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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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LG ICC Test Player Rankings Murali and Sanga making history

The spin genius is just fourth bowler ever to reach 920 points while the left hander becomes first Sri Lankan batsman to pass the 900 mark

Two of Sri Lanka’s best players of all time have made history on the LG ICC Test Player Rankings following their team’s 3-0 series win over Bangladesh last week.

Muttiah Muralidaran has become only the fourth Test bowler in history to reach 920 rating points and is the highest rated bowler for 24 years. He is now just two rating points behind Pakistan great Imran Khan and is fast catching up on England’s Sydney Barnes and George Lohmann, who are first and second, respectively, in the all-time Test bowlers’ list.

Meanwhile, Kumar Sangakkara is stamping his own mark on history as he enjoys a fine run of recent form that continued in two double hundreds during the series with Bangladesh.

Sangakkara becomes the first Sri Lankan batsman to pass the magic 900 rating points mark and he has moved up to 22nd in the all-time list for Test batsmen. He remains third in the current LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen but is continuing to close the gap on the two players currently ahead of him, Mohammad Yousuf and Ricky Ponting.

The 29-year-old became just the sixth player in history to score double hundreds in successive Tests when he put the Bangladeshi bowlers to the sword last week in Kandy.

This feat was first achieved by Walter Hammond against Australia in 1928/29 and since then has been matched by Don Bradman (who managed it three times against England in 1930, 1934 and 1936/7), India’s Vinod Kambli (against England and Zimbabwe 1992/23), Graeme Smith of South Africa (against England in 2003) and Australia captain Ricky Ponting (against India in 2003/04). Australia legend Bradman has scored the most double hundreds in Tests – 12 – but there are only two other players ahead of Sangakkara’s tally of six – Brian Lara (West Indies, nine) and Hammond (England, seven). Sangakkara is now level with fellow countryman Marvan Atapattu and Pakistan’s Javed Miandad.

He has now moved ahead of India captain Rahul Dravid who has five scores of 200 or more in Tests.

Incidentally, Sangakkara’s Test double hundreds have come against four different opponents – Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa (twice) and Bangladesh (twice) – with four made in home matches (two at the Sinhalese Sports Club, both against South Africa, the P.Saravanamuttu Stadium in the second Test against Bangladesh and now at Kandy).

His other two double tons were compiled in Lahore (against Pakistan) and Bulawayo (versus Zimbabwe).

There was very little movement in the latest rankings with Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena going up another place to 12th position, following his 165 in Kandy, his 18th Test hundred, overtaking Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq in the process.

In the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers, Muralidaran has stretched his lead from South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini in second position with Anil Kumble of India and another Protea, Shaun Pollock, back in joint-third place.

Meanwhile, the annual update of the LG ICC Test Championship has seen Australia stretch its lead at the top and it now stands 26 rating points clear of second-placed England.

Sri Lanka is another eight points further back having moved up two places to third position and South Africa is also up two places from sixth spot to fourth. Pakistan is the big loser after the update having dropped three places from third to sixth.

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Kumar Sangakkara plays down record talk

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Kumar Sangakkara humbly played down comparisons with batting greats after inking his name in the record books with a second consecutive double hundred against Bangladesh at the Asgiriya International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.

Sangakkara became the sixth man in history to score back-to-back double centuries, joining Don Bradman and Walter Hammond among others, when he made an unbeaten 222 on the third day of the second Test.

"Its nice to be in that company for double hundreds but I think I’ve got a long way to go, when it comes to achievements and scoring runs. I’ve a lot more to do to really deserve that in Tests. I would say ’thank you’ for it and keep working hard," said Sangakkara. Vinod Kambli, Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting are the others to have achieved the feat.

The double hundred last week was, he felt, a better innings, because "the key is to getting runs is when you are not feeling too comfortable, and not batting at your best.

"This double hundred was slightly more fluent than the one I got at the Sara Stadium. There was a bit more rhythm in this innings. I didn’t struggle as much as I did in Colombo. I still think I’ve a few things to iron out back in the nets when I go to Colombo so that I get everything down the way I want it to be," he said.

Sangakkara put together a massive 311-run partnership for the third wicket with his captain Mahela Jayawardene who scored 165. The union formed the base for Sri Lanka’s massive score of 500-4.

