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21st March 1999

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Thrills at Pannala

By Channaka de Silva

The open event for motor cars at the Pannala Super Cross at Pannala last Sunday was exceptional. The excitement which generated at this race has not been witnessed at a motor race meet for a long Trills at Pannalatime.

In the penultimate-lap Pradeep Jayawardena overtook race leader Aravinda Premadasa in a thrill-a-second manner that could only be witnessed in movies.

Magnificently executed, the manoeuvre by Jayawardena was lauded by many as perfectly accomplished and many seasoned campaigners told the "Sunday Times" that it is something that they will not forget for a long time.

It also looked as just the right remedy for the ailing motor sports of the country which suffers from the lack of enthusiasm shown by spectators. More entertainment surely means more spectators.

The Open event was a ten lap race. There were four competitors at the start but it was really a contest between the three high powered cars. The two Subaru Imprezas of Aravinda Premadasa and Pradeep Jayawardena and the Mitsubishi Evolution of Dinesh Deheragoda were really set for a grand show. But the yellow Impreza of Premadasa was just a shade quicker to respond at the start and it was enough to put him in the lead for the first eight laps. But just as the finish was closing in, Jayawardena performed the trick of his life, overpowering Premadasa in the straight stretch when he went slightly off the track as the narrow track hardly had room for such a move and surged ahead.

Then later in the lap, Premadasa struggling hard to get back in the lead collided with Jayawardena while attempting to sneak ahead and while the two rolled off course, Deheragoda who was right on their toes up to then powered past them to take the chequered flag first. Jayawardena finished second, a little less than what many thought he deserved for the brilliant drive past Premadasa who had to settle for the third place having led the race almost throughout except when it mattered most.

But that was not the only excitement. The dominance of Ananda Wedisinghe who proved once again his amazing skills on motor bikes and Rohith de Silva who exhibited his versatility, winning different events, were outstanding in the other events.

But above everything, one thing was clear. The races had received the seal of approval from the public. The massive turnout which filled the viewing areas, numbered to over 20,000 according to official figures. This seemed unbelievable in the days when the organisers were finding it hard to muster 2000 people for the races at Katukurunda.

The attendance did a load of good to the motor sport in this country because many people had begun to think that it had no future in this country. However, the competitors did not disappoint the spectators either.

The Pannala Supercross indeed had something historic about it. It is the first privately owned such track in the country and it was the first time that a Super Cross was held at such a track.

Built in a land owned by former ace champion motorcycle rider Upali Dassanayake, the track was fantastic and boasted of every facility that a track requires.

Dassanayake had specially flown down British born car racing team manager Colin Marshall for the race to evaluate the track and help them make necessary adjustments to the track.

Marshall, a former world Superbike champion was highly impressed by the track and in a speech at the award ceremony said that he would take steps to stage one leg of the Asian Motor cycle championships at the Pannala track in the near future.

Dassanayake happy with the way things turned out, vowed to put tar on the track and make it a perfect one for competition which would give it the distinction as the country's only dedicated full time motor racing track.

The meet was conducted by Negombo Motor Sports Club and it was also the first competitive event they conducted. Club President Squadron Leader Avindra Mirando presented a plaque at the award ceremony for the nice work done by Pubudu Wickrema, President of the SLARDAR who were the co-hosts.

Wedisinghe was clearly the star of the day's proceedings when he rode majestically to victory on his Weds. Special 400 in the Bikes Open event. He led from start to finish and was never posed a serious challenge. His brother Udesh finished second while Jeffrey Buultjens was third. In addition to the plum of the day he also bagged titles in two other prestigious events - the Four Strokes open and the Upto 250 CC racing event. Andreas Klaus was second in the Four Strokes event while Shane Gunawardena was third.

Rohith de Silva won the Standard cars event on a Toyota Delo and then captured the Trucks and Jeeps Open event on a Austin Havoline Pick Up. His Pick Up which was only powered by a 1300 cc engine, the smallest by far in the race powered ahead of the high powered rivals with astonishing ease. He held the lead from the start till the finish and emerged winner by a massive margin. Dinesh Deheragoda finished second in the race on an Isuzu Delo Double Cab which was powered by a 2800 cc engine, 1500 cc more than de Silva's.

Rohith de Silva did not start the Upto 1665 cc event on his Mini, while his brother Thusith, the favourite for the event had to unfortunately withdraw when his engine caught fire at the start-line just before the start.

Thusith however had won the Upto 1350 cc event with ease in the earlier event.

The standard cars 10-12 kg/Hp was won by veteran driver Ananda de Alwis on his old Ford Mexico defeating Rohith de Silva to second place. Preethi Palliyaguru the third.

Standard Cars Group A under 10 KG/Hp was also a hotly contested event. Nalin Perera won the event on a Toyota Cynos after leading from the front. Preethi Palliyaguru who drove a Ford Laser began the race at the fourth place and overtook Rohith de Silva for the third position before pushing Upulwan Serasinghe to the limit to grab the second spot. However, de Silva and Palliyaguru had a collision in the penultimate lap which left the latter having a tyre puncture. This effectively finished Palliyaguru's chances and de Silva finished third.

Hard to beat!

