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The hair debate

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

Anger should be vented at our politicians, not Gilchrist

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.

Blunt slander

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

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Players give ICC thumbs-down

The International Cricket Council has lost the confidence of the players and is being urged to launch an immediate review into its “outdated” structure.

 

In a World Cup survey conducted by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, 56 per cent of players doubted the ICC’s ability to govern the game.

 

And the same percentage of players polled stated they had lost confidence in the ICC’s ability to organise World Cups, with 89 per cent rating the recent tournament in the West Indies as average or worse.

 

The ICC were seen as being “out of touch” with the rest of the cricketing world and FICA chief executive Tim May called upon them to launch an immediate review.

 

May said: “There has been a growing amount of dissatisfaction amongst a wide variety of cricket stakeholders over the past 24 months, regarding the governance of our game.”An independent review will determine what is the best and most applicable structure for cricket’s international governing body.

 

“We strongly believe that the present structure…is outdated and not in the best interests of the game.”

 

May insists the scrutiny should not fall on chief executive Malcolm Speed but on the decision-making committees.

 

May claimed it is the committees who are responsible for the recent issues which have dogged the game – the length of the World Cup, the Darrell Hair situation, anti-doping issues and Zimbabwe’s status in international cricket.

 

And he believes their self-interest is undermining the ICC’s responsibilities as a governing body.

 

May said: “It is these committees that are ultimately responsible for the performance of the organisation.

 

“These committees are mainly comprised of individual representatives of its full members.

“These committees’ composition are more than likely to deliver outcomes that are decided on party lines and the self interest of its members rather than the overall good of the game.

 

“Affiliation and loyalty to other committee members constituencies must take second place to their duty to the international board and the best interests to the game as a whole.”FICA fully supports a strong and decisive International Cricket Council.”

 

May conceded that if a review was to decide the current structure is the best way forward, then at least it answers those critics who are demanding change.

 

He added: “The review may well decide that the present structure is the most applicable – if so, all well and good, at least crickets’ stakeholders will then know that it is the best structure for our game.

 

“But at the moment we don’t know whether it is and increasingly stakeholders want to know if there is a better structure.”

 

FICA’s World Cup survey showed 64 per cent of players believe the same tournament structure – ie four groups of four and then the Super Eights – should be for the next World Cup.

 

A huge 87 per cent felt the tournament was too long and FICA insist the ICC take on board the players’ general dissatisfaction with the World Cup experience.

 

The survey concludes: “Despite the better than expected playing and venue conditions, the better than expected travel arrangements and other logistical arrangements, the players have returned a less than average rating of the event.

 

“The death of Bob Woolmer, the early exit of India and Pakistan, the long and laborious Super Eights, the lack of exciting matches, the rain-affected final, the unfortunate umpire/referee error at the final, and the long periods that players had at their disposal between matches all affected the players opinion.

 

“The less than average rating for the event is consistent with general viewer experience – small crowds, lack of enthusiasm, one-sided matches are not the recipe for a great report card.”

 

Survey results

 

The survey of the world’s best cricketers revealed most players were underwhelmed by this year’s World Cup and have little faith in the ICC’s ability to govern the game.

 

Most of the 45 elite players surveyed admitted they were not satisfied by the governing body’s ability to organise World Cups or the game.

 

The survey found 56 per cent of players were both not satisfied by the ICC’s ability to deliver World Cups and lacked confidence in the ICC governing cricket.

 

Significant numbers also said they had not been educated properly on matters such as corruption, doping and racism.

 

The survey found 89 per cent of players rated the recent World Cup in the Caribbean as either average (44 per cent), below average (38 per cent) or poor (eight per cent).

 

Only three per cent of respondents said the tournament was excellent, while eight per cent rated it good.

 

Australia’s win over Sri Lanka in the final was also marred by rain and the inability of the umpires and match referee Jeff Crowe to call the match off because of light even though both sides had conceded the game over.Those scenes of chaos made for an anti-climatic finish when the match eventually finished in darkness.

 

Just as alarming for the ICC, significant numbers of players said they were not properly educated on anti-doping, anti-corruption and anti-racism measures.

