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29th August 1999

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Ravi for 19th time

Ravi Subramaniam won the men's singles title at the 19th Travel Trade tennis championships for the 19th consecutive time in the tourney worked off at the National Tennis Courts at Greenpath.

Ravi Sumbramainan bagged four titles winning the mens singles, mens doubles and the over 40 mens singles and doubles too in the championships sponsored by Hotel Lanka Oberoi . Aitken Spence won the overall championships with an aggregate of 290 points.

Mens singles-

Ravi Subramaniam (Aitken Spence ) bt N.S.Jayashantha (Trans Asia Hotel) 6-2,6-2.

Mens doubles-

Ravi Subramaniam (Aitken Spence )/Ravi Thambaiyah (Renuka Hotel ) bt G.Mendis/R.Perera (Sri Lankan Airlines)6-3,6-0.

Womens singles-

D.Fernando (Aitken Spence ) bt N.Edirisinghe (Sri Lankan Airlines )9-1.

Mens singles over 40-

Ravi Subramaniam (Aitken Spence) bt G. Mendis( Sri Lankan Airlines) 6-0, walk over.

Mens doubles over 40-

Ravi Subramaniam (Aitken Spence)/Ravi Thambaiyah (Renuka Hotel) bt G. Mendis/Capt.Punsala (Sri Lankan Airlines) 9-1.

Otters retain women's cager title

Otters Aquatic Club retained the Kings Challenge Shield defeating Airforce by 56 points to 43 in the womens inter club finals conducted by the Colombo District Basketball Assocation played at the Depot Police courts. The winners led 29-24 at the half.

Roshani Fernando scored 20 points for Otters and was picked as the most outstanding player and was supported by Monika Fernando 15, Ann Vithanage and Thushani Kodituwakku 10 points each.

Chandima a product from Kegalle excelled for Air Force with 18 points supported by Miskin 14 and Priyangani 10. The mens final was a rousing affair with both AirForce and Army being 50 points each with the champions being decided in extra time with Air Force emerging winners by 61 points to 59, after leading 33/27 at the half.

Shanthan Kunaharan the former Michaelman Player from Batticaloa was fittingly awarded the Rev Father E.J.Hubert SJ trophy as the most outstanding player. Shanthan scored 20 points for the Air Force while Chandu 18, Asanka 12, Sunil 10 and Pushpakumar 24 , Dias 17 and Wije 14 scored for the Army. Mervin Rodrigo the Chief Executive Officer of United Breweries Lanka Limited and Mrs Rodrigo gave away the trophies.

Netball trials today

The third trial to pick the Junior Netball Pool conducted by the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka will be held at the Sports Ministry grounds, Race Course on Sunday, August 29 at 9 a.m.

Players selected in the second round and those who were unable to attend the trials due to the A/L examination could compete in this trial.

Umpires exam in Jaffna

The A.B.C. netball umpires examination will be held in Jaffna and Vavuniya after a long lapse conducted by the Netball Federation. The examination will be held in ten centres on Saturday August 28th.

Details have already been sent to the District Associations whom the candidates should contact them for further details.

Book on rugby

Rugby recorder Neil Wijeratne will release his new book "Rugby Across the Straits" at a launching ceremony on September 1 at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, Independence Square in Colombo commencing 4.15 p.m.

The book refers to rugby links between India and Sri Lanka of which little or nothing has been said and written until now. Wijeratne is the author of several books on cricket, athletics and rugby.

The Indian team has been invited to grace the book launching ceremony.

CT & FC meet on October 30/31

The 38th Senior and 27th Junior annual athletic championships of CT&FC will be held on Saturday and Sunday October 30 at the Sports Ministry grounds at the Race Course from 8 a.m.

The championships will be worked off in six age groups, under 11,13,15,17 and 19 for both boys and girls. Entries will close with the Meet Manager Cdr. Jayanath Colombage at 606/1, Gamanedapara, Katunayake, 11450 or on telephone 431615, 03133683.

