Sri Lankan cricket’s governing body hit back at the national team’s chief selector yesterday, after his dismissal of last week’s one-day series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi as “absolutely ridiculous.”
An official at Sri Lanka Cricket said they had sent two letters to Asantha de Mel, the chairman of selectors, expressing unhappiness over the way he has handled the team.
De Mel had pinned blamed on the governing body for hurriedly arranging the tour to sweltering Abu Dhabi so soon after a gruelling World Cup campaign in the West Indies.
“It is absolutely ridiculous. The board must look at the comforts of players rather than just going after money, money and more money,” De Mel had said earlier in the week.
Sri Lanka lost the series 2-1 but received $750,000 for taking part.
The governing body accused De Mel of allowing star players Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Sangakkara to travel to England to play county cricket prior to the tournament in Abu Dhabi.
“We needed them to play in Abu Dhabi and then go to England, but De Mel had given them permission to skip Abu Dhabi,” said an official from the body who requested anonymity.
“If player fatigue was one of de Mel’s concerns, how could he have approved the trio to play in England immediately after the World Cup?”
De Mel was unavailable for comment as he is currently overseas.
But a source close to him said the governing body appeared to dislike him because he acted independently.
An associate of the chief selector said he had been dropped from a proposed new team of selectors. De Mel’s selection panel completed its term on April 30.
Sri Lanka are also looking to appoint a successor to outgoing coach Tom Moody, whose last commitment was the tournament in Abu Dhabi. -SLC
Powered by Post2Blog Express
Sri Lanka Cricket would do well to reward past servants of the game such as Gerry Waidyasekara, C.I Gunasekara and Bertie Wijesinghe rather than wasting money to send nonentities to watch World Cup, writes legendary Stanley Jayasinghe
To furtively bless and sponsor scores of nonentities to pursue cricket teams on tours abroad, at the expense of the public purse, amounts to embezzlement. It seriously undermines transparency and sound business management. Anyone of sane mind is entitled to question whether such rich rewards would be proffered from a properly administered corporate body.
Ironically the former Sports Minister, who dismissed the earlier democratically elected Cricket Board, alleging mismanagement of funds, is at the forefront of the current regime and allegedly guilty of similar transgressions! A clear case of the remedy being worse than the disease.
Regrettably distinguished personages, who have made indelible prints in Sri Lanka’s cricket history, remain unrecognized and uncoloured in the sunset of their lives.
Nonagenarian Gerry Waidyasekera and octogenarians C. Ivers Gunesekera and R. Bertie Wijesinghe were post World War II stalwarts in their respective fields.
Gerry Waidyasekera was an educationist, who single-handedly promoted the game in remote Potuhera, Polgahawela and Kurunegala areas whilst teaching in those schools during the fifties. Leather ball cricket being an unaffordable luxury the tennis ball held sway, with Sekera playing the role of Unofficial Honorary Coach to the underprivileged schoolboys. Many were the invitations extended to Cricket Board officials and national cricketers to visit and encourage the impoverished youngster and his efforts met with only limited success but he continued undaunted, while releasing his personal funds. His zealous coaching campaign continued until he reached the mid-eighties, and finally called it a day.
Waidyasekera was, in addition, the cricket correspondent of the world acclaimed Wisden Cricket Almanac for several decades. This writer was not averse to paying respects to the much revered schoolmaster who maintained old standards of discipline and punctuality.
Of similar veneration was Ivers Gunesekera who entered the local cricket scene in the late forties, after a long stint with the Ceylon Garrison Artillery, in World War II. A wiry six-footer, he started his cricket as a hard-hitting batsman and fast-bowler of the SSC team. He then went on to captain the Ceylon team. His brawny batting drew vast crowds as he plundered runs via boundaries and sixes. Windows of neighbouring houses and even the cars of spectators ran unusual risks, much like Sanath Jayasuriya and Shahid Afridi of modern times. He and Sathasivam were unquestionably the “darlings” of the local crowd, including this writer!
