket were skittled out for 93 in the face of good left arm pace bowling by former Sri Lanka cap Sajeewa de Silva.

NCC in reply batted Police SC out of the game by amassing 401 for 6 dec thanks to well compiled knock of 119 by Hashan Tillekeratne. He was given good support by former Dharmapala right hander Chinthaka Jayasinghe who made 86.

Poilce SC batting a second time with a massive deficit of 308 runs once again ran into good left arm bowling by Sajeewa de Silva who followed his first innings four wickets with a another 4 wickets and bowled out Police for 224 thus giving the Maitland Place club a convincing innings and 84 runs victory.

A solid knock of 56 by Bateesha de Silva and some good bowling by Priyankara Wickremasinghe(5 for 31) and R.Weerasinghe (5 for 41) helped Bloomfield to record a morale boosting 10 wickets win over Kurunegala Youth Cricket Club at Reid Avenue.

The Kurunegala club batting first were bowled out for 167 thanks to some wily spin bowling by Priyankara Wickeremasinghe who ran through the batting line up to capture five wickets giving away 31 runs.

Bloomfield in reply made 274 due to a well compiled 56 by former right hander from D.S.Senanayake Bateesha De Silva.

Kurunegala batting a second time with 107 runs behind were bowled out for 126 in the face of good bowling by R.Weerasinghe who took 5 for 41.This left Bloomfield with a victory target of 19 runs which they knocked off without losing a wicket.

Sri Lanka's left hand batsman Hashan Tillekeratne with a sizzling unbeaten knock of 119 for NCC against Police SC took away the batting honours.

S. Rajapaske with a penetrative bowling spell of 5 for 28 for BRC against Singha SC Ambalangoda took this week's bowling. honours.


Panadura SC - 139 and 182 lost to Tamil Union - 248 and 74 for 2 by 8 wickets. Kurunegala YCC - 167 and 126 lost to Bloomfield - 274 and 19 for no loss by 10 wickets.

Moors SC - 240 for 9 dec and 246 for 3 dec vs Matara SC - 197 and 98 for 9 - draw. Galle CC - 195 and 171 for 3 vs SSC - 201 - draw.

Antonian SC - 216 and 81 lost to Colts - 314 by an innings and 17 runs. Singha SC - 274 and 131 vs BRC - 150 and 135 for 5 - draw.

Sebastianites - 265 and 175 vs CCC - 199 and 47 for 1 - draw. Police SC - 93 and 224 lost to NCC - 401 for 6 by an innings and 84 runs.

Club cricket honours

Batting(over 50 runs)

119* - H. Tillekeratne (NCC) vs Police SC
117* - C.Haturusinghe( Moors SC) vs Matara Sc
101 - S.Fernando(Colts) vs Antonian SC
94 - T.Dilshan (Sebastianites) vs CCC
91 - D.Arnolda(CCC) vs Sebastianites
86 - C.Jayasinghe(NCC) vs Police SC
75 - S.Silva ( Sebastianites) vs CCC
68 - P.Wanasinghe (Galle CC) vs SSC
63 - B.Perera(Colts) vs Antonian SC
59 - P.Salgado(Moors SC) vs Matara SC
58* - P.Wanasinghe (Galle CC) vs SSC
58 - M.Kudakodage (Police SC) vs NCC
57 - B.Ekanayake (Antonian SC) vs Colts
56 - (Bloomfield) vs Kurunegala YCC
56 - J.Kumudu(Singha SC) vs BRC
55 - R.Arnold(NCC) vs Police SC
55 - U.Chandana(Tamil Union) vs Panadura SC
52 - vs Police SC
51* - D.Perera (BRC) vs Singha SC
51* - (Moors SC) vs Matara SC
51 - A.Hettiarachchi (Antonian SC) vs Colts
51 - A.Wewelwala(Singha SC) vs BRC
51 - B.Perera (Panadura SC) vs Tamil Union

*Denotes not out

Bowling(over 50 runs)