Three matches for decision today

Ten teams will battle it out for supremacy in the 2nd Singer Inter Club Hockey Championships conducted by the Sri Lanka Hockey Federation, commencing this weekend.

Three matches are down for decision this Sunday, the matches being, Galle Vs Air Force at Galle, CH&FC Vs CR&FC at Maitland Crescent and Kandy Vs Malwatta SC at the Peradeniya University Grounds.

The club participating and their groupings are:

Group A - Air Force, Police, CR&FC, CH&FC, Galle. Group B - Park SC, Malwatta SC, Army, Navy and Kandy.

Chess Nationals tomorrow.

The Sri Lanka major division Chess Nationals will be held in Kandy and Colombo on Monday August 30.

The Zonal Championships will be held at Presidents College Rajagiriya and Vidyartha Kandy. All players should report to the venues by 2 p.m. All players with a Sri Lankan ranking of 140 and above are eligible to participate in the Nationals.

Further details could be had from the Secretary Thiwanka Tissera on 929061.

Entries close on August 30 at 2 p.m. The Nationals is conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka.

Putting Lanka on the Team Sailing map

Sri Lanka was the only Asian country to be represented at the International Sailing Federation's World Team Racing Championships held in Ireland last month. This is the premier international team sailing event, and is held once in two years in different sailing nations. 18 teams participated in the event from countries including Australia, Canada, The Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and USA.

The race format is such that two teams are matched against each other, each team sailing in three identical dinghies and racing over short courses of about 10 minutes in duration. The team members must use their boat handling skills, individual racing skills and knowledge of racing tactics to put their boats into a winning combination of places.

The ISAF gold medal was won by New Zealand, the silver medal by USA and bronze by Great Britain.

The Sri Lankan's were fortunate to gain this type of exposure, in the team version of sailing that is very new to this country, thanks to local sponsors who came forward to fund the tour. After initial difficulty with handling the unfamiliar boats and conditions, the team came back strongly with some good racing over the latter half of the competition, and did well to beat Switzerland, one of the more established sailing nations, and put up noteworthy performances against France and South Africa. In recognition of the team's performance as a newcomer to team racing, the International Sailing Federation honoured the Sri Lankans with the event's Merit Cup.

The team comprised Anil Gunawardana (team Captain) from Metropolitan Communications Ltd., Michelle Gunawardana (National Development Bank), W P K Janaka and W N D Bandara from the Sri Lanka Navy, Jeremy Bolling (Eagle Insurance), Devaka Balasuriya (Asian International School), reserves, L K P Gunatilleke and W A Upul (Sri Lanka Navy), and manager, Asitha Tennekoon.

Team Captain, Anil Gunawardana said, 'participating in the ISAF Worlds and Sailing against the best in the world, was a fantastic learning experience for us, and a step forward for the sport in this country. It was also an achievement for Sri Lanka to receive recognition from the world sailing body.

We are very keen to promote the sport in Sri Lanka as we have ideal conditions for sailing, with warm weather and water all year round.

'We are very grateful to all our sponsors, especially Helly Hansen, Penguin Sportswear and Favourite Garments for the wet weather gear, and our principal sponsors, Ceylon Tobacco Company, Dynacom Engineering Trunking, API Trades, and Lyons Teas of Ireland, for their support'.

That Davis Cup Cliffhanger of 1939

To the thousands of tennis fans, who were entering the Merion Cricket Club courts that Labour Day of 1939, it all seemed unreal. Overhead the sun shone brightly and flags fluttered boldly against a blue sky. But big black posters shattered the holiday mood with their news from the other side of the world. "Germany Overruns Poland" and "Athenia sunk by U- Boat," screamed the headlines. It was the 4th of September and just three days after a maniac by the name of Hitler had launched his bid for world dictatorship. But Europe was a long way off.

