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17th October 1999

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The perfect cricketer

Cricket - With Ranil Abeynike

In a recent issue of the Wisden Cricket Monthly, former South African Coach Bob Woolmer attempted to create the perfect cricketer. Of course should such a cricketer be born, he would turn out to be an amazing allrounder. Presumably, the nearest to that, what the world has seen, is the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers.

The importance of this exercise is the discussion of player strengths which has had a special effect on their performance. "From the feet up" is the way the check list goes.

The feet should be tough and fast. In the case of batting geniuses, nimble. Sachin Tendulkiar, Aravinda de Silva fall in the batting category. Some pace bowlers who have suffered foot injury problems are Alan Donald, Chaminda Vaas, Darren Gough, Shaun Pollock. Perhaps playing barefoot as kids would have helped to stregthen the feet at young age. Javagal Srinath, Wasim Akram and Pramodaya Wickramasinghe are names that come to mind.

The calves need to be powerful to perfect in all departments of springing around the field and quick turning and pivoting require strength in that area. Lance Kluesner and Michael Bevan, possibly the two fastest men over 100 meters and perhaps two of the best runners and turners between wickets, suggest they have the ideal calves.

Knees and thighs. Bob Woolmer reckons that the two should combine because the thighs need to be well developed to keep the knees in good shape. In the case of hamstrings, suppleness is a key factor. Woolmer talks of Alan Donald's hamstring suppleness. In a test for hamstring stretch, Donald can apparently go 24 centimetres past his feet! That's elastic!! Brilliant fielders, Jhonty Rhodes and Ricky Ponting spring off in every direction as the knees and thighs have the strength to carry their bodies with ease.

Stomach and back also go together as a weakness in one could cause injury to the other. These days players work very hard with weights and hours of exercise to strengthen these areas of the anatomy as they mean so much to their careers. Woolmer singles out his own Kluesner, who he reckons has natural strength and suppleness from humping sugar cane on the farm.

The shoulders and forearms are vital for areas for both batsmen and bowlers. Viv Richards had steely arms and forearms which helped dispatch the ball around the park. Again, players work hard at strengthening arms and shoulder to gain the extra advantage, should they not be blessed with it naturally.

Wrists and hands. Here a definite combination is needed - strength and suppleness. This applies to the fingers as well. The dexterity to ease the ball into gaps with supple wrists is largely the property of the subcontinent. Saeed Anwer, Sachin Tendulkar, Aravinda de Silva, to name a few. Mark Waugh can intrude into that ccategory.

For sheer strength in wrist and arm play there is no better example than Sanath Jayasuriya, for the spinners the fingers and wrists of Muthiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Saqlain Mushtaq would rank amongst the best of all time. Glen McGrath, Shaun Pollock and Wasim Akram are all masters at keeping the seam upright with a near perfect wrist position.

The neck.Look no further than Kallis (rugby prop strength), Shoeb Akhtar (natural), Tendulkar (the suppleness of the subcontinent), a divine mixture. It goes unnoticed, perhaps unfelt, but the neck takes a fair beating during a day's cricket.

The brain - Oh so important. not from a brain surgeons point of view or that of neuro specialist, but from a cricketing point of view individual attributes of character and intelligence play a vital role. Throw guts and determination- which is all in the mind - then that is a sound cricketing brain. Steve Waugh, Hansie Cronje, Arjuna Ranatunge, Sachin Tendulkar, Mike Atherton, Aravinda de Silva are the current players who stand out.

So, these physical and mental features add up to create the perfect cricketer. Should the Americans be able to clone such a being the cricketing nations will no doubt be looking to invest in a few.

The Ashes series crowned 1953

By Bruce Maurice

When Australia went into this Test, they took a serious risk by not going into it with a spinner and so they were caught up in it due to their own stupidity.

From the very start of the tour, Hassett persisted with Hill, but as the tour went on, Hill got faster and faster, until he was bowling at almost medium pace. Hassett practically ignored Benaud, who was eager to bowl but was denied the long spells that a bowler of his type needs. But fortunately Bill Johnston was passed fit.

