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14th November 1999

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The pool appeal

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Are trophies more important?

By Bernie Wijesekera

Despite big money and professionalism, cricket is still a gentleman's game. The spirit of the game and its traditions have to be preserved be it by the administration (clubs or otherwise) and the players alike.

Today, it has been corroded due to trophy hunting and the will to win at all cost. The postponed re-play between CCC and Sinha S.C. tarnished its image and stirred a hornet's nest. In the process table leaders Bloomfield and Colts CC protested. Ultimately after an inquiry justice prevailed and Bloomfield declared champions for 1998-99 season.

The replay was afforded by the present Interim Committee, on an appeal made by CCC, not realising the circular sent by the former tournament committee, that all matches had to be completed on schedule with no postponements whatsoever.

It was done in good faith by a senior official of the I.C. The replay between CCC and Sinha S.C. raised many an eyebrow in the end the way the match was played. Eventually CCC won handsomely and nudged out Bloomfield to emerge champions.

An inquiry was held by the Tournament Committee and its findings were sent to the disciplinary committee for its ruling. After much delay the CCC-Sinha S.C. replay was declared null and void.

Group Capt. Sriyan Samararatne, Chairman T.C. was contacted by The Sunday Times. Samararatne, agreed that it was a sad spectacle which could have being avoided if it was played on the scheduled date as governed by the earlier circular. At the inquiry lots of things came out.

Q- What action do you hope to take ?

A- It's upto the Ex-Co of the Interim Committee. I think for the sake of the future of the game we should close the chapter and see that it will not be repeated in the future, he added.

There will be no postponements whatsoever be it rain or sunshine. In other test playing nations the grounds, the umpires are known before the start of the season. They work to a plan and the tournaments progress smoothly even if a foreign tour is in progress. I agree with you. Now the past is forgotten and let's look forward for a better future, Sriyan added.

It was a fine gesture by the SSC hierarchy and its ground staff headed by Ranil Abeynaike in the Under - 23 final between SSC and Tamil Union, played at Maitland Place. The ground was inundated after a deluge. To the credit of the SSC they were more concerned with getting on with the game than winning or sharing the trophy if the match was abandoned. They got their act together even using the super sopper to drain out the water and the match got underway. In the end SSC lost the match, but the game was the winner. T.U. president S. Skandakumar, who was present at the venue, commended SSC curator, Ranil Abeynaike, for a job well done.

It went on to show that the game was more important than a trophy. This is what cricket is all about. This match was played over the last weekend. Others should take a leaf from the SSC.

A senior official of the I.C. endorsed the views made by Samararane. To put the game on a proper course the tournament committee has a lot of gardening to do. The present T.C. with Group Capt. Samararatne at its helm and his committee are committed to act without let or hindrance. In the coming season and for others to continue its good work for a better future.

Q- Are you aware that some clubs even agree to postpone their fixtures in the past with a view to watch their 'Big Match'?

I agree with you. A club team is not confined to only 11 players.

If any player wishes to watch his old school's Big Match, he could do so, but not by postponing the match ? I agree. The clubs should adhere to its principles the same source added.

The President of the Bloomfield C and A.C. Shelley Wickremasinghe when contacted had this to say:-

Q- Are trophies more important ?

A- I think so to make the game more competitive, for the players and spectator interest. But it has to be played in the correct spirit and not resort to win at all cost at the expense of the game, Shelley added.

This was evident in the postponed replay match against CCC and Sinha. I am not making these comments because my club was at the receiving end as a result. Had the tournament committee adhered to its rules as done in other countries and not entertaining postponements, this could have been avoided. There is no point in trying to win by rigging in any walk of life.

It isn't cricket? I agree with you, the game is more important than trophies, Wickremasinghe nodded.

Incidentally Shelley was vice-president to late Robert Senanayake during his tenure as President of the BCCSL.

Q- Always one must strive to win with grace ?

A - You are right. It's now all forgotten, but hope it will not be repeated in the future.