5 for 28 - S.Rajapaske (BRC) vs Singha SC
5 for 31 - P.Wickremasinghe (Bloomfield) vs Kurunegala YCC
5 for 30 - I.Amarasinghe ( Colts) vs Antonian SC
5 for 41 - R.Herath (Moors SC) vs Matara SC
5 for 41 - R.Weerasinghe (Bloomfield) vs Kurunegala YCC
5 for 61 - D.Fernando (Sebastianites) vs CCC
5 for 69 - R.Amunugama( Kurunegala YCC) vs Bloomfield
4 for 15 - vs Police SC
4 for 20 - S.Sanjeeva(Singha SC) vs BRC
4 for 30 - T.Samaratunga (Colts) vs Antonian SC
4 for 46 - S.Perera (SSC) vs Galle CC
4 for 47 - (NCC) vs Police SC
4 for 51 - U.Chandana (Tamil Union) vs Panadura SC
4 for 60 - M.Villavarayan (Tamil Union) vs Panadura SC
4 for 62 - U.Chandana (Tamil Union) vs Panadura SC
4 for 68 - P.Jayesekera (Matara SC) vs Moors SC

Piyadasa as President

The following office-bearers were elected at the annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Schools Hockey Federation held at S. Thomas College Gymnasium on February 14.

President: Mr. L. Piyadasa, Principal, Sri Sumana Vidyalaya, Badulla (Elected un-contested) Senior vice-President: Mrs. H.K. Wijetunge Principal, St. Anthony's Girls' College, Kandy. (Elected un-contested)

Hony. Secretary: Mr. Daniel Edirisinghe, Head Master, S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia (re-elected uncontested) Asst. Secretary: Shiromantha Wijesinghe, Prefect of Games, Badulla MMV. Badulla (re-elected).

Old Royalists, Old Antonians are champs at Golden Oldies tournament

Old Royalists and Old Antonians were declared joint champions in the Old Wesleyites Sports Club Golden Oldies six-a-side tournament sponsored by Singers Sri Lanka Limited played at Campbell Park.

The two teams were declared joint champions in the 125th Anniversary celebrations of Wesley College due to heavy rain.

In the consolation final conducted for the first time in a tournament of this nature Old Wesleyites beat Old Thomians.

T.M.S. Saldin of the Old Royalists was picked as the Man of the Tournament while Hemantha Devapriya carried away the best batsman's award.


Old Nalandians beat Old Wesleyites by 31 runs. Old Nalandians 73 for 2 in 5 overs (Hemantha Devapriya 32)

Old Wesleyites 42 for 3 in 5 overs.

Old Richmondites 76 for 2 in 5 overs (Nishanda Mendis 17 not out).

Old Bens 61 for 1 in 5 overs (N. Fernando 25 not out, Daya Sirisena 24 not out).

Quarter finals: St. Anthony's beat St. Peter's/Nalanda by 5 wickets; Old Peterites/Old Nalandian 52 for 2 in 5 overs (Hemantha Devapriya 31, Charlie Goonasena 10, C.P.P. Raj 2 for 8).

Old Anthonians 61 for no loss in 5 overs (Gamini Debapuwa 29 not out, C.P.P. Raj 26 not out).

Old Royalists beat Old Richmondites by 15 runs.

Old Royalists 77 for no loss in 5 overs (T.M.S. Saldin 47 not out, Ajith Peiris 18 not out).

Old Richmondites 62 for 2 in 5 overs (Nisanka Mendis 14 not out, Danesh Perera 33).

Consolation final:

Old Wesleyites beat old Thomians by 4 wickets.

Old Thomians 85 for 1 in 5 overs (Rajeev Wijetunga 26, Mohan Jayasekera 30 not out, Sriyantha Rajapaksa 25 not out).

Old Wesleyites 86 for 1 in 5 overs (Granville Hamer 21 not out, Siri Dias 20 not out).


Sea swim on March 7

Over 300 swimmers will take the splash at the 62nd Two Mile Sea Swim conducted by the National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union of Sri Lanka at Mount Lavinia on Sunday March 7 starting at 7 a.m.

All national poolists in training for the South Asian Federation Games (SAF) will treat this as a warm-up swim. The contenders for the women's title will be Sri Lanka's swimming captain Natasha Kodituwakku while Marlon S. DeLano, making a welcome return after his exams, will be challenged by Sean Lee, the two long distance swimmers.

