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Sri Lankan cricketers next on ICL radar

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With every passing day the Indian Cricket League (ICL) launched by Zee Sports owner Subash Chandra is slowly gathering momentum.

According to sources former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, former Sri Lanka cricketer turned commentator Russel Arnold, leg-spinner Upul Chandana, fast bowlers Nuwan Zoysa and Ruchira Perera and Moors SC all-rounder Anil Rideegammanagedera are spoken highly of joining the league for its inaugural multi-million dollar Twenty20 tournament scheduled to take place in India in October-November.

These players according to sources have been approached by former England captain and popular cricket commentator Tony Greig to sign up with other top celebrities of the game. Indications are that most of them will.

Greig who was in Sri Lanka to commentate in the recently concluded Sri Lanka-Bangladesh cricket series is one of the executive directors of the ICL board where former Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev is the CEO. Dean Jones and Kiran More, two former cricketers from Australia and India are the other members of the board.

Apart from Atapattu and Chandana who are contracted to Sri Lanka Cricket the others are not binded by any contract and are free to sign with whom they wish.

Arnold retired from cricket at the end of the 2007 World Cup while Chandana, Zoysa and Perera have not held onto a regular place in the national side. Rideegammanagedera has been overlooked for selection even in the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team despite winning Sri Lanka Cricket’s Player of the Year award last Sunday.

According to the news report from Mumbai a number of names of retired and semi-retired players are currently doing the rounds. Quite a few are expected to be from the English celebrity side Lashings where Atapattu is currently playing.

A Mumbai based news report said: “Marvan Atapattu has a ‘strong chance’ of moving over to the league. Atapattu is still nursing the wounds of being benched right through the 2007 World Cup. The right-handed batsman even opted out of the Bangladesh series, but Atapattu still retains hopes of playing for Sri Lanka. ‘I am still contracted with Sri Lanka Cricket. We have two upcoming series and want to play in that,’ said Atapattu from Canterbury. But despite Atapattu brushing off the suggestion, it is learnt that he is in talks with ICL along with teammate and fast bowler Nuwan Zoysa.”

The ICL initially signed one high-profile cricketer, former West Indies captain Brian Lara and indications are that former Australian bowlers Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and a host of other well known stars are due to sign on the dotted line shortly.

It is being speculated that Fleming, now leading English county side Nottinghamshire might end his international career to join ICL for a fee of $440,000.

The Twenty20 tournament has been organized with a purpose by Subash Chandra to prove to the Indian Cricket Board that Zee has the experience of telecasting matches internationally. The Indian Board overlooked Zee’s offer for TV rights despite them making the highest bid and signed up with Nimbus instead.

The ICL is a Twenty20 series featuring six teams comprising four international players and two Indian stars, with the rest made up of younger players.

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Sri Lankan cricketers celebrate their series whitewash over Bangladesh

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Sri Lankan cricketers celebrate their series whitewash and victory over Bangladesh by 39 runs during their third One-Day international cricket match in Colombo.

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Sana the ninth bowler to take 300 ODI wickets

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Sanath Jayasuriya the ninth bowler to take 300 ODI wickets after his haul of 4 for 31 in the second ODI against Bangladesh. Jayasuriya – more known for his powerful shot-making ability than his left-arm slingers – is only the third Sri Lankan bowler to do so, after Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas.

Jayasuriya has also scored over 12,000 runs in ODIs, a feat matched by no other player. He’s no slouch in the field either, having taken 114 catches in 397 matches. Other than Sachin Tendulkar, Jayasuriya is the only player to have completed the unique treble of 10,000 runs, 100 wickets and 100 catches. The fact that he is currently the highest-capped player in ODIs does come to Jayasuriya’s aid, though.

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Jayasuriya is the grand old man playing in the international circuit, with only Tendulkar having played longer. His crucial role for Sri Lanka with the ball is reflected in the fact that the team has won 22 of 30 matches when he has taken three wickets or more.

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Chamara Silva’s 36 steered Sri Lanka to a series win

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The three-match one-day series followed a predictable script as Sri Lanka wrapped up the second ODI and the series at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo with a five-wicket win. The victory was fashioned by a ruthless bowling performance, starting with Lasith Malinga’s incisive opening burst, followed by Sanath Jayasuriya’s finishing touches, restricting Bangladesh to 137, a score few teams can realistically defend.