 

Fourteen per cent of players said they had not been properly educated by the ICC on its anti-doping policy, 16 per cent said they had not been adequately educated in anti-corruption matters and 18 per cent said they were not aware of their obligations under the sport’s anti-racism code.

 

FICA said the players’ responses towards the ICC’s governing the game were “disturbing” and should be of “great concern” to the controlling body.

 

FICA said despite better than expected playing conditions, venues and travel arrangements, the players returned a less than average rating of the World Cup.

 

“The less than average rating for the event is consistent with general viewer experience – small crowds, lack of enthusiasm, one-sided matches are not the recipe for a great report card,” it said.

 

“The ICC should review the format, the length of the tournament and the need to ensure that the longest part of the tournament (Super Eights) consistently produces competitive cricket.”

 

The vast majority of players – 87 per cent – thought this year’s eight-week World Cup was too long. Thirteen per cent thought it was just right and three per cent not long enough. FICA said players wanted the tournament reduced by between 10 and 14 days.

 

Fifty-nine per cent of players thought the World Cup comprised too many matches, 46 per cent said 16 teams were too many and 36 per cent said this year’s format should not be used in future tournaments. –Wijeya Newspapers

Sri Lanka Cricket – a billion rupees richer

The Coffers of the cash strapped Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will swell by over a billion Sri Lankan rupees shortly when the island receives its due entitlement for participating in the World Cup and for emerging as runners-up in the tournament.

By Marlon Fernandopulle

A top official of Sri Lanka Cricket confirmed to The Sunday Times that Sri Lanka will receive US $ 8.5 million as participation fees. ‘‘As one of the test playing nations this is our entitlement for participating at the World Cup” The Sunday Times learns that part of this money will be re-distributed among the world cup players while the balance will be utilized for the development of the game. SLC expects this money next month.

In addition to this amount Sri Lanka, who emerged as runners –up in the tournament pocketed US $ 1 million as prize money and also collected a further sum of money for wining three games in the first round and five games in the super eight round.It is believed that the financial position of SLC in 2006 was not satisfactory. This was mainly due to the reduced income on account of the cancellation of a triangular tournament last year featuring South Africa and India. The final Accounts of Sri Lanka Cricket for the year 2006 is to be finalized shortly.

However this year(2007) SLC will be on a better wicket following the income of approximately US $ 10 million (SL Rs.1100 million) from the world cup and the expected revenue from England’s tour to Sri Lanka later this year.

Moody to decide

Meanwhile Coach Tom Moody is expected to meet the hierarchy of Sri Lanka Cricket today and discuss his future. The former Australian cricketer ends his contract with SLC this month but is widely speculated to remain with the team for a further period following his success in the last two years.

Under Tom Moody’s guidance Sri Lankans have had a fine run overseas. They swiped out England 5-0 in an ODI series while drawing the Test series 1-1 in the summer of 2006. Earlier this year they drew 2-2 in an ODI series in New Zealand before capping off the season with a World Cup final appearance.

Moody was appointed Sri Lanka’s national coach in 2005 succeeding John Dyson, the former Australian batsman. He has been linked with Western Australia, the Australian state side, after his contract with Sri Lankan expires. –Wijeya Newspapers

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Sri Lanka Cricketers Reception at President’s House

The politicos were up to it again. They flocked to where the cricketers were in droves, this time at President’s House on Tuesday evening where President Mahinda Rajapaksa hosted the team for a felicitation after the World Cup.

Some of the politicians were attired in casual wear that even the players were unsure of the people who came up to chat with them.

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Pix: Sudath Silva – via Pat and Mangala LA

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Coke launches new label in appreciation of cricketing heroes

Coca-Cola Sri Lanka newly introduced a novel label for its entire PET bottle array highlighting the achievements made by the Sri Lankan Cricket team at the recently concluded Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean. The label shows three stars of the squad, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga who are the brand ambassadors for Coca-Cola in Sri Lanka. The new label was launched to the marketplace in May 2007.