At 11.20 B.S.T August 15 Hassett won the toss for the fifth time running and elected to bat. At 11. 30 Bedser ran in from the Vauxhall End to bowl the first ball to Hassett. Hassett turned the second ball past the leg trap for four the next for a single. A few minutes later, a thunderous roar broke out. It was for Fred Trueman who was being hailed in some quaters as England's answer to Lindwall and Miller. Hassett scored a single off the very first ball that Trueman sent down in an England Australia Test and then his second ball lifted menacingly to Morris.

After five overs he was replaced by Bailey. Bedser's eighth over brought disaster for Australia. Once again Bedser had claimed his 'Bunny' and Morris was out for 16. Miller who was next in, had to face the last ball of the over and then he had to face Bailey. The crowd relished the situation and were quick to remember that at Headingly a fortnight earlier, Miller has made no attempt to disguise his want of tolerance for or even his total disgust of Trevor Bailey. And so the crowd was all pent up by the situation which brought together with daggers drawn these two protagonists of their respective countries.

The atmosphere was almost electric as Bailey send down each ball and Miller kept it out of his wicket. As the last ball of the over was delivered, Bailey let go a terrifying roar as the ball hit Miller on the pads. Australia became 41 for 2. Miller LBW to Bailey for 1. But with Hassett playing the anchor role at the other end there was still hope that Australia will make a big score, especially if Harvey got going. At lunch it was 98 for two. But at 107 they lost their third wicket when Hasset was dismissed by Bedser. That was a terrible blow for Australia, but worse was in store. Harvey tried his favourite pull shot off Trueman and was caught by Hutton for 26. 4 wickets down for 107. England right on top and Hole and De Courcy, two of the younger to restore Australia. But De Courcy was caught by Evans off Trueman for 5 and a shortwhile later Hole also went the same way. Both batsmen were out flashing at balls outside the off stump without getting behind the ball. Six down for150 but all hope has not yet gone. Ron Archer and Alan Davidson were now together. Archer supremely defiant and contemptuous of Bedser and Trueman, began to hit out. At the start he was a little bit shaky, but then settled down with the idea of belting the attack. Once again the runs began to come but then Bdser caught and bowled Archer and seven wickets were down. Lindwall joined Davidson and just as they were about to put on a stand, Davidson was caught by Edrich off Laker for 22. Lindwall's partner was now Gill Langley and he began to chase the runs. But after making 18 Langley was caught by Lock, and in came Australia's last batsman Bill Johnstone. Lindwall now knowing that it was now only a matter of time, began to carve the English attack, While Johnson held his end up, Lindwall raced to 62 and Australia's top score before he was last out, caught by Evans off Trueman. Johnson was not out 9 and Australia were all out for 275. It was certainly not a big score, but infinitely better than the 7 for 160 which not long before showed on the board. Of the England bowlers, Fred Trueman finished with the best figures of 4 for 86.

England began her innings at twelve minutes past six, with Lindwall bowling the first over to Hutton around whom was set the menacing 'Carmody' field. The fifth ball of the over lifted from a good length and knocked Hutton's cap off, while the ball fell just short of Morris in the gulley. Miller opened from the pavilion end and Edrich started England's score moving with a single. But that was the last over to be bowled for the day with England 274 behind Australia and all wickets intact.

Monday, the 17th of August, was a lovely day, the Oval packed and the gates were closed at 11.10. The great battle between Lindwall and Hutton was resumed and in his second over, Hutton almost played on. In his fifth over, he hit Edrich on the pads and it just missed the off stump. This completely un-settled Edrich. Because he shuffled across his wicket to the very next ball and was caught plumb in front. Edrich out for 21 and England has lost her first wicket. England's 50 came up in an hour and at lunch they were 89 for1 and set for a big score.

But with the total at 137, May was ct. Archer. B. Johnston and Compton joined Hutton. But soon after Hutton was bowled by Johnson for 82 and England's hopes of a big score was rapidly diminishing. Soon after tea, Compton was caught by Langley off Lindwa for 16 and Gravenel was caught by Miller off Lindwall for 4. That made the England score 170 for 5 and their castles of dreams crashing down. But Evans and Bailey put on 40 valuable runs before Evans was run out for 28 and at the close they were 235 for 7.