"If an umpire is wrong a captain can make an on-field spectacle of it"

By Ramesh Joseph

For sheer on-field, and indeed for on-screen drama, the Ranatunga-Emmerson face-off would be hard to beat even though it ended up being pretty one sided. Arjuna Ranatunga is a tough strong-willed man. The line between being shrewd and being calculating can get quite blurred with him and he is quite the master at painting apparently neutral situations in colours that he fancies. If you are taking him on, and you don't have a cricket ball in your hand, you have to be completely in control of yourself and the situation.

Ross Emmerson was neither. He didn't have the stature, or the coolness of mind, to get into the confrontation he did and sadly for him, and Australian cricket, he emerged a very distant second.

In Emmerson's favour, it must be said that the law allows him to call a bowler for chucking if he is not "entirely satisfied" with the legality of his action. Sadly for him the best judges in the world, apart from knowing the law inside out, also study precedents and analyse the repercussions of their judgement.

In 1995, Emmerson and Darrell Hair had called Muralitharan for chucking. Hair has since made his views known quite publicly and it was apparent that among the people that count he stood alone on that platform. Emmerson should have realised that there was a very weak legal case in favour of calling Muralitharan again, especially after the ICC had cleared his action. As a practitioner of cricket's laws, he chose to disregard that.

For Emmerson to have proved his point, and for him to be able to show that the other umpires were politically correct and legally wrong, two things needed to have happened. First, the ball on which he called Muralitharan should have been visibly different from the others that he didn't. Second, Muralitharan's action on the ball that was called should have been just as different from his action that the ICC throwing committee saw and approved. On both counts, Emmerson sinks and if you add the fact that his action was probably pre-meditated? It doesn't show him in very good light as an international umpire.

He chose a poor role model in Darrell Hair, who is widely believed to be the best umpire that Australia have, but whose international rating is suspect.

As with Emmerson, Hair suffers from poor credibility outside his country and so it came as no surprise that he was eventually proved wrong.

Arjuna and his men knew that this was going to happen at some stage on the tour and that is why Ranatunga was ready when the moment came. His finger wagging at Emmerson wasn't the prettiest sight in the world, but he was making a point and he wanted the whole world, his team, the opponents and television viewers back home to see that. Should he have done it? Should he, put on the most appalling behaviour by an international captain? It is important to see that in perspective and with a little background to what the Sri Lankans had been subjected to.

It was in such a situation that Ross Emmerson produced the worst day of Australian umpiring. Ranatunga knew that Emmerson was on a sticky wicket and this was his opportunity to prove that his was the wronged team. He went the distance. His only other option was to take Muralitharan off and that would have gone against what his team and country had fought for and won, the right to allow Muralitharan to play test cricket. Remember too that Ranatunga and Sri Lankan cricket had stayed by Muralitharan through his darkest days, they had encouraged and nurtured him towards becoming the best off-spinner in the world.

Arjuna Ranatunga raises a very important question, the game lives on the authority of the umpire and if that is ruined, it could open some very damaging issues. It might lead to captains confronting umpires over replay decisions which, as we have seen can sometime wrong. That is why we were told, and every child should be told as well, that the umpire is always right, even if sometimes he is seen to be wrong.

Now, at international level, that is being questioned. Emmerson was wrong and though pushed into a corner, Ranatunga defied his authority. He told the world, "if an umpire is wrong a captain can make an on-field spectacle of it."

The current method is for an umpire to refer a suspect action to the match referee who then asks for tapes to be sent to the ICC to be watched by the "throwing committee". A bowler is then either cleared or asked to change his action. But the umpire is still the sole judge on whether the changed action is being followed or the odd one is being allowed to go through as before. That is very, very difficult to call and so, it is virtually impossible to prevent a naughty bowler from chucking accasionally. That is what Emmerson thought Muralitharan was doing.

England never lost a Test series under Hutton

By Rev. Bro. Nimal Gurusinghe

Many of our young cricketers do not know who Len Hutton is. So I thought of writing about this great player. This great cricketer won recognition as one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history through many prodigious feats, one of the earliest being his 364 in the Oval Test of 1938.

This memorable innings he played when he was only 22- years-old. It was the longest as well as the highest innings played in the long England vs. Australia series. Yet probably his most remarkable feat was in resuming his career, for Yorkshire and England, with no loss of skill, after World War II when, as a result of an accident in an Army Gymnasium his left arm was shorter and less strong than his right.

Len Hutton is also remembered as the first professional in modern times to lead England which he did with much success for three years from 1952. He was the Captain when England regained the 'Ashes' in 1953 and also when they retained them on the triumphant tour of 1954-55 by beating Australia 3-1. A profound thinker of the game, he liked to be captain and to be able to put his theories into practice. But a very strange thing in his cricket career was that he had never been apppointed Captain of Yorkshire.

Len Hutton's influence on English Cricket of his time was often described as dour and defensive. But though he was a tough, practical captain against Australia, the patience he showed in his batting often tended to obscure its great quality. When he really unleashed his superb strokes it was a sight not to be forgotten.

But it was as a technician that he was pre-eminent. He was a marvellously correct batsman, stylish if not spectacular, and always in the right positions, even though he seldom used his feet to move out of the pitch for the ball. Colin Cowdrey, once said that Hutton was the most complete batsman he had ever seen.

