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30th May 1999

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Four for Tendulkar

Indian Batsman Sachin Tendulkar hits a four off England's Adam Hollioake during their cricket World Cup match yesterday. - Reuters

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Australia Vs West Indies

Steve Waugh hopes McGrath strikes

From Rangi Akbar In England

Aussie skipper Steve Waugh is hoping that his main strike bowler Glenn McGrath will strike form against West Indies at Old Trafford today (Sunday May 30).

Australia go into today's Group B showdown with the West Indies knowing only a win will suffice.

Waugh knows with both Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh bowling so well and a victory crucial for both sides to take them through to the Super Six, McGrath must come up with a match winning show.

"I believe that the big game against the West Indies will bring the best out of him" said Waugh when asked about his chances against the West Indies today.

The Aussies are looking for a repeat of the huge win they had over the West Indies when the sides last met in the World Cup - a semi final during the 1996 tournament.

Many expect the Pakistan-South Africa game to be played next Saturday to be the show piece of this Festival of Cricket.

The very nature of knock-out cricket means one or both may not make it to the final. They could stumble along the way, as red-hot favourites are prone to do along the way in tournaments of this nature, but there is no doubting either side's claim to be the best. They have been a class apart from the other 10 countries taking part in the tournament.

South Africa have already confirmed themselves as winners of Group A and Pakistan did the same with a 62 runs win over New Zealand on Friday.

New Zealand's fate is still in their own hands, despite two heavy defeats in their last two matches. They were demolished by the West Indies on Monday and put up no resistance against Pakistan bowlers on Friday.

As for Sri Lanka, who take on Kenya today, there is hardly any chance of being in the Super Six and do not be surprised if they do slink into Colombo in singles and doubles, instead of a team, to escape the wrath of their once adoring fans.

Tour officials were unable to be contacted and with the present form do not be surprised if they fall to Kenya as well in Southampton today.

I am told that back home in Sri Lanka they are asking Arjuna Ranatunga to resign. But he has told the English press he will carry on regardless.

There is also the story that Alan Wahab, who is based in England, has been assaulted by a top Cricket Board Official for his remarks after the Sri Lanka-India game in Taunton, which Sri Lanka lost badly. Alan Wahab was Sri Lanka's press officer when Sri Lanka last toured England in happier times when they won the Emirates Trophy.

It looks as if a complete re-vamping of the side is needed. Who is going to do that I wonder!


What went wrong after Whatmore?

By Marlon Fernandopulle

In the aftermath of Sri Lanka's shattering debacle in the World Cup, there are growing calls for the appointment of a high-level committee to probe what has gone wrong and work out a clear strategy for the future.

"Our top order didn't click, bowlers were not upto the mark and we dropped a lot of catches. They played better cricket than us." Yes those same old excuses will be echoed over and again in some parts of the media as reasons for our losses in the World Cup.

But take a closer look behind the wicket to know the full story. Was there full planning before the games? Was there a definite strategy and was their a strategy to counter the opposition? Did the team have a focus?

To have focus and plan out an effective strategy we need to have persons with a sound knowledge of the game and a good cricket brain. Duleep Mendis, Roy Dias, D. S. De Silva may have been good cricketers of the past and maybe even good coaches but the trio together with the senior players have clearly demonstrated their inabilty to think, plan and device a strategy effectively. As a result Sri Lanka gave a pathetic and humilating performance.

When countries were including 4-5 medium pacers to their playing eleven, the Sri Lankan selectors went with just three medium pacers in the World Cup squad of 15. How strange, when anyone with a little sense of cricket is aware that the medium pacers often hold the key in England! This resulted in Sri Lanka continuing to play their third seamer Eric Upashantha though he was wide off the mark and way out of form.

The tour selectors were no better. They omitted the inform Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's best future prospect from the first game to include a batsman who was not even selected in the original World Cup squad of 18. Then they re-shuffled their openers in every game and in one instance said they did it as they needed a flying start when they were only chasing 200 runs for victory.

They were totally undecided in their batting lineup and made attempts to change the batting positions of Sanath Jayasuriya and Aravinda de Silva. They won the toss and chose to field on a perfect batting wicket against India. Is this the wealth of experience we talk of? Where is the thinking and the planning? Were these the tactics and tricks that were up their sleeves and spoken of by the team management before leaving for England? Did they have tricks up their sleeve or bricks?