There was another incident where Bloomfield was involved with their deciding match against SSC, at Maitland Place, in the 1994-95 season. The match was evenly poised, with Bloomfielders staging a great fightback chasing a massive SSC total of 509 for 8 dec. The Reid Avenue Club were 420 for 6 when the game was called off after one mandatory over was bowled. A quite a vociferous crowd was watching and cheering their respective teams with the game poised for a tension packed finish.

Bloomfield were 222 for five overnight chasing this massive SSC total. The SSC bowlers toiled all day to capture the solitary wicket that of Ruwan Kalpage, after lunch. Bloomfield added 105 for the sixth wicket through Jayasuriya and Kalpage.

The pool appeal

By Channaka de Silva

The sight was shocking and heartbreaking. Nobody who visited S. Thomas' College in Mount Lavinia would have expected to see such a dilapidated structure inside those beautiful and grand surroundings.

But just an year and a half ago, the ramshackle swimming pool of the the College was in fact an eyesore and was barely fitting to be a part of, undoubtedly, the country's most privileged school.

Not only that the run-down condition was humiliating to the College's status but also was also a painful blow to the college's illustrious old boys among whom are Sri Lanka's high and mighty or simply said the rich and famous.

However, many of them a good lot of them out of Sri Lanka, bringing grace to the country did not know what really existed at their famous college of which they spoke with much pride and passion in their high associations. It was really a shame because had they known, things could have been much more different. Their college constituted a big part of the ego of every Thomian and the Imagelast thing they would want is to hear something bad about their school.

The condition of the pool was really alarming. The entire structure was sinking to earth. Huge cracks were appearing everywhere while the pool was tilted to a side. Cracks in the middle were gulping the water in huge quantities and the pool attendants had to fill it up every morning in order to maintain a constant water level.

The water was murky and was emanating a strong stench of chlorine.

Attendants said they did not have adequate cleaning equipment while the rickety pumping machine to circulate water was experiencing frequent breakdowns. In fact, the rusty old contraption housed in a building out side the pool could not be properly repaired as the company which made it or its spare parts had been extinct for a long time.

It was truly tragic. The pool was historic. It was the first ever modern swimming pool built in the country as far back as in 1934.

It was a gift from renowned headmaster of the college Dr. R.L. Hayman and was initially called the "bath" by the schoolboys.

It was the school's pride in the early days and formed an essential part of the school life of many Thomians.

Vijitha Fernando is a Thomian with his whole heart and soul while swimming was his passion. He was among the first Old Boys to spot the disaster and the need for quick remedial steps.

"We understood how serious the condition of the pool was and decided to do something beyond just alerting the authorities by making a plan to rebuild the pool." described Fernando the one time president of the Sri Lanka National Amateur Aquatic Sports Union, the governing body for aquatic sports in Sri Lanka.

An alarm was raised and the Old Boys got into action right away. A committee was set up to tackle the problem and naturally Fernando was heading it.

They made a plan and got an estimate done. For a refurbishment without much complicated modifications it came to Rs. six million. However it was later found out that the concrete under the tiling had to be re-done while the pumping plant also needed replacement.

Finally the cost escalated to Rs. 15 million.

The more serious part was to begin. That obviously was to raise money.

The Parents-Teacher Association also gave a helping hand with former Warden Neville de Alwis and the Old Boys were able to raise the necessary money in little time. The rapidity the money was raised was a testimony to the love the Old Boys had for their school.

But unfortunately the cruelty of fate was stubborn. Just when the work was about to begin, the Board of Governers of the school required that the raised money was handed over to them. OBA transferred the money accordingly.

However, a problem over the Warden appointee also came up and the pool work was somehow stalled.

It was a stalemate for two years. OBA which was interested in getting the pool back to the former glory did not have money, having handed the raised funds to the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors had money but were apparently not putting the work in hand, with any speed.

The last year, the Board of Governors invited representatives from the OBA to form a joint swimming pool committee. The OBA which was sick of the waiting game readily agreed.

But by then the bus had gone. The estimated cost of the project had spiralled by more than a double from Rs. 15 million to a whopping Rs. 32.9 million and another Rs 4.5 million for the tiers.