Hutton's early years with the Yorkshire second XI left little doubt that another great England batsman had been found. Born in Pudsey, he came, at an early age under the eye of another great Yorkshireman, George Hirst, the country coach. He was also a useful leg-break bowler then, and throughout he was a competent fielder, mostly close to the batsmen.

He played his first class match for Yorkshire at Cambridge in 1934 and failed to score. In his first two seasons Yorkshire used him sparingly, but awarded his county cap in the third when he made 1000 runs for the first time. In the latter years he made more than 2000 runs in a season 10 times and in 1949 scored 3429 runs, a seasonal aggregate bettered only by Denis Compton, Bill Edrich and Tom Hayward.

By 1937 Hutton was scoring 10 centuries during the season but in his first Test against New Zealand that year he made 00 and 1. But in his second Test in the same series vs. New Zealnd he scored his first century. He began the 1938 series against Australia with another 100 and an opening stand of 219 with Charles Barnett. He completed it with his record breaking 364 made in 13 hours 20 minutes. In the last season before the War he made 196 against West Indies at Lord's and, in the last pre-war Test 73 and 165 not out at the Oval. He was the young master with a magnificent future to come.

The injury to his arm occured early in the war, and susbsequently he had three seasons of local and services cricket in which to overcome his disability before first class cricket began in 1946. In 1945 he opened, in services matches with Cyril Washbrook with whom he was to share a famous Test partnership, and with Compton and Bill Edrich in their prime as there was no shortage of English batting in the post-war years. But Compton was soon affected by his knee injury and Australia had formidable bowling sides in those years. Therefore many of Hutton's most important innings before the advent of May and Cowdrey were played sustaining an uncertain English batting side.

Once at Lord's in 1948 he batted so unimpresssively that he was dropped for the next Test, a strange decision in restrospect, for he played Lindwall and Miller at their fastest supremely well. This was especially so in 1950-51 when he scored 533 runs and averaged 88.83 50 more than the next best batsman.In South Africa in 1948-49 Hutton batted with, Washbrook all through a day's play in Johannesburg and they scored 359 for the first wicket.

At Lords in 1953, he made 145 agaist Australia and that winter became the first professional to take the MCC side overseas. In the West Indies, England lost the first two Tests but won the third and fifth in which the captain made 169 and 205 respectively. He missed part of the first series against Pakistan in 1954, returning to lead England in the Test they lost at the Oval. But his mind was on the tour of Australia and though he averaged only 24 in the 1954-55 series, he led England shrewdly and effectively to one of their most decisive victories against Australia.

For Hutton it was the fulfilment of a burning ambition to redress the lack of success on his two previous tours. As a batsman his only real innings of the series came appropriately enough in the Fourth Test, which England won and thus retained the Ashes. In reply to Australia's score in the first innings of 323, Hutton carefully showed the way with a painstaking 80. It took four and a half hours and it was his only fifty of the series. But it guided England to a first innings lead after which came Tyson and Statham at their best and eventual victory.

His form in the tour matches was as impeccable as ever. He made over a thousand runs in Australia. But after the two Tests against New Zealand on the way back to England, he left international cricket and announced his retirement from the game after injuries had restricted his appearances for Yorkshire in 1955. England did not lose a Test Series under his command- a tribute to his leadership.

Arthur Wood did it in style

Arthur Wood who kept wickets for Yorkshire in the 1930's was chosen to make his Test debut in the final Test at the Oval in 1938. He always had a burning desire to play for England. But unfortunately, at that time England had two of the finest 'keepers in Duckworth and Ames.

However, when Ames was not fit for the Oval Test, Wood was picked to replace him. And this at the age of 53!! Of course by this time Wood himself had given up all hopes of an England 'cap'. He was pottering round in his garden, when he heard the names of the England twelve being broadcast over B.B.C. and to his shock and utter amazement his name was in the twelve. Being the only keeper's name in the twelve, he knew that he was certain of a 'cap' at last!.

Now Yorkshire is in the north of England and the Test was to be played at the Oval in Surrey which is in the south of England. Packing his bags he told himself, "This will be my only Test, so I am going to do it in style." His idea of style was to travel all the way from his home to the Oval by taxi.

When he got to the Oval, he almost blew his top off, when the taxi driver said the hire has cost him £5. When Wood heard the figure he almost exploded. "What! £5? I only hired this taxi. Surely you did not think I wanted to buy this jalopy of yours?"

This was the Test that Hutton made 364 and when Wood went into bat the score was 770 for 6 wickets. he made 53 and was caught and bowled by Sid Barnes. As he was coming off the field, a member said, "Well played Arthur." To which Wood replied, "Well played - just like me to get out in a crisis."

And at this time England was closing in on the 900 mark, with Fingelton and Bradman having no chance of batting..

Sellar's dilemma

Autocratic captains are not all that popular. Some captains are not firm enough, or sure enough of their judgement. But captains like Grace, Fender, Jardine, Bradman, Hassett, Benaud, Chappell, Worrell, Sobers, Lloyd and Richards were nationally known, and each and every one of them knew what they wanted.

One of the best captains of a by-gone era was Brian Sellars of Yorkshire. When Yorkshire played under Sellars they played attacking and positive cricket. So that the turnstiles kept clicking. And that was the way Sellars wanted it. So Sellars once made a sporting declaration in a county match against Gloucestershire at Bradford in 1939.