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Sri Lanka’s squad for ICC 20 -Twenty World Cup

Sri Lanka’s squad of thirty players for the ICC 20 -Twenty World Cup which is scheduled to be held in South Africa this September.

However the selectors have once again omitted former skipper Marvan Atapattu who pulled out of the current series against Bangladesh from the squad while also overlooking new found opener Malinda Warnapura too. However the batsmen Jehan Mubarak and Michael Vandort who have not proved themselves in the shorter version of the game also has been given a chance to prove themselves. Avishka Gunawardena who also was kept in cold storage for a while also has been thought of for the initial squad.

The squad: Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Dilruwan Perera, Upul Tharanga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Avishka Gunawardena, Mahela Udawatte, T.M. Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, Michael Vandort, Jehan Mubarak, Thilina Kandambi, Chamara Silva, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Ranga Dias, Dilhara Fernando, Ishara Amerasinghe, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Nuwan Zoysa, Akalanka Ganegama, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Muttiah Muralitharan, Hasantha Fernando, Malinga Bandara, Kaushal Lokuarachchi, Gayan Wijekone, Upul Chandana and Dhammika Prasad.

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Chaminda Vaas will miss next week’s third Test against Bangladesh

Sri Lankan paceman Chaminda Vaas has been given permission to skip the third and final cricket Test against Bangladesh in Kandy so he could return to play for English county Middlesex.

A Sri Lanka Cricket official said the 33-year old Vaas who has played in 98 tests has been given special permission to leave the team after Sri Lanka warpped up the series with victory in the second test on Thursday.

“Yes Vaas will not be around for the last test”, said the official.

Sri Lanka won both matches by innings margins and look set for a clean sweep when the final Test starts at the Asgiriya stadium in Kandy on Wednesday. The selectors have all-rounder Farveez Maharoof, left-arm spinner Sujeewa de Silva and leg-spinner Malinga Bandara to chose from, when it comes to picking Vaas’ replacement.

Vaas could find himself playing his 100 Test during Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia in November this year.

Spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who is contracted with Lancashire, will also return to England after the Kandy Test and not play in the three one-dayers along with Vaas.

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Mahela Jayawardena wants new faces to shine in Bangladesh series

Sri Lankan cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena said yesterday that the absence of veteran batsman Marvan Atapattu, who pulled out from the Bangladesh series, was a disappointment but added it was a blessing in disguise as the occasion would also provide an opportunity for a new face to grab the occasion.

“It’s disappointing but we should know the responsibilities and it is a chance for a new player to prove himself and fill the void (left by Atapattu)”, said Jayawardena at a news conference in Colombo yesterday to mark the launch of the series which begins on June 25.

Jayawardena did not say who could take Atapattu’s place but it is likely that 28-year old uncapped left hand batsman Malinda Warnapura would find himself playing a part in the Test series.

Jayawardena said that he was looking at a long term plan as there is plenty of cricket coming up during the next few months. After the home series against Bangladesh the Sri Lankans will compete in the inaugural Twenty-20 tournament in South Africa followed by a home series against England and a tour to Australia for two test matches in Brisbane and Hobart. Jayawardena said that there would be a lot of cricket this year and the players need to be guided in a proper manner. He said that he will not hesitate to experiment with some of the new players during the Bangladesh series in consultation with the national selectors. The Sri Lankan captain said that there are a few players who are anxiously waiting for a break and they are certain to grab the opportunity with both hands.

Already veteran Sanath Jayasuriya has been kept away from the three test matches but will return to play in the three match one day series. Jayawardena said that his team’s success during the last sixteen months has been due to some real hard work. He said that each player has been able to improve his skills and that has helped them to overcome every challenge on the field. Jayawardena also said that vice captain Kumar Sangakkara will be available for both test and one day series.

Bangladesh’s new captain Mohammad Ashraful said that his team needed to improve a lot in test cricket although they have made steady progress in the shorter version of the game. The last time they toured Sri Lxanka in 2005 they were routed by the home team in both the test and one day series.-Wijeya Newspapers

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Dhoni and Mahela hammered centuries in a record stand

Mahendra Dhoni and Mahela Jayawardene hammered centuries in a record stand to set up Asia’s 13-run win over Africa in the third and final match of the Afro-Asia one-day series here on Sunday.