This was partly caused by the inflation and partly by the policy adopted by the Board of Governers to give tenders on a strictly business basis. This eliminated the Old Boys who were willing to provide their resources such as their know-how, equipment and even raw material free of charge. For example, an old boy was willing to provide his construction vehicles free of charge. But when a tender was given, the cost for such equipment by the person who is submitting the tender was also obviously added to the expenses.

Reputed International Construction Consortium (ICC) which won the contract began work in late 1997.

Now most of the project is completed with tiling half way done. The work completed is worth Rs. 13 million.

Once completed, this will only be the country's second pool of a length of 25 metres - the international standard length for the short pool championships meets. Till the NCC pool was opened two weeks ago, there wasn't a single pool of that length, which prevented Sri Lankans from taking part in international short pool meets.

Fernando who is a former World Bank officer and an American citizen is a perfectionist and wants the pool to be something the future Thomians can be proud of just as the former ones have been for the past 65 years. He no longer serves in the joint committee because he says the Board of Governers doesn't have a single person who knows the slightest thing about swimming pools. He still believes it was the Board Governers who delayed the project which was getting along smoothly. But being the true Thomian he spends his money and time constantly on the project.

However, the dream is not complete yet since the balance money amounting to nearly Rs. 20 million has yet to be raised. Getting money is not getting any easier according to Fernando. There is a message the college wants to send across to the Old Boys. That is to help the pool to its former glory because it means bringing glory back to the college as well.

P.Sivalingam passes away

Peethamparam Sivalingam fondly known as Siva and P. Siva in badminton circles passed away peacefully. He was a sportsman, a friend to all, a gentleman in every sense and a man of few words. Born in Malaysia, he received his initial education at Victoria Institute Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and later on at St. Joseph's College, Colombo, and University College, Colombo. As a Civil Engineer he was attached to the Public Works Department and then to Shell Company of Ceylon until his retirement. I have known him best as a sportsman. He was involved in a large number of sports and reached the national level in table tennis, badminton, lawn tennis and hockey, which not many sportsmen can boast of. However, Siva was best known as a dazzling player in badminton, who played intelligently and skillfully. Having hailed from Malaysia he had the knack which no other player did.

He excelled as a player, captain and official of the game. In 1949 the Ceylon squad led by P. Sivalingam, Raif Jansz, Sufiyan and Marzook Othman, Sam Schoorman and R. P. Nadarajah played a friendly tie with the Malaysian "Thomas Cup" team. Siva was the only player who triumphed defeating A. Samuel, Captain of the Malaysian players. This was indeed a great performance. Since then there was no looking back for Siva, as he went on to win many badminton titles and was the best player in Ceylon at the time.

His pioneering efforts are seen with the formation of the Badminton Association of Ceylon in September 1950, with late M/s N. M. De Silva, Arthur Chandrasena, Sufiyan and Marzook Othman and also M/s Basil P. De Silva, Dinker Mutukrishna and A. R. L. Wijesekera to name a few. In 1953 he was the first national champion and went on to win the triple crown at the inaugural championship. In 1954 he captained the first official team of Ceylon at the "Thomas Cup" championship against Pakistan in Colombo and in 1957 led the "Thomas Cup" team again against Japan in Colombo. He was the President of the Badminton Association of Ceylon from 1964 to 1971 and later on with the change of the name to Sri Lanka Badminton Association was the President from 1975 to 1978. On a few occasions as a youngster I remember him, for Siva and I lived down Fernando Road, Wellawatte. I was able to witness him play at the Cosmopolitan Sports Club which was also situated down Fernando Road. He was an unassuming, soft spoken person in addition to being a giant in badminton. He was very much older than I and my interest in the game was influenced to a great extent by him. I tried hard to emulate his skills and performance. He also played badminton for the Wellawatte Recreation Club at Moor Road, Wellawatte and the YMCA, Fort.