On the court below, another battle was to unfold. A battle that would go down in Davis Cup history as the finest rearguard action to be ever fought. It was a moment of great emotion. because this might have been the last Davis Cup tie ever to be played. It was certainly going to be the last for many years to come. The minds of many spectators flew back to the Challenge Round of 1914, played on the eve of World War 1 in nearby Pittsburgh, when a combined Australia, New Zealand team beat Germany. Would history repeat itself? In fact upto that time, Australia had never won the Cup alone. But a challenge by the Australians meant the same thing to the Americans and many feared that the Cup would go Down Under for the duration of the war. To do this the Australians had a mighty hurdle to overcome. On the first day of the tie, they had lost the first two singles sets. John Bromwich lost to Bobby Riggs in three sets and Adrian Quist to Frank Parker in five.

Upto that date, no country had ever won a Challenge round from 0-2 down. But Sunday, September the 3rd was the day that England and the Commonwealth declared war on Hilter. It was the day that Bromwich and Quist were also to declare war. Playing the vitals double they beat Jack Kramer and Joe Hunt in straight sets to keep Australia's hopes alive.

But still the Americans were the favourites. Bromwich had been overcome by nerves in the first singles but was given a slight chance against Parker. But nobody gave Quist a chance against Riggs. Two months earlier, Riggs had made a clean sweep of Wimbledon. He had won the men's singles, the men's double with Elwood Cooke and the mixed doubles with Alice Marble. He now strolled out with the air -if not the height - of Goliath to slay the Antopodes' David. And when Quist quickly dropped his service to trail 0-1, it looked not a case of who will win, but how long the slaughter would last. On the first point of the second game, Riggs sauntered in behind a shallow serve only to be passed down the forehand line. Next point Quist swung a backhand return across the court and Riggs could barely get his racquet to it. Another blistering return and Riggs stood nonplussed in mid court. In half an hour Quist had won the first set and raced to a 4 -0 lead in the second. For ten games the Wimbledon champion had been held scoreless.

But the Wimbledon champion crept from 0-4 to 3-4 before Quist found his golden touch again, smashed four consecutive winners to take the game and lead two sets to love. With the scores level, Quist had a bad fall and before he could recover, Riggs had won the third set 6-3. In the fourth, Quist was showing signs of exhaustion because he had been on the courts for three consecutive days. But he managed to hang on to reach 3 all, but Riggs increased the pressure to take the three games and level the series at two all.

For Australia it was now or never. And Quist shaking off his tiredness, raced to 5-1 with another of his inspired spells. But Riggs was not finished yet. He fought back to 5-4, saving one match point in the process. But Quist was not to be denied his hour of glory. With three passing shots and a placement volley, he held his service for set and match to square the tie two rubbers all.

Now everything depended on Bromwich and the ambidextrous Australian did not waste too much time and energy. Wrong footing Parker time and time again, with disguised double-handed backhands he raced to win the match 6-0, 6-3, -6-1 and win the Cup for Australia.

The Press lavished praise on both Australians. But Quist was the real hero. Because not only had he to overcome Riggs, but also the chronic Asthma that had plagued him from childhood.

- Bruce Maurice

NCC pool - a boost to aqua sport . . .

By Bernie Wijesekera

Nondescripts C.C. the 111-year-old club, with a historic cricketing background has created another milestone with their swimming pool project - mooted by their immediate past president Chanaka de Silva becoming a reality. It will be ceremonially declared open by the end of next month (September 99).

The Sunday Times had an interview with its president, Leslie Hewage for his comments and those who helped to build it and give further muscle to aqua sport.

Firstly, I must state it was the brainchild of the immediate past president, former Royalist sportsman, Chanaka de Silva, who led from the front along with Elmo de Silva.

Elmo de Silva, the vice-president, the well known architect, who is the head of the Kahawita De Silva Associates, handled this project with his professional skills. Of course, others too helped towards its end. But it was Chanaka and Elmo that made it a possibility, thanks to their unstinted personal efforts.

Q- How did the club manage to get the funds?

A- Chanaka de Silva with his business acumen and know-how supported by the membership, who ungrudgingly helped. If I could put in a nutshell it was a superb team effort.