It rained on the first day and no play was possible. With only two days left, it was a tough struggle for both sides to obtain first innings points. Sellars winning the toss batted first and made 253, with Leyland, Mitchell and Smailes doing the scoring. When the Gloucestershire innings started, they lost Sinfield early, but Barnett, Hopkins and Crapp got stuck in and Hammond top scored with 75. On the last day, the wicket was a horribly sticky one and Verity went to town taking 6 for 60 and Yorkshire had a lead of 26 and the first innings points safely tucked under their belts.

"Yorkshire never played cricket for fun," were the famous words of Herbert Sutchliffe. But Sellars most sportingly threw the gauntlet down and went for an outright win. When they batted again he told his men to hit out or get out. But inspite of the sticky wicket Yorkshire raced to 162 in only 80 minutes. Sellars then called them off and gave Gloucestershire 189 runs to chase in 100 minutes.

Gloucestershire were now "carrying the baby" and they had no other option than to pick up the gauntlet that Sellars had thrown down. Otherwise "The Champion" would have risen and told them off loud and clear so that it would have shocked the whole of Bradford. So Gloucestershire went straight into it, and despite Verity dropping on a perfect length and Robinson's vicious spin, they raced to the target in only 95 minutes.

This brought the wrath of the committee down on Sellars' head, for having thrown away the first innings points. What they wanted was for Sellars to prolong the second innings, playing dull cricket - like half-baked Yorkshire pudding - while the crowd got bored and the stands emptied.

But that was certainly not what the crowd wanted. What they wanted was exactly what Sellars and the Gloucestershire side gave them. Because they lapped up every ball that was sent down and every lusty hit.

Brue Maurice

Fox-Hill Supercross at Diyatalawa

The 6th Fox Hill Supercross annual event will be staged within the picturesque Diyatalawa Army Training Complex on April 18. This year's event will take the form of a farewell to the 20th Century and a welcome to the next Millennium.

The planned pomp and pageantry display by the Sri Lanka Military Academy will be equally matched by a well planned rehearsed and breath-taking schedule of Motor Car and Motor Cycle events presented by Sri Lanka Association of Racing Drivers and Riders (SLARDAR).

Being by far the most prestigious and looked forward to meet in the Motor Sports Calendar of Sri Lanka, the Organizers - Sri Lanka Association of Racing Drivers and Riders (SLARDAR) together with the Sri Lanka Military Academy has already commenced preparatory work to make this the Motor Sports event of the century.

In brief...

Dilshani wins HNB trophy

Thirteen-year-old Dilshani Bogollagama, from the Colombo International School won the Hatton National Bank Trophy for the best Center Court Player.

Dilshani won this trophy in the Under-15 International Schools Netball Tournament, which took place at the Shalika Grounds, Narahenpita.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Dilshani said: "I took up netball because of the interest I had in the sport. I have been playing netball for the last two years".

She said her favourite position is that of Goal Attack. "Last year too I represented the school in the Under-15 B-division tournament".

She said that she is happy with her performance the A-division competition this year.

In conclusion Dilshani said one of her ambitions is to play for the national team.

Confifi Group win

Confifi Group beat the visiting Kent Veteran's cricket team convincingly at the BRC Grounds.

Batting first Confifi Group collected 269 for 8 in their 40 overs with Samantha Sooriyaarachchi top scoring with 62.In reply the Kent Veterans scored 132 for 8 in their alloted 40 overs.

Before the game Confifi Group Managing Director Stefan Furkhan and Len Morris of the Kent Veterans team hosted their respectve national flags.

Confifi Group - 269 for 8 in 40 overs (Samantha Sooriyaarachchi 62, Palitha Fonseka 49, R.Kottachchi 35, Ramesh Perera 34, Prasad Silva 31, Lalith Silva 25; A.Jenner 2 for 25, K.Juntley 2 for 42)

Kent Veterans - 132 for 8 in 40 overs (B.Hart 45, M.Boldcock 19; R.Kottachchi 3 for 8, R.M.Jayantha 2 for 25)

Ken Hutton skipper of the Kent Veterans cricket team with Stefan Furkhan MD and Anura Lokuhetty, Director Operations of Confifi Group Hotels before the start of the match.

SSC gala banquet

The members of the SSC will hold a gala banquet at Hotel Lanka Oberoi to celebrate the centenary of the club. This is part of the many events planned by the club for the celebrations. An hour of fellowship will be enjoyed by the members prior to sitting down for the formal banquet.

Chairman of Banquet committee Ubhaya de Silva will make the welcome speech followed by two speeches by club president Daya Perera and P.Ian Pieris, a former captain of the club.

R.J. de Silva, the chairman of the Celebrations Committee will deliver the vote of thanks.

Tickets for the dinner, open only for members and their spouses will come in the form of a souvenir - a certificate of attendance. The members themselves, United Motors and Orient Lanka Limited, will be the main sponsors of the event.

Only 500 guests will be accommodated at the dinner as this is the maximum capacity according to SSC.

Rahula College OBA meeting

The 37th annual general meeting of the Rahula College Matara Old Boys Association Colombo Branch will be held on Saturday March 27th at the Shalika Hall, Narahenpita at 6 p.m. The former Principal of the College N. Ariyawansa will be the chief guest with the present principal Sarath Gunaratne as the guest of honour.