We in badminton circles will miss Siva. He helped a great deal to develop the game by imparting his knowledge, skills and experience to the younger generation. His name will certainly go down in the history of the game and the Badminton Association as a pioneer, promoter and pillar of the Sri Lanka Badminton Association.

On behalf of the Badminton Association of Sri Lanka I wish to convey our heart felt condolences to his wife Saradha and his daughters Shankari, Narayani, Ramana and son Anantha.

May he attain Nibbana!

Sam Chandrasena


Zahira honours Major Yoonoos

The Group of 90s of Zahira College,Colombo has organised an exhibition rugby match between Past and Present players which will be played on November 20 (Saturday) at the CR&FC Grounds, Longden Place starting at 4 p.m.

The event has been organised for the second successive year to honour Late Major Ifthikar Yoonoos, who was an outstanding Zahira rugby skipper who sacrificed his life in the battle front of Operation Jayasikuru.

The parents of the Late Major, Mr and Mrs. Jiffry Yoonoos will be the chief guests and Mrs. Ifthikar Yoonoos and family members of the Late Major will grace the occasion. Mr. S. Kumaraswamy will be the guest of honour.

M. M. K. Namiz will lead the Past players team. Outstanding rugby players of Zahira such as the Hamdoon brothers, Ibrahim Hamid, T. R. Boorah and M.J.M.Mushtaq are some of the players who will be turning out for the Past players team. The present Zahira team will be led by J. Hussain Wasiq.

Annual dinner

Meanwhile the Group of 90s of Zahira College Colombo has organised their annual dinner on November 19 (Friday) at the Abdul Ghaffoor Hall, Zahira College Colombo at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Zahira College office.

Wesley champions

Wesley beat St. Anthony's Kandy by 24 points to 12 to win the under 13 mini Rugby All Island Cup championships conducted by the Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association played at Nittawela sponsored by Milo.

In the semi finals, Wesley bt St. Sylvester's 12/7 and St. Anthony's bt Royal. In the Plate finals, Trinity bt Carey and the Bowl finals, Isipatana B bt Thurstan B 37-nil.

Queens Club Tennis

The Queens Club centenary celebrations open tennis championships will be held at its courts at Maitland Crescent from November 26 to December 5.

This tournament will be a B grade ranking tourney approved by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association.

Peter Amarasinghe will be the chairman of this tournament committee with Walter Dias as referee and Dr B.J.C. Perera as tournament physician. Events will be held for men's and women,s singles, mixed doubles, boys' and girls' under 18 singles and mens over 35, 45, 55 and 65 doubles.

Entries will close at the Gymkhana Club at Maitland Crescent or Queen's Club at Bauddhaloka Mawatha on Saturday, November 20th at 6 p.m. The draw will be held at the Gymkhana Club on Monday, November 22nd at 6 p.m.

Calling football coaches

The Playground Department of the Colombo Municipality will conduct the D licence course for football coaches on Saturday and Sunday, November 13 and 14th at Vystwyke Playground at Mutwal.

This course is conducted with approval from the Football Federation of Sri Lanka. This course will be conducted for the first time by the Playground Department.

M. Karuthu, the AFC Technical Adviser to the FFSL will conduct this course. This programme was approved by M.M. Rameez, the Secretary, Playgrounds who is a member of the Technical Committee of the FFSL.

Football is to be revived at the Playgrounds, and jerseys will be presented to the Playgrounds on this day.

Classic Sigiriya Rally '99

The Classic Car Club of Ceylon has organised a rally to Sigiriya for its members which is scheduled to be held on 20th, 21st and 22nd November '99.

Once again ICI Autocolour has come forward to be the main sponsor for this event. Sponsorship of events like this will encourage the owners of Classic cars to keep their cars in good condition as well as give an opportunity for car enthusiasts outside Colombo to see some rare classic cars.

The rally starts opposite the Art Gallery, Greenpath, Colombo 7 at 6 a.m. and will proceed to Sigiriya with a stopover at Kurunegala for breakfast.