When play resumed on the third day, Bailey 35 and Lock 4 were the not out batsmen. Miller opened the attack but after only 4 overs was taken off, to make way for Bill Johnstone. However, in his second over, Lindwall had Lock caught by Davidson for 4 and with the score at 237 for 8, the question now was how close would England get to the Australian total. Taking into consideration that Australia would have to bat last, on a wicket that was now crumbling, it was essential that England should get at least a lead of 150. So at this stage, England were in the black and the Australians jubilant. But this was where the real spirit of England glowed magnificently. Young Fred Trueman and Trevor Bailey got their heads down with the odds stacked heavily against them. And what a job they did? They put on 25 runs before Johnstone got Trueman for 10 and the spotlight was now on Alec Bedser. Here he was, essentially a bowler now called upon to fill the breach when runs were desperately needed. Then with England needing only 3 runs to equal the Australian score, he drove Johnson past mid off, and the excited crowd broke the sound barrier as they ran four and took England into the lead. They finally finished with a lead of 31, before Bailey was bowled by Archer for 64, and Bedser was left not out 22.

Many were the queries raised at lunch time. Johnson had slowed down and was getting turn out of the wicket. Would Lock and Laker get the same turn? Would the Australians dig in and wait for the runs to come? It was all speculation. But in cricket no one could tell with certainty what would or would not happen.

India has a dynamic coach in Kapil Dev

By Bernie Wijesekera

Former India's legendary Captain Ajit Wadekar, was here recently for the inauguration of the Janashakthi sponsored book - 'Heritage of Sri Lanka cricket', compiled by S. S. Perera. Wadekar was interviewed by The Sunday Times pertaining to Indian cricket and its future. The new coach Dev Kapil Devis a dynamic leader. He has many firsts in his trail-blazing career, when he led India from the front to win the World Cup defeating the West Indies at Lords in 1983 by 43 runs. Kapil had a big hand for its success.

Q - What do you mean by making these comments that India will come back to its own, Kapil as coach?

A - He himself is a dedicated cricketer who is committed to the game and stresses much on fitness and discipline. This was one reason why he was able to play a long innings in the international scene. Imagine a haul of 434 wickets, one of the finest all-rounders in the game, in the company of Richard Hadlee - a legend from New Zealand. Dev broke Hadlee's Test bowling record. Dev believes in fitness, which is something the present Indian cricket lacks. This was one reason why the Indian fielding has dropped somewhat Wadekar, added. Kapil will instil on this all important ingredient, which is the cornerstone to success.

Q - Is Kapil on a long term contract?

A - Yes. He will be on a two year contract. He took over from Srikanth for New Zealand.

This tour is now in progress. I am confident that he will deliver the goods and the young aspirants will strive to emulate his qualities on and off the field.

India is sure to return to its glory days of 1983 when Dev steered India to a sensational upset in World Cup history when the Indians dethroned West Indies at Lord's. Until 1983. India was rated as underdogs in the one-day game. But it was Dev, as leader and with his exploits with the cherry and the willow, that created a new dimension. The Indians were struggling with five wickets down against Zimbabwe then Dev strode into score a masterly 175 n.o. at Tunbridge Wells, steered India to victory and for the w. C. crown.

India became the first country to suffer a defeat at the hands of an associate member nation - Sri Lanka - in 1979. India was noted for its slow batting. But Kapil made an impact with his big hitting against Zimbabwe - 175 n. o. This he made when India was struggling at 5 for 17 which speaks well for his courage and determination.

Wadekar said, today India has many batsmen of class. Times have changed! In the class of little master Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Ravid, Ajay Jadeja, S. Ganguly, India boasts of some of the best in the world today. Jadeja smashed an unbeaten 103 off 102 balls against Sri Lanka. While Dravid and Ganguly did likewise against Sri Lanka in an earlier match with 100s. Their partnership of 336 was the highest in the overs game for any wicket.

Q - Any comments about Sri Lanka cricket, as you have been here regularly, be it cricket or otherwise?