The meeting will be chaired by R. K. Chandrananda de Silva, President who is the Secretary, Defence.

Seventy five students who secured the best results at the G.C.E. (A/L) in 1997 will receive scholarships on this occasion.

The former Principal, B.P. Ariyawansa with Mrs Ariyanwansa who migrated to New Zealand in 1966 will meet their pupils at the meeting.

Diamond jubilee plaques, mugs, umbrellas and other souvenirs will be made available on this day.

Kadolkele cricket complex

The opening ceremony of the Kadolkele Cricket Complex under the National Development plan of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka through the Colombo Regional Board and the Gampaha District Cricket Association together with the Negombo Municipal Council will be held on Sunday March 21 at 4 p.m. The inaugural cricket match, the finals of the Sustagen Trophy Tournament organised by the Gampaha District Cricket Assocition will be played in the morning at 9 a.m. This complex costing Rs 250,000/- will benefit the cricket playing schools and clubs in the area.

Infrastructure facilities such as two side wickets, two sightscreens, the scoreboard, one roller pitch, a matting and a slip board are available at the venue.

The official opening ceremony will be held under the patronage of the Minister of Plan Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, the Mayor of Negombo Municipal Council, Ananda Munasinghe and the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, Thilanga Sumathapala.

Neil: Mahinda's ultimate all-round sportsman

By W.M.V. de Silva

From his earliest days at Mahinda, it was clear that Neil had extraordinary sporting ability. It was also an added advantage that he was living (with us) very close to the college grounds which allowed him the opportunity to spend all of his spare time on the playground. He was invariably the last to leave it every evening and at the compulsory night study sitting he would more often read about Bradman than about Shakespeare.

In 1942 he captained the Under 14 cricket team against Richmond led by Arnold Adihetty who was later to become one of his closest friends. In his first year in the College Cricket team, 1946, he had to play second fiddle to his elder brother Cecil who was then one of the fastest bowlers in school cricket. Neil himself continued to play for Mahinda till 1950, captaining the side that year. On his fine performances for Mahinda as a fast bowler he was the only 'Outstation' cricketer selected to play for the Combined Colleges side against the visiting West Indian side. He was not overawed by the occasion and had the best bowling figures for the Schools' side, capturing 4 West Indian wickets. He was rewarded for this superb performance by being selected as the 12th man on the National side for the 2nd Test Match against Pakistan.

Neil was on the College soccer and athletics teams from 1947, captaining the latter in 1948. There was some concern that year about Mahinda's performance as it had lost several good athletes from the previous year's squad. I recall Mr T. B. Werapitiya, then a teacher at Mahinda and an outstanding sportsman himself, exhorting Neil and his team, "Look here you chaps, even if you cannot win the Championship, you must act and behave as champions". They must certainly have taken this advice to heart as Mahinda turned tables on the more fancied teams from St.Aloysius' and Richmond and Champions they became in every sense of the word!

Neil covered himself with glory, breaking three records in individual events, all on the same day; and helping Mahinda to establish a new record in the 4x400 yards relay, taking the first lap. The other three events were the long jump (in which he equalled the Public Schools' record), the high jump and the triple jump. Major Simon Wijeratne was so delighted by this exceptional performance that he made a personal presentation of a very valuable book on sport, to Neil. At the Public Schools' meet that year, Neil won the Triple Jump event, was placed second in the Long Jump and 4th in the High Jump. The man for whom thousands of Mahindians young and old had never failed to raise a cheer left College in 1950, having had the rare distinction of being the Captain of the Cricket, Soccer and Athletics teams and the sergeant of the Senior Cadet platoon. I believe that this is a record so far not equalled at Mahinda, though I am sure that Neil will be very happy to hear of a Mahindian who could one day better his record.

Neil is one of the few Mahindians who continued his athletics career after he left school; and with what distinction! In 1953 he won the triple jump event at the National Championships and was a member of the Ace A C team to India for the Madras State Olympic Games. He was the only member of the Sri Lanka team to win 2 events, the triple Jump and the long jump at that meet. Then, in 1954, he established a new Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) record in winning the triple jump event at the National Championship. In 1958 he bettered his own record in the same event with a distance of 47' 73/4"; for this performance he was awarded the (LEE SMITH) Trophy for the Best Athlete of the year.

In the same year, he had the distinction of being selected as the Captain of the Ceylon Amateur Athletic Association team to India for the first triangular contest between Madras, Mysore and Ceylon. His team won the championship that year and he himself won the Triple Jump event. The range and depth of his extraordinary sporting prowess is illustrated by the fact that in the same year, he was the Captain of the Saracens Sports Club in the Division Three cricket competition! It is little wonder that the cups, shields and trophies he has won fill an entire cupboard at his mother's house.

A World Record

For many years after the establishment of the world record which makes W.B. Bennett the only Mahindian to have the distinction of an entry in the Guinness Book of Records, many of us Mahindians remained unaware of his remarkable feat. On March 1, 1953, keeping wickets for Mahinda against Galle CC at the Galle Esplanade, he was responsible for the dismissal of all ten batsmen in one innings! He caught four and stumped six of his victims.