His weapon of destruction was a blackish-brown long handle Stuart Surridge bat where broad bindings gave it a forbidding look. To the best of this writers knowledge levers and his bat were inseparable companions. Many were the fielders and bowlers, both local and foreign, who carried bruised palms after Gunesekera’s onslaughts.
Midway through his cricket career he successfully experimented with leg-spin and was a tremendous success, collecting a bag-ful of wickets in local and international contests.
Another octogenarian, who served the country well, as player and coach, for over half-a- century was Bertie Wijesinghe. Wijesinghe was a utility all-rounder and brilliant fielder in the covers.
When Ramsay de S. Wettimuny, father of the brothers Sunil, Mithra and Sidath surveyed the field for a cricket coach it was Wijesinghe who filled the role. Having satisfied himself of Wijesinghe’s proficiency, Wettimuny constructed the indoor cricket school at Health Department ground. It was here that the Wettimuny brothers honed their skills under the watchful eyes of Wijesinghe.
Having undergone a two-year spell of coaching in Nottingham, England, Wijesinghe returned to Ceylon and involved himself with Trinity College, Kandy, and St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, before conducting weekend classes at the SSC ground, until recently. From the foregoing it is clear that the esteemed trio have served Sri Lanka with distinction and are deserving of our salutations.
Readers are reassured that the critical comments stated earlier were meant to prevent repeats of these questionable misdeeds. That the three veterans have been beneficiaries of the Interim Committee’s generosity is highly appreciated. This writer is also aware of the Interim Committee’s grants to several institutions in the remote regions of Sri Lanka. However, the general consensus is that by bestowing rewards arbitrarily, worthy cases as shown above, are disregarded. Such wasteful practices run contrary to accepted norms of corporate governance.
More than passing mention should be made of a few more personages who have given a ‘leg up’ to Sri Lanka’s graduation to ICC ranks. They have aged with good grace and remain unwearied, unwithered and in good cheer.
Tita Nathanielsz- King of sling
Long before “chuckers” and “slingers” hit world headlines, Ceylon paraded the “King of Slingers” — E.B. “Tita” Nathanielsz of Colts Cricket Club. A slim wiry six-footer with well-groomed jet-black hair Nathanielsz opened bowling for Ceylon off a five-foot run up. On the Colt’s CC matting wicket his “slingers” rose awkwardly onto the ribcage unsettling many a batsman.
On the green P. Saravanamuttu Oval, the Nathanielsz versus Sathasivam battle was eagerly looked forward to. If memory serves me right Sathasivam had the better of the exchanges over the years. The “King of Slingers”, however, remains deeply etched in this writers mind for a painful personal experience. Facing the “Slinger” for the first time in a Test Trial at the P. Saravanamuttu Oval, a toe-crushing first ball yorker crashed onto the right foot, drawing painful tears and displaying stars during the day. Survival was assured when a quick single enabled this writer to change ends. Nathanielsz’ s services were lost prematurely when in a motor accident his right palm was jarred.
another much revered celebrity who promoted the game amongst the less affluent society at grass root’s level, with his Sinhala discourses over the radio, was Premasara Epasinghe. It would not be incorrect to state that it was this scholarly commentator who fashioned into Sinhala the various cricketing idioms, tents, expressions to educate the masses in this foreign sport. Such eminent figures who have contributed to the furtherance of the game deserve recognition and rewards. Unfortunately such practices seldom prevail in our sunny isle.
Neil, Dr. HIK, Errol, Ratnapala
Four others who have served the cause of cricket are Neil Perera, Dr. H.I.K. Fernando, Errol Seneviratne and N.G.A Ratnapala of distant Tissamaharama. More of them when and if the Editor and space permit. -Wijeya Newspapers
Powered by Post2Blog Express
All the controversy surrounding fast bowler Lasith Malinga’s hair is astonishing, all the more since it shouldn’t happen at all. One would have expected critics to carp on a more serious matter, such as a (presumably) suspect bowling action. Instead, they have picked on his bleached head of hair.