It's here that we miss the services of Dav Whatmore. He was no big cricketer, nor was he a great coach. However he had the ability not only to motivate players and get the best from them but was also able to plan out an effective strategy for our team based on the opposition and also analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents and exploit them effectively. This is something our coaches lack though they won't admit it.

There is no doubt that Sri Lanka have paid the ultimate price at the World Cup for showing the door to Whatmore. Soon after he left, the Sri Lankans continued to win many tournaments and were upbeat that the team could win even without Whatmore. Little did they realize that the team was still thriving from the benefits of his coaching, discipline and strategy. All too soon the inevitable happened and Sri Lanka cricket plunged with time and today has reached rock bottom, or is it a bottomless pit?

There is no point in crying over spilt catches or matches. It's now time to look ahead and plan for the next World Cup in South Africa in 2003. For this we need to see what went wrong in the recent past and why. We need a top level committee comprising past cricketers who have no political connection and are ready to act with courage. This committee could probe the debacle and also map out the strategy for the long term and put Cricket back on the rails. Changes will have to be made, fresh blood infused, ageing and unfit players may have to go like it or not, or else cricket in Sri Lanka will never be able to raise its head again.

One thing is clear. Sri Lanka needs a well respected or highly professional foreign coach like Dav Whatmore or a Bob Woolmer. There is no purpose in having a Barry Richards for two weeks, a Trevor Chappel for three weeks or sending Roshan Mahanama for four weeks to the Australian Academy. Ad hoc decisions of this nature to suit the whims and fancies of individuals must stop and a long term decision must be taken to overhaul and restore Sri Lanka's place and pride.


St. Thomas' swamp Trinity

by Ravi Nagahawatte

S. Thomas' strengthened their claim as one of the teams to watch this season when they vanquished Trinity 15-5 to retain the Canon R.S. de Saram Shield in a rugby fixture played at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

It was a display of speed and brute force as the Thomian three quarters combined with their forwards to register a hard fought victory.

Running seemed easy for Thomian winger Krishan Gunawardana who unnerved the visitors with his team's first try.

Fly-half Steffan Van Twest added more value to that effort by coming good with the conversion.

The host team provided more jitters to their opponents when lock-forward Haren Jaymon went over the line following a line-out throw which originated ten metres from the goal line.

Trinity succeeded just when they showed some aggression scoring off lock-forward H. Halpe when the forwards bound together after a line out to drive over the line. The try went unconverted. Both teams thereon matched each other with enthusiasm which never seemed to die out.

Booming kicks, bone crunching tackles and sizzling runs generated enough fire and excitement during the dying minutes of the game And when the smoke cleared the final score read 15-5 in favour of the Thomians.


Kandy Revel in the Mud

by Bernie Wijesekera

Kandy S. C. front runners for the Carlsberg league championship, along with defending champions CR and FC survived in a bruising forwards battle against the young CH and FC team in miry conditions to win by 13 points (2 tries and a penalty) to six (two penalty goals) at Maitaland Crescent on Friday. At the break the visitors led 10-3.

It was Kandy, who dominated the first half, producing rousing rugby in a game at times marred by temper tantrums. But the unyielding CH young outfit never allowed their opponents to have their own way and made many breaks whenever they had the opportunity of getting the good ball.

The CH forwards led by Nazim Mohamed, despite having to confront against a heavy and powerful "eight", still gave a gutty display to hold them.

In this half the bright moment was winger Indrajit Bandaranayake who scorched over the line for KSC to take the lead.

This was followed by Niloufer Ibrahim, the nippy scrumhalf scoring the second try, which also went unconverted.

The CH was not found wanting and reduced with a penalty to make it 10-3 at the short break.

Rugby football, is a body contact game and a Dr. in at tendance in a 'must'.

Ironically, I this match it was not so. There was none to attend to the injured players. It's the duty of the host team, but the assigned Dr. Failed to turn up.

But Dr. Sarath Kapuwatte the president of the KSC, who was there to witness the match played the role of a "Good Samaritan" and filled in the void.

Sunil Peiris, the chairman of the Gymkhana Club, was quick I the end to think Dr. Kapuwatte for performing a rescue-act.

In the second half the CH back division was in the offensive in a mistake riddled half.

CH could have gone ahead when they made many breaks with the line just staring at them. But poor handling cost them the lead and the match.

Kandy fullback Nalaka Weerakody got injured, along with winger Malith Silva and hobbled out.

Asoka Jayasena stepped in to join the pack. Kandy also suffered when winger Hettirachchi was booked for played "dirty". Ref. Jamaldeen showed the yellow card and ordered him to the sin bin.


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