Whilst the top honours in the 1953 Big Match, which was played a few weeks after Bennett's unique feat, go to Somasiri Ambawatte for that remarkable feat of capturing all ten wickets in Richmond's first innings (and five in the second) followed up with an unbeaten century, Bennett was again in top form behind the stumps at that match too. He had six victims - four stumped and two caught - in the first innings and a further two 'scalps' in the second. In fact, Bennett holds the highest aggregate of dismissals as a wicket-keeper in the Richmond-Mahinda Big Match series. It was unfortunate for Bennett - and perhaps for Cricket in Sri Lanka - that his cricketing career was cut short during his 1957 tour of South India when he was hit on the left eye by a rising ball and did not gain full use of that eye for some three years thereafter.

Information by W.M.K. de Silva

A flannelled fool

Will someone please assure me that a juvenile delinquent has not replaced the Captain of the national cricket team and that a herd of circus-clowns has not usurped the functions of the Selection Committee? The available evidence, I am afraid, does nothing but feed my fears for worst. I write with reference to the front-page article of a Sunday Newspaper titled "Arjuna threatens to throw captaincy.

Going on past form, it is a safe prediction that the final outcome of this slap-stick comedy is that Arjuna would have thrown, not the captaincy, but his usual tantrums and [as usual] had his way. Consistency in villainy, though no virtue, has at least the merit of enabling us to identify the malefactor with reasonable accuracy. Mr. A. Ranatunge's present ill-bred and mannerless conduct follows a precedent set (naturally) by himself prior to the last tour of England with only a minor variation: - Today he stamps his feet in frustrated irritation, throws somersaults and damages the furniture (metaphorically speaking of course) to have Hashan Tillekeratne included in the pool, on pain of throwing the captaincy. It was only before the last England Tour, that this retarded little chap produced the identical manifestations to have a highly experienced batsman (and a world-class fielder) omitted, with the threat that otherwise he would himself opt out of the tour. He won, thereby displaying even better tactics outside the field than in it. And he will continue to be a winner, given the pack of invertebrates that constitute the Selection Committee. Let me now adopt a more formal and procedural approach to this question. The Selection Committee after due and grave deliberation (or so let us charitably assume) named an 18 member Pool for the World Cup. It was within their discretion to have named 19 players, but in their "wisdom" they settled for 18. It is at this stage that our juvenile delinquent launched into his now familiar burlesque and low comedy (With what distinction he would have graced the boards of the Old Tower Hall)! And with absolute fidelity to their spineless and quaking conduct of the past, the Selection Committee meekly capitulated and did what they normally do in such circumstances, to wit, made door-mats of themselves for Mr. Ranatunge to wipe his muddy boots on. They allowed themselves to be confronted with a list of 19 members, the 19th gentleman obviously not receiving the benediction of these petrified puppets. The question that clamours for an answer is: Who then has supplied the 19th name for the Ministers approval? In short, who has usurped the functions of the Selection Committee? This is a gross irregularity which warrants due investigation and which should be followed by the most severe condemnation if, in cricketing matters at least, a democracy is not to be replaced by a dictatorship.

A few years ago this country had (we can hardly say boasted) as its Army Commander a gentleman who unblushingly stated that whatever the blemishes, blunders and irregularities an Army Commander may have countenanced nevertheless "It is not the custom in this country for anyone to resign". Nothing could more disgrace a soldier's uniform than such a self-abasing statement. Be that as it may, we now are invited to witness the resurgence of this admirable "custom" as currently exhibited in the conduct of the gentlemen of the Selection Committee. If the logic of the aforementioned events is that the Committee is to be overridden in its decisions by Arjuna Ranatunge, they have, ipso facto, made themselves redundant. In such a situation if they were to, as indeed they ought to, resign, then it can at least be said of them that they did not permit Arjuna Ranatunge to strip them of the remaining vestiges of their self-respect. But will these honourable gentlemen resign? Sadly, the answer is easily guessed. They will not uproot themselves as long as the glittering perquisites of office continue to dazle their eyes and the wretched words of the Army Commander continue to echo in their ears.

C .T. Warnakulasuriya

On the All Weather Flat

Captain Scott Lands Lincoln Trial

By Ismail Khan

By the time you read these comments the 1999/2000 Flat Turf season would have shot off from Doncaster on March 25 to a roaring start and the first few days of the flat season behind us.

Anyway comments on these races run with the running reflections of the first major flat handicap - the Lincolnshire Handicap run on March 20 would be penned by me next week. I am still trying to get you some horses to follow on the flat and National Hunt. I shall pass it on to you as I receive it.

Now over to the running reflection of Saturday March 13 at Wolverhampton All Weather track on the flat.

The opener the Bernard's Handicap over 7 furlongs was won by trainer John Berry's Statistician ridden by young Michael Fenton. He beat Garnock Valley by a head in a thrilling finish. Third finished Live Project. One to follow from this race - the veteran Garnock Valley - although 9 years old still in good heart. Follow him over Flat proper. The Victoria Maiden stakes over a mile was won by W. Jarvis trained 3 year old Gevity who made it all from 4 out to beat Rouge 1/2 length with Forty Forte in third spot.

Race number three over six furlongs went to Dr. J. Scargill trained Pips Song, and in and out runner at 14/1 from Ocker and Night Flight Oips Song 8th last essay also at the same venue behind Italian Symphony on 17/2 flashed late on the firing line and had 1 3/4 lengths over the runner-up, Ocker with Night Flight a further a neck away in third spot. He should appreciate a 5 furlong journey.