The problem is that, for the first time in our cricketing history, we have a bowler who has become internationally famous because of his looks (in other words, he is the first we’ve had with genuine and marketable sex appeal). The girls in the Caribbean reportedly raved over him. His Afro looks and dark complexion undoubtedly have something to do with that – plus, one suspects now, his superb head of hair, which has left Lankan males with less conspicuous growths on their top decks (and even those with none at all) writhing with jealousy.
One good thing about the Lasith Malinga phenomenon, as one might call it now, is that it has advanced the ratings of dark-complexioned males in our marriage market. In a country where most, if not all, people are supposed to be yearning for a fair complexion, this is no mean achievement.
This is said to be more of a problem for women than for men. But men with dark skins too, can have an awful time here.
Sri Lanka has not won a Miss World contest so far, but Lasith Malinga being voted the sexiest player of this World Cup is certainly a consolation prize, and good news for all dark-skinned males who constitute a second-class citizenry in this country.
But back to the hair controversy. Fast bowlers everywhere are a virile lot, but I can’t recall anyone who has got into so much trouble because of his hair. The whole problem is enhancing one’s looks by bleaching the hair has become a fad in this country. This is especially true of those who have some sort of inferiority about their looks. It is quite possible that Lasith Malinga bleached his hair to offset the natural disadvantage of having Afro-looks and a dark skin – whatever one might say about that in the Caribbean, that combination is decidedly a disadvantage in this country when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex.
In a recent interview, the now internationally-famous fast bowler said that he has been admonished by a Buddhist monk for having bleached his hair, and he has therefore decided to revert to its natural state (the bleached hair, let’s face it, was a factor in his stardom. Even if he had been a big bowling failure at the World Cup, he would still have been popular among the girls).
He sounded chagrined, and I really don’t understand why. It’s about time he started growing and faced such silly criticism squarely.
He went on to say in the same interview that he was still the same village boy at heart. C’mon Lasith, we all know better. That’s what people like to hear. But the boy from a village in Ambalangoda will be transformed in some fundamental ways by cricket and the places it will take him. It anyone with those possibilities remains the same village boy even half-way through that career, then there must be something wrong.
He already sounds transformed, in that he knows what to tell the press. He claimed in the same interview that the bleached hair was a tactic meant to put off his opponents in the cricket field. This aspect has not been lost on some of his admirers and defenders. One local pundit said on radio that the young man with his flaming hair reminded him of the lion in the drama ‘Sinhabahu.’
But let’s not flatter ourselves too much. The lion analogy would be totally lost on a foreign batsman waiting at the wicket. It’s a safe bet that a Hayden or Lara watching the bowler making his run would be concentrating on his bowling hand, not the hairdo. If they get distracted or intimidated by bleached hair, they wouldn’t be playing international cricket.
Another aggrieved critic, writing to a Colombo English daily, has admonished Malinga for ‘forgetting that he’s a village boy.’ But why rub that in his face? Almost all the village boys I have spoken to share one dream – to get out of the socio-economic straightjacket of their rural poverty.
The same critic has admonished the Caribbean folk for being confused enough ‘not to know north from south.’ But why are the poor West Indians, a much more fun-loving lot any day than straight-laced Sri Lankans, being taken to task for finding one of our village boys sexier than the likes of Glenn McGrath, Sajid Mahmud and Ajit Agarkar?
The answer to that may well be that the sum of all parts was greater than the whole, but don’t underestimate the power of that bleached mane (at least to adoring females).
From historical times, hair has been a potent symbol of sexuality and virility (the well-known tale of Samson and Delilah is an example). With his hair back to ordinary black, will his bowling averages suffer? Only time can tell. Even if we disassociate the potency of hair from cricketing performance – balding Sanath Jayasuriya with his fiery bat makes nonsense out of that theory – we must allow people to have their own identities without soaking them in cultural correctness, which stems directly from narrow-mindedness and xenophobia. The frogs in the Lankan well are croaking louder than ever. -Wijeya Newspapers
Kuala Lumpur, May 21 (Reuters) – Asia’s four cricket test-playing nations will send their best players to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, according to regional cricket chiefs.