Special mention must be made - a bouquet to the Club Secretary Fazil Dole who made a personal sacrifice of his precious time for its supervision. He left no stone unturned and was on the ball all the time, Hewage observed.

Hewage, said this pool will also help boost aqua sport in the country and will cater to the needs of the young prospects. Julian Bolling, the internationally famed swimmer of yesteryear will handle some of his classes here. Of course others, too will be willing to make use of it.

Already there is a big demand for new membership. But it will be restricted as we don't want the water to overflow. It has to be a calm and quiet abode for them to relax and enjoy, Hewage added.

In all probability it will be opened by the third week of Sept. '99 amid pomp and pageantry.

The funds accrued from this project, will be diverted for further re-development he added.

NCC - is a Club with a tradition of a glorious past for cricket, when they dominated the local cricket scene in the postwar era. Players of the calibre of Malcolm Spittel, Robert Fernando, Vernon Prins, Dr.H.I.K. Fernando, Clive Inman, Stanley Jayasinghe, Malclom Francke, K.M.T. Perera, Naina Marikar, Ranjit Fernando, the Obeysekera twins, Carl and Valentine, Rienzie Perera, Mike Tissera, Vijaya Malalasekera, Ronnie Reid, S.Shamuganathan, Amerasiri Gunasena, Cuthbert Pereira, C.Chellaras, latterly Rumesh Ratnayake, Ranjan Madugalle, Amal Silva, David Heyn, Annesly de Silva, Asoka de Silva - at present Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillekeratne, Russel Arnold, etc., where some of them who have done yeoman service for the Club and for the country.

The past is memory. But when history is written, one has to take account of the past and NCC had a proud record of maintaining a high standard of sportsmanship on and off the field. The name itself is non- classified. There was no caste, race or colour and the Club never believed in school ties.

With the construction of the pool, NCC, will be able to produce champion swimmers for the future too.

The Umpires and their decisions

Umpires from the sub-continent have been the object of ridicule for years. The impression given by the touring teams has often been absurd to say the least when discussing the merits of the men in white coats from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka "The assassin" or "Butcher" have been some unpleasant references to these officials who can make or break a game with one decision. Just the way David Shepherd handed out one decision in the semi-final of the World Cup.

South Africa was struggling and Hansie Cronje had just entered the crease. It was a perfect delivery from Shane Warne, turning viciously and baffling the batsmen. The ball curled past the bat, missing the edge.

An appeal went up, and Shepherd upheld, leaving the batsman devastated. He probably went by the reactions of the fielders ignoring the instinctive reaction of the batsman who never followed the course of the ball. Those who nick generally look back immediately to know their fate. Cronje had distinctly not.

Cronje was stunned, but did little than take a walk. The Umpire looked convinced even though the television replay narrated a different story. The South African skipper had been done in by Shephered. That was his first blunder and quite a crucial one, considering the stage at which it happened.

The next one came in the final. Once again he failed to detect the ball missing the edge of the bat. This time it was Inzamam-Ul Haq who suffered and once again it happened to be an error which meant a lot to the team which was affected. Unlike the first blunder, this was glaring because of the gap between the ball and the bat. "I would have driven through it," Geoff Boycott remarked.

Compare this with the mistake, if one could call it, that Javed Akhtar committed in the India-England crucial league phase match. In the case of Akhtar, it was a judgement only he could have made because he happened to be in the best of position.

To declare Graham Thorpe leg before to Javagal Srinath at that moment of the game required the umpire to be brave.

After all, it was going to push the home team into a tight corner and the angled delivery, from the edge of crease, might not have merited a leg before decision. That is what most of the "Experts" noted.

Akhtar, his competence or otherwise not being the subject of debate here, did what he thought was best at that stage. Just as Shepherd was to do in the matches later. So why was the Pakistani official removed from the panel of International Umpires in such a hurry? Was it because that International cricket council discovered that he was indeed poor or because of the fact that the decision made had an impact on the host's chances.

Akhtar, was conspicuous by his absence in the super six in what was seen as a clear punishment for having dealt a blow to England's chances. For a leg before decision, there could be different arguments, for and against but no one, including the T.V. cameras, is in a better position to judge than the umpire.