Race Number four went to Yakareem at 14/1 from Weet-A-Minute . The winner from K. Mahdi stables from the Emirates was a bolt out of the blue. His last runs were last year.

The 2nd Division of the Bernards Handicap went to Mrs. Lamyman's Mutubari from Kass Halwa and Step On Degas. One to follow: Mutabari the winner for more winning sorties.

The principal event, the Ed Weetman Haulage Lincoln Trial Stakes Handicap went to Jim Glover's Captain Scott at 15/2 from Welville and Nomore Mr. Niceguy. Incidentally Captain Scott was the Ante post favourite for this race but eased as Nomore Mr Niceguy attracted more money. Captain Scott won by 2 lengths. Horse to follow; Captain Scott himself who is sure to have a good flat season. The final race was won by the favourite Avondale Girl, one of the horses to be followed given by me from Keen Hands and Legal Venture. Follow Avondaale Girl till she is beaten.

So that much for today. With the Flat Turf underway I hope to give you more insight on horses to follow.

70th 'Battle of the Maroons'

Ananda set to dominate

By Ravi Nagahawatte

The Ananda team will be the side to watch when they confront traditional rivals Nalanda in their 70th 'Battle of the Maroons' cricket fixture which will commence at the Sinhalese Sports Club grounds on March 27.

The lads from Ananda Mawatha, who hold a reputation for being one of the best teams this season, could be the ones to dominate this encounter which promises two full days of entertaining cricket. Led by fourth year player, Jithendra Perera, the Anandians have knocked up six wins from 17 outings in comparision to their opponents who are also unbeaten to date having drawn all their matches except one. The team led this year by Niranjan Kumar Manikkage registered a solitary victory against Sri Sumangala whom they vanquished by seven wickets.

Bowling seems to be the main weapon the Anandians have relied on this season for a stupendous performance with five of their bowlers having been among the wickets throughout the season.

Their six wins this season depicts well, their strength this year in having the ability to bowl out a side twice .

Right arm off spinner Mithumudalige Pushpakumara plays the part of the 'lead assassin' in the side and has bagged 60 victims this season. Pushpakumara has worried most of the leading school's batsmen with his sharp deliveries and has had three five wicket hauls this season.

Assisting him in the spin department is fresher Kasun Fernando who has picked up 48 wickets this season . The medium built Fernando has shown the knack to snare a batsman at crucial times and has his figures of 5 for 24 against Dharmaraja as his best effort. Also among the spinners who have excelled this season are deputy skipper Tilina Kandambi who has bagged 42 wickets.

Opening the pace attack will be third year coloursman Akalanka Ganegama and fresher Sanjaya Bandara who have both fared well this year.The duo have claimed over 30 wickets this season.

Leading the batting averages in the Ananda camp is Muthumudalige Pushpakumara who has amassed 640 runs . The all rounder thumped an impressive 122 against St. Benedict's and also came good on six other occasions where he reached the 50 run mark.

Last year's skipper Lahiru Chathuranga and Lakshan Fernando will be looked upon to lay the 'foundation' to a big total if Ananda wins the toss and decides to bat on the SSC grounds which has always been batsmen friendly. Fernando has passed 500 runs this year while the experienced Chathuranga has accumulated over 600 runs with a top score of 88 against Dharmasoka. Skipper Jithendra Perera and Kandambi also hold the reputation for being aggressive batsmen and will be depended upon heavily for solid contributions. Both have passed the five hundred run mark this year.

Skipper and fourth year coloursman Niranjan Kumar Manikkage spearheads the Nalanda bowling with his fiery pace deliveries. The right arm paceman will be left to exercise all his experience and should shoulder the team's bowling with his vicious deliveries. Manikkage has bagged 36 wickets this season. Second year player Buddhika Ranaweera will partner the skipper in sharing the new ball.

Ranaweera has bagged 31 victims this season. Second year player Kelum Gangodawila will add punch to the Nalanda pace attack by assisting in the opening bowling spell. Right arm leg spinner Sukitha Peiris , left arm leg spinner Pradeep Hedigalle and Dilhan Jayasundra will be the main performers in spin. Jaysundera who bowls off spinners is the most impressive out of the lot and has claimed 33 wickets this season.

The right handed Dilhan Jayasundara and Sukitha Peiris open the batting for the Nalandians. Both have fared moderately this season. Peiris is the only centurian of the side.

Holding the top spot in the battaing averages is vice-captain and Sri Lanka schools player Mevan Porage who has accumulated 581 runs this year.

Another batsman who could contribute immensely to the Nalanda total is fresher Hiran Gunawardana, who has also impressed this season totaling over 500 runs.Second year player Pradeep Hedigalle is another batsman who could contribute to the batting with a big score .He has scored over 300.

Ananda College (from) - J. Perera (captain ) , T.Kandambi , L . Chathuranga , M. Pushpakumara, M. Mallawarachchi, A.Ganegama, L.Fernando, K.Fernando, S.Bandara, E.Abeysinghe, D.Bandara , M.Ramzi.