By Nazvi Careem
Cricket, most likely under the twenty 20 format, will make its Asian Games debut in Guangzhou after the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) accepted the sport at its recent meeting.
There was a strong lobby to include cricket at last year’s Asian Games in Doha but the plan was dropped after India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh declined to send their top players.
“The chief executives of the four test-playing Asian nations have orally pledged to send their best available teams to the Asian Games,” Asian Cricket Council (ACC) media officer Shahriah Khan told Reuters on Monday.
“It was based on this fact that the OCA agreed to include cricket in the list of sports.”
ACC Chief Executive Syed Ashraful Huq said taking the game to China would help raise the profile of the sport in the world’s most populous nation as well as in other parts of Asia where cricket is less popular.
“Cricket will receive a major boost across Asia and in particular China as a result of this enlightened decision,” said Huq.
“The ACC has pledged its support for the Guangzhou Games organisers in order to make this event a success.”
The Asian Games cricket competition is likely to feature eight teams — the four test countries, hosts China and three qualifiers.
Khan said twenty20, the newest form of cricket in which each side bats for 20 overs, is the most practical format to adopt for a major multi-sport event.
“With eight teams, you could play two twenty20 games in a day and finish a whole tournament within four to five days,” said Khan.
China already has plans to become a cricket giant and has set up a 20-year development programme in the hope of playing in the World Cup alongside teams such as Australia.
The ACC hopes having four world-class teams at the Asian Games would have a major impact on Chinese sports fans.
“Once China starts playing cricket or hosting events, of which the Guangzhou Games is a start, then cricket circuit around the world would increase tremendously,” said Khan.
“There would be more opportunities to have triangular and quadrangular events, particularly in the southern part of China where the playing season is longer.” –Wijeya Newspapers
Powered by Post2Blog Express
The euphoria generated by Mahela Jayawardena and his distinguished group of sporting ambassadors keeps resonating over hill and dale in our war-torn isle. Despite controversial defeat all Lankans are proud of their performance. Allegations against the victors and umpires are countless and biting.
By Stanley Jayasinghe
Critics and cricketers, barmen and busmen, young and old, intelligent and ignorant, through undiluted patriotism have given expression to their grief and pride. They appear to have finally subscribed to the belief that what cannot be cured must be endured.
A fresh dimension has however been added to the once inflammatory situation. Having reached the ripe age of discretion, and read the multitude of reactions and views in the print media, this writer is of the firm belief that the remedies suggested seem preposterous.
Inserting a pounded squash ball into a batting glove is absolutely freakish, highly unconventional and begs reason. Diverse scribes appear to have distorted the aims and findings of Adam Gilchrist and his coach Bob Meuleman’s experiment. That Gilchrist butchered the Lankan bowling whilst on the way to a world record is a melancholy truth. But to attribute his return to form to the slipping of a squash ball into a glove would be acceptable only to a distinguished dunce.
This writer would have refrained from giving dignity to such baseless allegations but some telephonic enquiries from genuine cricket enthusiasts warrant a response. Pointing accusing fingers at Gilchrist, who has displayed excellent sportsmanship on the field on earlier occasions is blunt slander. Have disgruntled elements overlooked the description of the wicket as a “batsman’s paradise”? It then follows that it is a bowler’s nightmare!
The successful reality of the experiment was brought to light by this Australian duo only subsequent to strident calls for their blood. The reasoning that the bat tended to rotate as a result of Gilchrist’s loose grip is logical and valid. There is no uniformity in size and shape of bat-handles amongst sports goods manufacturers. Some are round while others tend to be elliptical or oval-shaped.
The country-wide outcry against Gilchrist, alleging cheating should be vented with even greater intensity at the numerous politicians and their “pandankarayas” instead. They unashamedly grabbed the opportunity that our cricketers provided them and indulged in an all-expenses-paid holiday in the Caribbean. And this rampage disregarded a Presidential Decree that only the four invitees allocated the privilege by the hosts undertake the trip. What unfolded with the blessings of the Sports Ministry and Interim Committee however was scandalous, hair—raising and utterly immoral. Such profane defiance of a Presidential Decree dilutes discipline and calls for stern action.