Dhoni (139 not out) and Jayawardene (107) put on 218 for the sixth wicket, as Asia posted a challenging 331-8 before restricting Africa to 318-7 in an exciting day-night match to complete a 3-0 sweep.

The previous best for the sixth wicket in one-day internationals was 165.

Skipper Justin Kemp posed the main threat to Asia’s total with a blazing 76-ball 86 with seven sixes, but his team’s hopes virtually ended when he was bowled by left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique (4-65) in the 46th over.

Africa were struggling at 159-5 before Kemp added 122 for the sixth wicket with Shaun Pollock, who remained unbeaten with 58 off 49 balls.

Africa began the chase on an impressive note as AB de Villiers and Vusi Sibanda added 117 for the opening wicket before faltering against Asian spinners Rafique and Harbhajan Singh (3-48).

South African De Villiers hit three sixes and seven fours in his 63-ball 70 before becoming Bangladeshi Rafique’s first victim and Boeta Dippenaar lasted just one ball before falling in the same over.

Africa slipped to 138-3 when the well-set Zimbabwean Sibanda (45) was stumped by Dhoni while attempting a big shot off Rafique.

Man-of-the-match Dhoni brought off two more stumpings to account for Steve Tikolo and Mark Boucher, this time off Indian off-spinner Harbhajan before Kemp and Pollock gave a big scare to Asia with their big-hitting.

Asia were earlier reeling at 72-5 following Kenyan Peter Ongondo’s triple strike, but Sri Lankan Jayawardene and Indian Dhoni came to their team’s rescue with robust knocks in hot and humid conditions.

Jayawardene hammered two sixes and nine fours in a 106-ball knock for his 10th century in one-day internationals before falling in the closing overs.

Dhoni gave a superb exhibition of power hitting as he struck five sixes and 15 fours in a 97-ball innings for his third hundred in one-dayers.

Asia were in trouble in the initial overs against disciplined African bowling and fielding before Jayawardene and Dhoni altered the course of the innings.  …via Wijeya Newspapers

Scoreboard

Asia
V.Sehwag c Kemp b M.Morkel 8
S.Jayasuriya c Botha b Ongondo 13
U.Tharanga c De Villiers b Ongondo 10
Y.Singh b Chigumbura 31
M.Yousuf c Dippenaar b Ongondo 2
M.Jayawardene c Botha b M.Morkel 107
M.Dhoni not out 139
M.Mortaza c M.Morkel b Chigumbura 1
H.Singh b.Morkel 4
M.Rafique not out 0
Extras: (b-4 lb-2 nb-2 w-8) 16
Total: (eight wickets, 50 overs) 331
Fall of wickets:1-8 2-30 3-45 4-51 5-72 6-290 7-309 8-315
Bowling: M.Morkel 10-0-50-3, P.Ongondo 10-2-35-3, E.Chigumbura 10-0-77-2, J.Kemp 2-0-9-0, J.Botha 10-1-49-0, S.Tikolo 4-0-59-0, V.Sibanda 2-0-24-0, AB de Villiers 2-0-22-0.

Africa:
AB de Villiers c Mortaza b Rafique 70
V. Sibanda st Dhoni b Rafique 45
B. Dippenaar c Yuvraj b Rafique 0
S. Tikolo st Dhoni b Harbhajan 11
J. Kemp b Rafique 86
M. Boucher st Dhoni b Harbhajan 7
S. Pollock not out 58
E. Chigumbura b Harbhajan 4
J. Botha not out 18
Extras (lb9, nb1, w9) 19
Total (for seven wickets) 318
Fall of wickets: 1-117 (De Villiers), 2-117 (Dippenaar), 3-138 (Sibanda), 4-149 (Tikolo), 5-159 (Boucher), 6-281 (Kemp), 7-290 (Chigumbura).
Bowling: Asif 10-1-62-0, Mortaza 9-1-51-0, Rafique 10-0-65-4, Jayasuriya 10-0-73-0, Harbhajan 10-0-48-3, Yuvraj 1-0-10-0.
Overs: 50


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Sri Lankan cricket’s governing body hit back at the national team’s chief selector

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

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Time to honour the past Cricket Worthies

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.

Gerry Waidyasekera

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.

Ivers Gunasekera

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.

Bertie Wijesinghe

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.

Premasara Epasinghe

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

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