Nalanda College (from) N.K.Manikkage (captain), M.Porage, S.Peiris, K.Gangodawila, P.Hedigalle, D.Jayasundara, H. de Mel, K.Gamanayake, B.Ranaweera , C.Gunatilake, A.Kiriella, H.Gunawardana, M.Perera. K.Bandaratillake, R.Prasanna, W.Perera, R. de Silva


Adjudicators become jokers

I regret to bring to the notice of the public, how the Adjudicators for the match awards of the 65th Josephian Peterite cricket encounter which was held at the P. Sara Stadium on 12th & 13th of March '99, proved themselves to be a set of "Jokers" by giving the Best Fielder's award to Suranga Pinto of St. Peter's for holding just one catch in the match and depriving the Josephine all rounder Johannes Jayasuriya, who was not even the reserve wicket-keeper in the side as the reserve wicket-keeper is Surein Perera, but had to take over the gloves when Glen Perera the Josephian wicket-keeper was injured. Johannes did a marvelous job behind the stumps having seven (7) victims (3 brilliant stumpings & 4 catches) breaking two records and equalling two series records.

At the award ceremony, when it came to the Best Fielder all started shouting "come-on Johannes and cheering him. But all were shocked when Suranga Pinto's name was announced and at once there were seconds of pin-drop silence I'm sure even Suranga Pinto would have been embarrassed to accept it.

The Adjudicators were Lantra Fernando, Tony Opatha - the former National Cricketer from St. Peter's and Ranjith Malawana from St. Joseph's.

It was heard after the awards ceremony, that Ranjit Malawana was not in favour of the decision made by the other two and in fact an old boy from the commentary box had told Tony Opatha to change it as it was not the proper thing to do. But Tony had said that he decided to give it to the Peterites as a token and went ahead with it.

Is this the way former cricketers, specially a former National Cricketer should do things to promote the game, by setting a very bad example to the up and coming school cricketers. How can they get involved in promoting the game when they do this type of things. Is it that their knowledge of cricket is fading off with age? Or is it their style of doing things?

Whatever it is, they have brought disgrace to the school as Old Boys who have represented the school. However I know that Ranjit Malawana is a well respected and a distinguished Old Joe and he would have been over-ruled by the two old Peterites who would have wanted to show their loyalty to St Peter's by borrowing or robbing from St. Joseph's .

I would like to have the Sports Editor's comments on this and also from other cricket and sports lovers, as I think it's high time that manipulation at all levels be stopped.

Joe Jayasuriya.

Herb Elliott to carry the Olympic torch

By Bernie Wijesekera

Legendary Herb Elliott, who won the 1,500m at the 1960 Olympic Games in a record time, says carrying the torch would be a great opportunity to be in the thick in the Sydney Olympics in year 2,000

According to Elliott, much attention is focused, at this juncture as it is based in Sydney. But the torch relay start shows that its nationwide. According to torch design company Blue Sky Design it won the $3 million plus contract to design and produce the 12,000 torches and 188 cauldrons for the community celebrations during the torch relays. Torch designer Mark Armstrong, says they studied the aspects of Sydney life - including Bondi Beach, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge which is world famous. There is a hive of activity come year 2000 Sydney Olympics.

It's going to be the greatest happening in Australia for the start of the year 2000 sports. The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House is agog in preparation for the Games.

Ten thousand Australians will travel for 100 days 27,000km and spread the Olympic gospel around the nation. The silver, blue, white torch, will be away from the traditional one that has carried the Olympic flame and it's cauldron in every games since 1936.

According to Elliott, it's not like any other Olympic torch - modern, it's looking forward and not looking back. Australia, held the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. The organizers, are leaving no stone unturned for the Sydney Games.

Sri Lanka's evergreen Eddie Gray who was a member of the Lankan Olympic team in 1948, when the late Duncan White won a 'Silver' in the 400m hurdles hailed from Trinity. Incidentally very few have won the 'lion' for athletics in the last 100 odd years at Trinity. White won it in 1936 while Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in 1949 and Dilip Kumar now domiciled in Sydney won in 1969. Like Duncan, ironically, all in the hurdles event. In the past Trinity has produced some top class athletes.

Gray has been nominated to be Sri Lanka's co-ordinator in the coming Sydney Games by Sports Minister S.B. DIssanayake.

Gray told the Sunday Times already tickets are being snapped up at a price for the opening ceremony, even by Sri Lankans away from Australia. Last year Gray was in Sri Lanka with late Duncan White and John de Saram to celebrate their Golden Jubilee year (1998) after White's epoch-making run in 1948. Alex Obeysekere another member of the team. too was there . Sri Lankan born Tania Van Heer along with world record holder Cathy Freeman is sure to be there with the Aussie Olympic team.

While Dr. Siri Kannangara an old Royalist, who attended to the needs of the Sri Lanka Cricket team at the recent tri-nation limited-over series in Down Under will also be in attendance. Dr. Sri who heads the Sydney Dept. of Rheumatalogy has been assigned to oversee to the needs of the Aussie Olympic team (sports medicine). It's nice to see Lankans domiciled Australia are involved at next year's Sydney Olympics.

The silver , white and blue torch will be carried by 10,000 torch bearers. Each will be running from 500m to one km at an average speed of 8.5 km/h. Each bearer can buy their torch for $300. The torch will travel 27,000km across Australia for 100 days.

The way it will travel - 16,000 km by road , 9,500 km by air, 1,500 km by rail.

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