Ten new schools join the scrum

Ten new schools have joined the scrum in the Western Province Rugby Section with over 600 students participating in a coaching camp held at Sri Ratnapala MV grounds at Wattala. This rugby coaching camp followed by a tournament has been organised by Iqbal Hasan, President Western Province, supported by Basio Rodrigo, the rugby co-ordinator and N.J. Mudannayake, the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association.

The coaches at the camp will be Ranga Seneviratne, Shane Dullewa and Marc de Silva.

The ten new schools joining the scrum are: Sri Rathanapala MV, Srimath Baron Jayatilleka MV Maligawatta, Kotahena Central, Vijaya Vidyalaya Peliyagoda, Gurukula MV Kelaniya, Dharmaloka MV Kelaniya, Harischandra Negombo, Christ King College Hekitta, T.B. Jayah MV Slave Island and De La Saal Mutwal.

Nirmal to captain

Nirmal Hettiarachchi will captain the Old Royalists over 40 team in their limited overs match against the Old Thomians on Monday (Poya Day) March 1 at the CCC grounds at Maitland Crescent.

This match will be played for the Stallion Trophy.

The final XI of the Old Royalists will be picked from the following: Nirmal Hettiarachchi, Ajith Pasqual, Jagath Pattiaratchi, Prasanna Kariyawasam, Anura de Alwis, Lionel Gunasekera, T.M.S.. Saldin, Ashok Jayawickrema, Ajith Peiris, Rajira Wijetunga, Arundathi Dias, M.N. Perera, Bandula Dissanayake.

Yachting today

Today (February 28) the Intercontinental Cup sailing event will be held at the Ceylon Motor Yacht at Indibedde, Moratumulla.

This annual event is a fleet race for both classes of GP14 and Enterprises. 15-20 Boats are expected to take part and the helm in the first race must crew in the 2nd race. Both races will be sailed in the morning and sail-off will be at 11 am.

In the fleet you will see the Asian Games yachting medalists Lalin Jirasinghe and Janaka (Navy), but sailing rules at this event prevent the champions from sailing together and therefore each will team up with other club members of CMYC and the Navy Sailing Club. The defending champions in this event are Jeremy Bolling and Reshan Muthukrishna. This team will also participate in this year's event. An optimist race for children below 15 years has also been organised by the optimist convenor, Jeanine Van Krimpen. Ten children are expected to take part in this event which they sail single handed.

The General Manager, Hotel Ceylon Intercontinental, Lal Leanage will be the Chief Guest at this race and will give away the awards.

Air Force sportsmen get-together

The 33rd Course Sportsmen's get-together of the Sri Lanka Air Force is scheduled to be held shortly.

In order to organise this event, all addresses and personal data of the officers and airmen attached to the 33rd Recruit Course 1969 are required. Those concerned are requested to send their details to the Convenor,1486/3, Hokandara Road, Pannipitiya.

Underwood to lead Kent XI

Veteran cricketers from Kent, England will take on the veterans of Kalutara Town Club in a one day game at the Kalutara Esplanade on March 5. The match will commence at 9 a.m. The former England cricketer Derek Underwood will captain the Kent Veterans while Kalutara TC will be led by Dennis Zilva.

Kalutara Town Club is 110 years old and they were the Division One Inter Club champions in 1938.

- By H.P.P. Perera

AirLanka B Div. Champs

AirLanka won the Mercantile B division League hockey championship with Airport and Aviation Services as runners-up with Ceylon Tobacco and Upali Group finishing as champions and runners- up respectively in the C Division Competition conducted by the Mercantile Hockey Association.

Browns Group emerged champions in the D division with Unilevers as runners-up. The A division contest is presently in progress with Commercial Bank in the lead closely followed by Hatton National Bank, Singers, Seylan Bank, Pelwatta Sugar Industries and John Keells. The A division champions and runners-up will be decided after the match between Commercial Bank and Hatton National Bank on March 17.

Meanwhile the A division knockout tournament will commence on March 23 for which the draw will be held on March 17 at the Tamil Union Committee Room. All A division matches will be played at the P. Sara Stadium.

Top post for Eddie Gray

Eddie Gray has been appointed as the attaché and co-ordinator for the Lankan Olympic team for the next year's Olympic Games in Sydney by the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. S.B Dissanayake.