This rally will feature approximately 50 Classic Cars most of which are run by motor enthusiasts, to name a few: Triumph TR3 1960; Lotus Elan 1962; Austin Healy 1964; Mercedes 190SL 1957; Plymouth Barracuda 1956.

This rally will serve as an endurance trial for the cars and the previous rallies have always generated considerable public interest, both along the route and at the final destination.

In addition to the rally which includes a compulsory stopover in Kurunegala town for the people to view these unique cars, there are several events of interests planned for 3 days during which these cars will be in Sigiriya.

There will also be a Dinner Dance sponsored by M/s 3M Lanka (Pvt) Ltd which will be known as the "3M Classic Dinner Dance '99" on the evening of 20th November '99.

Other Sponsors: M/s Klevenberg (Pvt) Ltd, Ceylon Brewery Ltd, 3M Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, MBC Network (Pvt) Ltd.

Trials and pleasures of an international tour

Thirty odd men involved with Sri Lankan cricket are currently sojourning Africa playing cricket under the flag of the country and 'A' team. There are many sides to the life and times of a touring cricketer. Most people run away with the idea that touring is a pleasurable pastime. It is not the real picture.

The anticipation for the players is always filled with an air of excitement. Of course a World Cup or a tour to England or Australia is surrounded with more interest. Most players complete their packing a day or two before the date of departure. Most of what goes in is cricket gear and clothing.

The best method is to write a check list well in advance so that nothing gets missed out. A seasoned player will remember most of it by heart. Young Upeka Fernando who left for South Africa as a substitute must have had many items to slot in at the last moment. When it's a sudden selection, the mind runs dizzy in getting ready to get on that flight.

What is paramount on a player's mind is to go out to the middle and perform. The most important part of the tour is to get acclimatized to the foreign conditions and pitches and then perform. This is easy to say but unless you have toured and played in different climatic conditions the difficulty will never be understood.

Locals are so thorough with home conditions. After all they have been born and bred on them.

These days with the amount of cricket being played from a young age means that the invader from overseas is handicapped by that much.

The warm-up games become so important therefore. Obstacle number one is getting used to the light. Sighting the ball early whether batting or fielding is vital. Plenty of time must be spent in the open during early days. For batsmen and bowlers it is a matter of adjusting to the way the ball behaves off the pitch. This is why a tour of Australia is so tough. The six major venues in that continent all have vastly different playing condition. That is also another reason why their domestic Sheffield Shield competition is so competitive and tough.

The biggest adjusment that an individual has to make is to keep to team times. Each one is used to their own times when it comes day to day living. Now it's team time. Most days begin with a hotel wake-up call, unless it is a rare total rest day. There is a time for breakfast, a time the team bus leaves, a time to warm-up, a time for team meetings, a time for official and unofficial functions and many more responsibilities that require absolute punctuality.

I must say I know of a few players who have missed the team bus and have had to catch a taxi !

Players do not get a lot of time off even on rest days. The physio in consultation with the tour management lines up a programme for them, depending on the workload of recent days. This ranges from organized net practice, to private net practice, to jogging and stretching, to gym work, to swimming. The body has to be fit and has to stay fit for the arduous demands of the matches.

The frustrations of a tour are injuries of any proportion and the separation from family and close friends. Each day offers the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, with different intriguing cultures. Some revel meeting people whilst others shy away.

The hotel rooms are often the best available. At times the ideal place to get away. But at times compulsory house arrest. The television, a book and your room mate - if he is around - are the room companions.

There is time to slot in some social engagements, play some other sports, do some sightseeing and shopping. That is the relaxing part of a tour.

Injury is the greatest source of mental torture. It is absolutely frustrating when the rest of the boys are out there playing to be spending time indoors. Every player wants to contribute to the team's effort. Professional sportsmen dread being injured.

Their entire future depends on staying fit and playing regularly.

A cricket tour is a busy and demanding time. Success means so much. Friendships are bonded and team spirit reaches great heights then.

It is a learning process of striking a balance between the tough requirements and the lighter side and being disciplined to achieve the best results for your team. Should that be the most of every player; every tour will be an enjoyable and memorable experience.


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