There is no doubt that an umpire has a most demanding assignment in international cricket today. Every mistake of his is recorded and magnified for the benefit of the viewers, without realising the impact it can have on his confidence and more importantly - his integrity.

A man of Dickie Bird's stature made errors in the closing stages of his career, but then he had earned enough regard from the players to get away. Akhtar did not enjoy that privilege.

Talking of Bird, it is said that he was never comfortably with bat pad decisions. But he was consistent in turning down appeals from both the teams, just as Shepered would deal with leg before decisions.

Players target umpires once they know they are vulnerable under constant pressure. Appeals come from all quarters, at times even mid-off and mid-on demanding a leg before. Shephered may have been too professional to fall in that trap, but then the organizers should accept the fact that he was, when picked, not the best man for the job.

The best in the world, Steve Buknor, was correctly appointed for the final. Bucknor is accepted universally as the best and the good thing about him is that players like him. He readily accepts a mistake if he makes one.

S. Venkatraghavan was ICC's first choice for the final and his appointment was officially made. But because of the sensitive issue (Pakistan was one of the teams in the final) he was not keen to stand and ICC accepted it.

Whatever the case, the international cricket council has not been consistent in assessing the competence of the umpires the world over. One fails to understand why make it mandatory for the respective Boards to appoint an umpire if there is not an efficient man available?

It would not be a bad idea if the ICC cuts down the number of umpires in the international panel for the sake of quality. If there is no good umpire in Pakistan, let not the respective boards recommend any name to the ICC. The onus here lies with the board and not with the ICC which cannot scout for umpires on its own. If England has eight good umpires, let them all be listed in the panel.

But once the umpire joins the panel, it should be the duty of ICC to review his performances regularly and give him postings accordingly.

An umpire should not be judged by the television replays which create experts in millions of drawing rooms all over the world. The board should take the first step by recommending only those who make lesser mistakes to aviod regular recurrence of decisions which could transform the course of a match. It is high time the ICC introduced a code of performance, followed by regular and impartial assessment, of all umpires on the international panel.

- Ramesh Joseph

BCCSL may claim damages

By Bernie Wijesekera

It's reliably understood that the BCCSL, is to claim damages against a leading Airline Company for baggage mishandling of the Sri Lanka 'A' team during their flight from Copenhagen to London.

Put aside a day's play which was lost as a result, but great inconvenience was caused to the team and mental stress.

According to some members of the tour party it was revealed that after half hour from of the take-off from Copenhagen, an announcement was made that the plane was returning to Copenhagen due to a technical fault.

When it landed in Copenhagen the members of the team witnessed ambulances and fire-engines were there in readiness for action in case of an accident.

After a brief check-up a further announcement was made informing the passengers to disembark and remain in the lounge. The players had to wait for four hours at Copenhagen for another connecting flight.

After all the agony they were told at the Heather Airport that the luggage has not been loaded. Even after a couple of hours of awaiting for the following flight, the baggage never arrived.

After this incident the sleepy players eventually reached the hotel only after midnight. The baggage that was promised early in the morning to the airport and to be delivered to the grounds never arrived. To their dismay it only reached at 5 p.m.

As a result a day's play was lost. Considerable inconvenience was caused to the players and to the wellwishers, who were there to receive the Lanka team at the airport. It was also a great disappointment to the fans who were at the grounds to witness this match against the Sauce County (Worcestershire). It was a financial loss to Worcestershire County C.C. by way of gate money.

Despite all this agony the Lankans were robbed of a possible victory over the county. Chasing 217 runs for victory the Lankan openers T. M. Dilshan the most consistent batsman on the tour 51 n.o., along with Russel Arnold 28 n.o, put on 84 for no loss. Besides being deprived of a day's play, it was also marred by rain.

The Manager of the tour party Stanley Jayasinghe, when contacted by The Sunday Times for his comments said. 'Its has been handed over to the lawyers in London to take necessary action'.

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