A - You are right. Well, I have many friends and have enjoyed their hospitality. For my wife and me its our second home.

There are ups and downs in life. One has to face them courageously. This is what Sri Lanka cricket had to face in recent times. It's nice to see them staging a comeback with a revamped side. The Lankans have done exceptionally well by winning the one-day traingular series and the test series one-nil against Australia, under Sanath Jayasuriya. The return of Dav Whatmore as coach should inspire them for a better future. It's good to have a coach to work on a long term programme, Wadekar observed.

Incidentally Kapil Dev led the Indians in 1985 to Sri Lanka - a tour raged by controversies. Sri Lanka beat the Indians for the first time at the 'Sara' Stadium.

At the Asgiriya Stadium Test, Indian opener Sri Kanth was ruled out twice in one ball. Sri Kanth, in full cry was ruled out leg before when a ball was going away from the leg stump. He moved away, looked up to the heavens. A close-in fielder picked up the ball and broke the stumps. The leg umpire gave him run out. This in turn stirred a hornet's nest among the local and Indian media.

Thomian cagers open new leaf

By Ravi Nagahawatte

Basketball was never a sport which drew the interest of the students of S.Thomas' College Mount Lavinia till their senior team rallied to bag two titles this year. Just like the beginnings of cricket and rugby the Thomian cagers unfolded a new leaf in their own basketball history when they clinched the National School's games Basketball event and the Under 19 'Andec Cup' Under 19 School's Basketball Tournament .

Their quest for getting some kind of recognition in the basketball circles began with an enterprising 63-36 win over St.Sebastian's College Moratuwa in the 'Andec Cup' before they crowned themselves with the National School games title by beating St.Anthony's Katugastota 91-66.

And what holds in good stead for the school is that most of the players of this winning team can represent the school for another year.

The captain of the team Ashan Muthuthanthri (17) speaking to the "Sunday Times" said that finding players was the toughest hurdle that was cleared during the season .

"We had to visit classrooms and recruit players . The interest for basketball was just not there. The daily turnout for practices was about fifteen which was not sufficient.

However we practiced really hard for about a month before the two tournaments and finally won " said the Thomian skipper who added that this win should now help to create an interest in basketball among the school's students .

Asela Dassanayake (16) said that most of the players had to cut classes to be in the basketball court in time for practices . " I hope that now the interest for basketball will build up in our school " opined Asela who had also gone to the United States of America for a scholarship in basketball.

"Basketball is about the most popular sport in America. The interest there is so much that every garage has a hoop. The sport is even played on the streets unlike here where cricket is the craze" reflected Dassanayake.

He also opined that though the sport does not give much opportunities to players ,financially , it should be promoted as a sport and no money should be put into it.

The team is coached by Ajith Kuruppu.

Cracks appear in Asian solidarity

As Asia continues to head towards a boycott of the 2002 World Cup - the first to be held on the continent's soil - the first voices of dissent have been raised by concerned members of the Asian Football Confederation.

Malaysia and China have both publicly declared their doubts over the wisdom of the withdrawal from the tournament in anger at FIFA's allocation of just two-and-a-half places to Asia, in addition to the two automatic qualifying berths given to co-hosts Japan and Korea.

The Malaysians were the first to break rank from within the AFC, who have said they will boycott the competition should FIFA fail to bow to their demands of additional places in 2002.

"We will not agree to the boycott", Prince Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the deputy president of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper in Kuala Lumpur.

"While FAM supports the quest for a fifth berth, we feel that an amicable solution can be reached between the good offices of (the AFC) and FIFA said president Sepp Blatter.

"Our request for one more place is fair and, as such, both FIFA and the AFC are looking into ways to find a solution. If there can be co-hosts for the first time, it is also possible to give Asia five places instead of four".

Disappointed at the allocation, Asian delegates walked out in protest from FIFA's Extraordinary Congress in Los Angeles at the start of July, and since then the threat of a boycott has hung over world football.

If Asia boycotted the 2002 World Cup, it would not be the first time the AFC have withdrawn from the competition. In 1966 both the AFC and CAF pulled out of the World Cup in protest at the allocation of just one place between the two confederations at the England event. However, North Korea defied the boycott and went on to become Asia's most successful nation in the tournament's history, reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Portugal 5-3.