Gray, though graying in age, is still a glutton for work. Gray was the man behind the reception at the Morrabin Town Hall accorded to the Sri Lankan Cricket team which was attended by over 900 guests. Cricket Manager, Ranjith Fernado was quoted as saying that this was the best reception that he has attended both at home and abroad as it was organized in a professional manner and without a hitch.

Winning can be tiresome

By Gamini Perera

With long distance running, fading away from Sri Lanka's athletic arena, it will be of interest for our athletes to know of a man who simply stormed away from the rest of the field for eight long years against the best in the world, during his day - and never lost.

Outside the story books, it's very rare for a sportsman to walk unbeaten throughout an entire career. Even those sportsmen who had been known as 'kings' of the sporting world have known that sour taste of defeat.

But for this man it was roses all the way. His name was Herb Elliott. Herb, from the time he started serious training in 1954, until his retirement in 1962, never lost a race over his chosen distance of 1,500 metres or the mile.

He stood so high above the crowd that he did not have a serious challenger, even in sight. Herb retired at the age of twenty-four. It is said that this premature retirement was simply because the fun had faded away. Even the winning can become tiresome after a while. And, it was so with this great athlete.

Impossible dream

History will certainly remember Herb Elliott as the man who took the mystique out of the four-minute-mile. For so long, this had been the athlete's version of the impossible dream.

Roger Bannister, of England had made the impossible come true in May, 1954. Yet for all, the sub-four minute miles continued to be the headline-makers.

Elliott ran no less than seventeen sub-four-minute miles, and made such a feat appear merely a common thing. Still many fellow athletes of the day believed that Herb was merely scratching the surface of his talent. If Elliott was an athlete of today, he certainly would have been an overnight millionaire. Bronzed and handsome, he was the epitome of a commercial superman.

Even in the early sixties, Herb was offered £90,000 to turn professional. But, he turned down this offer with barely a moment's thought. For Elliott, fame and fortune did not appear to mean all that much and important to him.

It was a philosophy that doubtless owed so much to the lifestyle of his coach, Percy Cerutty.

Weak heart

Many years earlier, coach Cerutty had been told that his heart was weak. If he cruised through his days, forsaking sport and violent pleasures, he would have had a reasonable chance of reaching middle age. But the response was typical of the man.

He began to run, as he saw it, literally for his life. He pushed his craggy frame through the pain barriers, until he became one of the best long-distance runners in Australia.

This total belief was perhaps the greatest gift he bestowed upon the young men he coached. Losing had no place in the Cerutty creed.

Looked calm

During the 1958 Commonwealth Games at Cardiff, Elliott looked so calm before the start of his races which opted some to ask whether it had ever occurred to him that he might lose.

He had answered by saying that if he knew such a thing, the best thing he could do was his best and remain strong over the two final laps.

"I will win and that's all I need to know," Herb had said.

In fact, he didn't need to worry about the tactics of his opponents. He set his own battle plan and dared the others to follow.

That tactic was simplicity itself. Soon after the halfway point of a race, he would make the long run for home. This move was rather revolutionary. No champion had ever won a race that way before.

Elliott's career had commenced fittingly enough, on the day Bannister first went through the four-minute barrier.

He was 16 and yet still good enough to record 4 min: 20.8 secs in the mile.

The Australian press had hailed Herb as a future worldbeater.

And, just two years later, he underlined that prediction by setting world junior bests for the mile.

His amazing times were: 4: 4.3 secs for the mile, 3: 47.8 secs for the 1500 metres, 9m 1 sec for the two miles, and 14m 2.4 secs for the three miles.

Just nineteen

Herb was only 19, when he ran his first sub four-minute mile. And at the age of 20 he stepped up a gear and moved into a class of his own.

He won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and shattered the world records for 1,500 metres and the mile.

At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he won the 1,500 metres, finishing 20 metres ahead of the silver medalist, Michael Jazy of France. That was the measure of his supremacy. The time of 3: 35.6 secs broke his own world record. The most immediate impression of Herb Elliott in action was one of strength. Coach Cerutty had Herb running up and down the sandhills. Sometimes it was for hours on end. After such gruesome training, running on flat tracks seemed like paradise for Herb. The very toughness of his training helped Herb to achieve feats, previously considered impossible.