"It’s always nice to bat with Mahela because he scores really quickly. It opens up a lot more opportunities for me as well. We like batting together very much. We compliment each other in a way that our scoring rates also go up," said Sangakkara.

"The key today were the partnerships. The more partnerships you build, the more you can increase your scoring rate. We went out there first to consolidate and get a foundation for us to launch from. When we had that it got a lot easier for us to score. Our main game plan was to go out there bat the day," he said.

With a lead of 369 already, Sri Lanka is expected to declare overnight and get Bangladesh batting a second time tomorrow. "The pitch will offer a good deal of assistance to Murali. But the key would be to expIoit the new ball. There’s a bit in it if the bowlers hit the right areas and hit the seam," said Sangakkara.

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Bangladesh crash for 131 as Muralitharan takes 6-28

Muttiah Muralitharan closing towards magical 700 test wicket mark as Sri Lanka skittled Bangladesh for a meager 131 runs in the first innings of the third cricket test on Thursday.

Resuming from the overnight score of 72 for four, Bangladesh lost their next six wickets in the space of 90 minutes in another rain-affected session. Muralitharan’s six-wicket haul took him 100 test wickets in Kandy, his hometown. Left-arm seamer Sujeeva de Silva broke a promising stand of 34 runs between Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful and Tushar Imran on Thursday morning, with Tushar edging a ball to second slip. Next to go was Ashraful, knicking a de Silva delivery through to the keeper, out for 26.

Sri Lanka then brought Muralitharan on to clean up the tail. The ace spinner obliged in quick time, taking the final four wickets to move his test wicket tally to 694.

Bangladesh’s 131 was only a marginal improvement on its first innings efforts in the previous two tests of the series, when they were skittled for 89 and 62.

A heavy shower soon after the Bangladeshi innings forced players to take early lunch and delayed the start of Sri Lankan inning.

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Kumar Sangakkara on the rise in rankings

Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara has risen to a career-high third position in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen.

The stylish left-hander, now playing as a batting specialist after starting his international career as a wicketkeeper-batsman, made an unbeaten 200 in his latest outing, the innings and 90 runs win over Bangladesh in Colombo this week.

And that innings has been enough to lift him above Australia’s Michael Hussey and Kevin Pietersen of England with now only Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan and Australia captain Ricky Ponting ahead of him in the list.

Sangakkara can, however, claim to be ahead of Yousuf and Ponting in at least one respect as it was his fifth Test double hundred, eclipsing the four each scored by the two players in front of him in the table.

Australia legend Don Bradman has scored most double hundreds in Tests – 12 – but there are only four other players ahead of Sangakkara’s tally – Brian Lara (West Indies, nine), Walter Hammond (England, seven), Marvan Atapattu (Sri Lanka, six) and Javed Miandad (Pakistan, also six).

India captain Rahul Dravid is level with Sangakkara with five scores of 200 or more in Tests.

Sangakkara already has the highest-ever rating by a Sri Lanka batsman in Test cricket, something supported by his average of 52.17 from 66 matches. No Sri Lanka batsman to have played 10 or more Tests has a better average than that.

His next goals in rating terms will be to close down the lead held by Ponting and Yousuf and also reach the magical 900-point mark, something achieved by only 21 players in the history of the game.

Incidentally, Sangakkara’s Test double hundreds have come against four different opponents – Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa (twice) and now Bangladesh – with three made in home matches (two at the Sinhalese Sports Club, both against South Africa, and this latest one at the P.Saravanamuttu Stadium).

His other two double tons were compiled in Lahore (against Pakistan) and Bulawayo (versus Zimbabwe).

Sangakkara’s rise is the most notable feat inside the top 20 batting and bowling places of the LG ICC Player Rankings but outside those select groups, Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful has climbed to a career-high listing.

The dashing right-hander, on his first tour in charge of the Tigers, scored a defiant unbeaten 129 spread over more than five hours to delay Sri Lanka’s victory celebrations, and that innings has been enough to propel him up 15 spots to 45th position in the batting table.

Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim’s innings of 80 – which contributed, along with Ashraful’s effort, to Bangladesh’s highest-ever Test partnership of 191 – is another man on the rise, although he is still in the foothills of the rankings after climbing 54 places to 102nd place.

An unusually quiet Test match for star spinner Muttiah Muralidaran – he still took five wickets – has meant he has been unable to extend his lead at the top of the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test bowlers but he remains well clear of South Africa fast bowler Makhaya Ntini.

Third-placed Anil Kumble of India is some distance behind these two but the leg-spinner can close the gap with some sound performances in the forthcoming Test series against England.

Left-arm swinger Chaminda Vaas, whose four second-innings wickets in the second Test hastened Bangladesh’s demise, is the one bowler inside the top 20 to make an upward move, climbing one place to 12th position, overtaking Corey Collymore of the West Indies.

Further down the list, Sri Lanka pace bowler Lasith Malinga is another man heading in the right direction, up one spot to 28th place and overtaking Sreesanth of India in the process.

Vaas, who has been released to return to county cricket for Middlesex in the UK ahead of the final match of the series, has consolidated his fifth place in the LG ICC Player Rankings for Test all-rounders, a list still headed by Jacques Kallis of South Africa.

The final Test of the three-match series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be played in Kandy starting next Wednesday (11 July). That will be followed by three ODIs, all in Colombo, between 20 and 24 July.

Bangladesh must avoid defeat to ensure its Test rating does not fall to zero on the LG ICC Test Championship table. Victory in that third Test for Sri Lanka would lift its rating to 103 points, just four behind fourth-placed India.

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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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Sri Lankan could be the next ICC boss

With the International Cricket Council agreeing to appoint an Asian as its new Chief Executive at the end of Malcolm Speed’s tenure in 2008, the names of former Sri Lanka captains Duleep Mendis and Ranjan Madugalle have been mentioned as possible replacements.

By Rex Clementine

Reports from London said that during the recent ICC meeting, Sharad Pawar, President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India had agreed to stand down from the race for the ICC Presidency, provided ECB Chairman and President elect David Morgan agrees to a request from the Asian block to appoint an Asian as the CEO of the game’s governing body.

Cricket sources in Colombo said that the two Sri Lankans were leading contenders for the high profile job. The source said that the possibility of one of them succeeding Speed was ‘extremely good’.

A leading cricket official meanwhile said that Cricket’s Interim Committee will discuss the issue and at the appropriate time forward the two names.

Madugalle, a highly respected figure in cricket circles, is the Chief Match Referee of the ICC. The 48-year-old has been an employee of the ICC for 15 long years and has officiated at two World Cup finals while missing out on a third as his country was playing in the final this year.

The ICC also has high regard for Madugalle and has assigned him high profile series like The Ashes, India-Australia and India-Pakistan series.

The governing body in fact overruled former board chairman Thilanga Sumathipala in 2001 when the controversial administrator refrained from nominating Madugalle to the panel of Match Referee’s for a second term.

Madugalle’s easy going exterior and charming personality masks his reputation as a strict disciplinarian.

Mendis, the CEO of the Sri Lankan board has been involved with the board since his retirement, in various capacities as chairman of selectors, coach, manager of the national team and Director Cricket Operations.

Mendis, the Manager of the World Cup wining team in 1996, succeeded Anura Tennakoon as CEO in 2003.

Another source said that if approached, Madugalle may be reluctant, since it would require him to be based at the ICC headquarters in Dubai. He would instead prefer to continue in his present job, which allows him to be based in Colombo.

Other high profile names mentioned for the top seat are Syed Ashraful Haq, CEO of the Asian Cricket Council and Majid Khan, who has been attached to the Pakistan Cricket Board over the years.

The source said that Ashraful’s chances are slim as he is deemed a ‘Dalmiya Man’.

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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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Marvan Atapattu has opted out citing personal commitments

Marvan Atapattu has opted out of the Test series against Bangladesh, a top Sri Lanka Cricket official said on Sunday.

SLC secretary Kangadaran Mathivanan said the former skipper had told them he would not be available for the Bangladesh tournament despite being chosen for the Test matches.

“We have received an e-mail from Marvan announcing his non-availability citing personal commitments,” Mathivanan said.

Atapattu is currently in England playing for Lashings World XI.

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