Blatter has already attempted to undermine the AFC by saying that the door to FIFA House "is still wide open to everyone, including the associations who are at present discontent with their lot". He also claimed, after the walk-out, that the national bodies could be held responsible for their action in the USA.

"There will be action against the national associations who have taken action with no explanation", said Blatter in Los Angeles. "When you're in a family you do not leave the table before dinner is served. We paid for their flights, their hotel and their food. Is it polite to react in this way?"

Zhang Jilong, of the Chinese Football Association, has been quoted as saying that it is unsuitable for China to "impatiently take a stand or state a position."

"We will watch the development of the situation," said Zhang, who is also a vice-president of the AFC and a member of the confederation's executive committee.The situation looks like coming to a head in Kuala Lumpur on October 10, when the AFC have scheduled an extraordinary congress so the full membership of the confederation can discuss the issue. Before then it is hoped the situation can be resolved in Zurich at a meeting of FIFA's executive committee at the beginning of October.

Estate worker, a celebrity runner

Manoharan bags the silver in the marathon at the SAF Games

By Ravi Nagahawatte

Twenty-nine-year old estate worker Meyappan Manoharan has become a celebrity in his village Ragala after exploits in the recently concluded South Asian Federation Games. Manoharan bagged the silver in the marathon event and returned an impressive timing of two hours and twenty three seconds to leave everyone in total dismay.

Little would have his hard working co-workers in St. Leonard's Estate think of Manoharan when he left with the Sri Lankan contingent to Nepal.

This was an international event and he had only just begun to scratch the surface of his pottential by winning a couple of district meets.

The only thing he won of any sygnificance was a marathon which was organised by a youth society with record timing of two hours and thirty minutes.

But Manoharan had had big hopes of bringing home a medal three months before the meet when the Sports Ministry granted him a sponsorship which gave him Rs 3000 a month. This spurred him on and when the days neared to the 'big'day Manoharan had his sights on placing somewhere in the championship.

"I told my team mate Sarath Gamage -the person who won the gold medal-that we must bring home a medal .

There were times in the race when I fell behind with a cramp in my leg . But the will to win a medal was more greater than the pain in my leg. I was determined to win a medal for my country . And I did it" said Manoharan recalling memories from this unforgetable moment in the sport.

Last Wednesday he and Gamage were felicitated by Nestle Lanka Private Limited for winning two medals for the country. The gala ceremony also had a surprise awaiting him. The company granted Rs 8000 for a month for his training . Words could not describe the joy in Manoharan's face when the announcement was made.

He probably did not see anything made of silver till he won this medal. This is not surprising for a man who has lived in the depths of poverty.

Manoharan is one of five boys in a family of fifteen . Most of his members worked in a tea estate and he too earned his daily bread and butter by working as a labourer. However poor, his parents gave him some education by sending him to two schools , St. Leonard's Vidyalaya and Ragala Tamil Vidyalaya.

Despite all the hard work that was needed for his job he somehow found the time and energy to train whether it required getting up at 5.30 a.m. in the morning.

"On most days I got up early in the morning and ran 25-35 kilometres for a day. Then by 8 am I went to work in the estate . In the evening I did jogging or light training . This was my schedule .

"There was no one to teach me" said manoharan who's training had depended on some rice and rotti till he was sponsored three months back. Today he has just enough money to buy some vitamins apart from buying three square meals a day.

His burning desire to run with the cream of the country's talent became a reality when he qualified for the National games in 1990 by placing eighth in a race organised by the Grama Sevaka Organisation .

Here Manoharan placed a disapointing 35th -the last in the race.

Then he was almost forced to give up running altogether due financial problems at home.

In 1993 manoharan appeared out of the blues and bagged the Nuwara Eliya District 10,000 metres event. From there he progressed in athletics using a hit and miss schedule till he met his present coach A.H.Ariyaratne this year.

"I went to him and told him to take me and coach me and with just twenty days of training from his schedule I bagged the marathon in the National Festival in Ibbagamuwa" said Manoharan who had trained without a coach for seven long years.