In 1958, during the space of eight days, Herb ran 1,500 metres in 3 min. 36 secs, the mile in 3m 58 secs again the mile in 3m. 55.4 secs and the 1500 metres in 3m. 37.4 secs.

Herb's best day

But perhaps the best day of all for Herb came in the latter part of 1958. It was in the Golden Mile in Dublin.

This field included the Olympic 1,500 metres champion, Ron Delaney, the then world three-miles record holder, Alby Thomas, a future Olympic champion, Murray Halberg and another Australian, Merv Lincoln. Alby Thomas took the field through the first lap in 56 secs. And, it was still Thomas throughout the second lap. His time for the half-mile was 1;m 58 secs.

But, Elliott, by his standards, had merely been coasting, and then he bounded into the lead, making that by-then the famous long run for home.

Only on this occasion, the script had been changed.

Merv Lincoln, not only came with Elliott, but overtook him down the back-straight.

Elliott took the lead just before the bell and, thanks to this unexpected tow, he was stronger than ever. He had run the first three-quarters of a mile in 2 m. 59secs and now there was no stopping him.

Herb simply stormed away from the rest of the field, looking more like a sprinter than a miler. He went through the tape in 3m. 54.5 sec. It was a full 2.7 secs inside the then existing world record.

Lincoln, Delaney, Halberg and Thomas (in that order) were also still inside the four-minute barrier.

The mystique had gone for ever.

The Royal Thomian: More than a cricket match

For most Royalists and Thomians, the Royal Thomian Cricket match is one of the most important events in their social calendar. Cricket apart, this event brings the present and old boys of both schools together for three days of healthy rivalry and camaraderie. The camaraderie that prevails amongst the old boys in the joint enclosures such as the Mustangs and the Colts, embodies the spirit of this event. Many are the lasting friendships that have been forged, amongst the players and the boys of both schools in their endeavour to produce a successful and entertaining event. The fairer sex too have always graced the occasion in their numbers, and are an integral part of the event.

The'Big Match' as it is called is the final league game of the season for both schools and the run-up matches of the long season are considered skirmishes in preparation for the big battle. Both schools assess the strengths and weaknesses of their respective teams as well as their opponents and finetune their strategy for the big occasion. I had the good fortune of playing in the victorious 1964 Thomian Team which was astutely led by the late Premalal Gunesekera. To achieve this victory our captain planned meticulously, the bowling tactics to be adopted against each Royal batsman. This I must confess is the finest piece of captaincy witnessed during my school cricket career. In recent years, although the game has been played over three days in the hope of achieving a result, due to the negative and unimaginative approach adopted by both schools, the games have proved to be dull and uninteresting. It is up to the captains and coaches to keep the game alive during the three days by adopting a positive approach.

A feature of the Royal-Thomian has been the revelry that takes place during the intervals of the match. The boys of both schools parade the grounds accompanied by their respective brass bands singing and dancing joyfully. In the past field invasions by supporters of a player reaching a milestone was part and parcel of the game.

However in the recent past field invasions have became too frequent with supporters running onto the field aimlessly and holding up the game for long periods of time.

Thankfully this nuisance was stopped by the authorities during last year's game, and it is encouraging to note that they plan to do the same this year too.

It is also desirable to take stern action against those who consume too much liquor and make a nuisance of themselves at the venue. The bawdy utterings and the quarrelsome nature of such spectators, spoil the event for so many others who have to tolerate it as a part of the event.

In the past The Big Match venue has been a safe place for the young schoolboys and ladies and discipline was maintained by the prefects of the two schools. Today, sadly, security personnel have to be deployed to make the venue a safe place for all.

The Royal Thomian cricket match has survived for 120 long years with some good traditions maintained by both schools.

It is upto all Royalists and Thomians to maintain these traditions and restrict or eradicate any disruptive elements that may creep into this great event, so that the future generations of Royalists and Thomians will be able to enjoy it as much as their predecessors.

Anura Tennekoon
(Former Capt. of S. Thomas' College and Captain of the Sri Lanka team)

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