Nondescripts with political affiliations, and vote-catching agents of the Cricket Board hierarchy, surreptitiously wangled themselves in and qualified to view the extravaganza in Barbados. Amongst the parasitic retinue was a former Sports Minister who had been much reviled in press and legal fora. Having been installed with a portfolio during the “Chandrika Chintanaya” era, he continues to enjoy the perks extended by the “Mahinda Chintanaya” much to the annoyance and consternation of the sporting fraternity. If such shady practices are permitted, then it can be safely stated that sports and the much bandied “Chintanaya” as heading for the rocks.
Having dignified the ill-founded Gilchrist controversy it would be appropriate to substantiate this writer’s dispassionate opinion with personal experiences.
Dickie Bird used the same tactic
Harold “Dickie” Bird and this writer were regulars in the Leicestershire County cricket team of the early sixties. His credentials as a Test umpire were near-unblemished. However, as an opening batsman he was absolutely pedestrian in run-making. Adam Gilchrist was certainly not in the land of the living when Bird habitually resorted to Gilchrist’s tactic. Yes, Bird wrapped a fragmented piece of sponge, no larger than half a cigarette packet, with a few strands of sticking-plaster, and stuffed it into his batting glove before going out to the crease. He most certainly didn’t dispatch the ball soaring skywards as did Gilchrist. Factually, Bird never scored a six, to the best of my knowledge, during our association of five years! His reply to queries from curious quarters regarding the padding was that it minimized jarring of the palm. So the biased suggestion from some scribes that the ‘doctored’ glove enhanced Gilchrist’s timing is pure fantasy.
Now, in retirement, Bird resides amidst lordly comforts, in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with his Rolls Royce and Geoff Boycott as a neighbour. Readers are welcome to seek further elucidation from Bird at the aforementioned address.
A diversion from batting to yet another aspect of the game should be revealing and amusing in the modern context. Reverting once again to the past, when fast-bowling was in the ascendancy, a unique strategy was practiced by a Test wicket-keeper whose name remains elusive.
In the heydays of Frank Tyson – Fred Trueman – Brian Statham (England) – Ray Lindwall – Keith Miller Bill Johnston -Alan Davidson – Ron Archer (Australia) and Wesley Hall -Roy Gilchrist – Charlie Griffith (West Indies) there performed a wicket- keeper who tucked into his wicket-keeping gloves a strip of raw steak. He deemed it mitigated the jarring of his palm when gathering the fast-moving ball. Perhaps a more knowledgeable and better read scribe would be able to enlighten readers with the name of the stumper.
Not surprisingly neither “Dickie” Bird nor the “steak-gloved stumper” was reckoned a cheat.
Steadfast believers in Gilchrist’s secret formula need only arm themselves with the squash ball and ready themselves for World Cup 2011. Manufacturers of sports goods would readily offer sponsorship to wearers of “squash ball gloves” should they be in the Sri Lankan World Cup 2011 line-up.
Charity with a vengeance
“The living need charity more than the dead”, was a saying of old. The Interim Committee of the Cricket Board has practiced charity with a vengeance. It is an exercise in corruption and abuse of power and position. Most of the beneficiaries of this magnanimous gesture have contributed not an iota for the furtherance of the game. It is this writer’s unshakable belief that the thuds have been squandered indiscreetly in sponsoring questionable elements on all-expenses paid holidays.
A wrong is a wrong, whether committed by the President of the Interim Committee, President of the Republic of Sri Lanka or even the Queen of England.
It is this writer’s intention to propose three individuals a nonagenarian and two octogenarians who have grown old with good grace, after over half-a-century of service to the game. They have reached the stage of being too low for envy and too high for contempt. It would indeed be fitting if the Interim Committee focuses on the trio hereafter on festive and celebratory occasions. The nominees along with their contributions to the furtherance of the sport would follow in my next article for readers’ consideration and comparison. -Wijeya Newspapers
Powered by Post2Blog Express