Doing power training with sophisticated weight training equipment might look alien to Manoharan .

The daily chores at the estate as a labourer and helping his father in the sand business saw him acquiring the physical power that was needed for athletics.

"Helping my father meant that I lifted 50 kilo sand bags and carrying it 200 metres to a truck which was used to transport the sand .

The path to the vehicle comprised of steepy climbs which was enough to give my legs a good workout . This was natural power training"he says.

Manoharan says that winning this medal would not have been possible if not for the special running shoes which the Sports ministry officials got him from Singapore.

"The shoes alone cost Rs 10,000".

The plea for new shoes came from Manoharan when he made a promise to Nuwara Eliya district minister Sathasivam that if given those he would win the SAF Games marathon.

Today everyone seems to be satisfied with what he has won.

The estate worker has come a long way since starting to run barefoot. He will not stop he says till competes in the Asian and World marathons.

New blood takes over Kurunegala

By Gerry Vaidyasekera

A meeting of cricketers and cricket lovers in Kurunegala District was held on February 7,1977 at the residence of Attorney S.L.M.Cassim, President, Kurunegala Sports Club, a popular pace bowler of Zahira College, Maradana.

At this meeting the Kurunegala District Cricket Association was formed. The late T.B.Werapitiya, Deputy Inspector General of Police, was elected President and myself as Secretary.

I informed the House that I had been advised by Mr. Nisal Senaratne, then Secretary of the Board, to form a District Cricket Association soon as to take part in the Inter-District Cricket Tournament to be held shortly by the Board.

Prior to this meeting and in the War Days, a meeting of cricket enthusiasts was held at the Kurunegala Town Hall to improve cricket in Kurunegala. The youngest Mayor then, the handsome Bertram Markus, Mayor of Kurunegala, presided.

Bertram, a stylish left-arm bowler was a member of the invincible Josephian team, that reigned as school cricket Champions in the early 1930's. He also hailed from a leading popular family in Kurunegala.

With his departure to Australia, where he died, the name Markus was lost for ever in Kurunegala. I presume that of those who took part at that meeting, I am the only one alive.

The departed souls, the lawyers of Kurunegala at that time were men of honour and richly maintained the dignity and glory of the ancient capital.

The newly formed Kurunegala District Cricket Association beat Chilaw District in the first encounter of the Inter-District Cricket Tournament but lost to Galle in the second match. With the President, Mr.T..B.Werapitiya, leaving for Kandy, the K.D.C.A. died an untimely death.

The late T.B.Werapitiya, though a high rank Police officer, was a humble gentleman and a genial person to work with. He was a stylish left hand batsman, who scored many hundreds in Kurunegala and regretted the grounds being taken over. When he was President of the Board of Control, he appointed the Secretary of the K.D.C.A. to the five man Committee of the Advisory Committee to the Board.

On the instructions of the Board of Control, M. Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, District Minister, summoned a meeting of all cricket lovers at his office on 13th October, 1983, and the new Kurunegala District Cricket Association was born. Messrs Nisal Senaratna and Daham Wimalasena of the Board were present.

The late Attorney Gerry Perera was elected as President; Mr.Hector Perera, the custodian of Kuliyapltiya Cricket and an All Ceylon Cricketer, as Treasurer and young Mr.Assam Hameed as his assistant and me as recorder.

The quartet, Mr. Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, a twin of the second pair of twins to play for Nalanda, Mr. Ariya Rekawa, youngest Mayor at that time and a member of St. Anne's Kurunegala and Law College cricket teams, my namesake the late Attorney Gerry Perera, a familiar figure at the Stadium Grounds, and the young Mr..Assem Hameed, the Thomian spin bowler, are the four, who laboured and toiled to build the Welagedera Stadium as it now stands.

The glory of cricket is proudly portrayed in this quartet, that though it embraced three leading faiths, yet they worked as brothers for the common good of cricket in Kurunegala.

All praise and glory to the four of them! The Stadium was named after the late Mr. D.B.Welagedra, who mooted this idea of a Stadium in Kurunegala, when he was M.P. for Kurunegala.

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