Commenting on the achievements of the Sri Lanka cricket team, Mr. Lakshan Madurasinghe, Public Affairs and Communications Manager stated, “As Sri Lankans we ought to be very proud of our team’s achievements in the Cricket World Cup. As a company, we thought what better way to commemorate this than a limited edition package to recognize the achievements of our cricketers and as a tribute to the affiliation between Coca-Cola and Sri Lankan Cricket. We were privileged and honoured to be part of the welcoming ceremony as the official Beverage partner”.

As a brand, Coca-Cola recently renewed their commitment to cricket at the end of last year by announcing an initiative to develop rural and school level cricket across the country. This plan will be carried out with the support of Sri Lanka Cricket, the School Cricket Association and the three Coke Ambassadors. This undeniably would reinforce the attributes of the Brand and re-iterate the positioning of the campaign ‘Refreshing Side of Cricket’ in Sri Lanka. Internationally, Coca-Cola is involved with mega sporting events such as the Olympics and FIFA world cup. Coca-Cola Sri Lanka continues to be linked with sporting events and acts as the official soft drink partner for Sri Lankan Cricket. This was epitomized through their involvement and association with International cricket matches that were played in Sri Lanka in the past three years and more. –Wijeya Newspapers

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Sri Lanka Dignity in defeat

The pages of history of World Cup 2007 would record the event as a tragi-comedy where Australia, under Ricky Ponting, emerged winners. The much dwarfed rice-and-curry lads from Sri Lanka, though beaten, can gain comfort and consolation for exhibiting supreme sportsmanship throughout the tournament, especially in the final at Kensington Oval, Barbados.

By Stanley Jayasinghe

Skipper Mahela Jayawardena and his deputy Kumar Sangakkara set standards of decency and fair play which politicians and cricketers world wide would do well to emulate. We saw how, despite the momentous occasion, Sangakkara dived and grabbed an Adam Gilchrist snick which, to cameras and naked eye, appeared a clear catch. Immediately and without prompting, Sangakkara frantically swung his hands vigorously, whilst still grounded, indicating a “No Catch”, to relieve the umpires of an unwanted puzzle.

Sangakkara appears to have transformed himself from a vociferous wicket-keeper in the recent past, whose exuberant but often times unwarranted appeals earned this writer’s censure. I can only deduce from such mature conduct that Sri Lanka cricket will continue to prosper linked to standards of decency which could be the envy of all cricket-playing nations. It proves my oft repeated contention that successes in this gentlemen’s game could be achieved whilst upholding its lofty traditions.

Mahela Jayawardena’s gracious acceptance of Pontings appeal to continue the game in semi-darkness, honouring the dictum that “The Umpire’s Word Is Law” is in keeping with true sportsmanship. Admittedly captains of other Test-playing countries have defied umpiring decisions and had their own way. In this WC 2007 final, despite Jayawardena’s prompting the umpires that the match could be considered as completed after the mandatory 20 overs, the foolhardy umpires insisted that the remaining three overs be bowled.

One is entitled to question those critics of Sri Lankan policies the reasons for their deafening silence on this issue. Such ridiculous direction by a crew of cricketing umpires of international repute demands condemnation.

Sri Lanka were progressing smoothly, with Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara middling the ball confidently in a century stand, when bad light and rain intervened, it was reported.

It was at this juncture that Velveddithurai’s villainous Velupillai Prabakharan struck in Colombo and suburbs with his beggarly aeronautical armaments. The black-out denied cricket enthusiasts their long-awaited and much cherished Sri Lanka vs. Australia match on the TV screens. This unexpected set-back prompted this writer to head for the land of nod thereafter.

Uncertain of subsequent events at Kensington Oval the writer would not venture to dwell on further issues. However, considering the importance of the occasion, and disappointed by the match result, it would be justifiable to pose a few pertinent questions to the powers that be.

That Australia was the superior team on the day may be acceptable. A few points, however, keep niggling. With a battery of selectors who had winged their way to proffer advice and guidance to Mahela Jayawardena it would appear comical why the erratic and unpredictable Dilhara Fernando was in the final line-up. Despite 6 – 7 years in the National pool he continues to be an enigma with his wides and no-balls. Juniors such as Lasitha Malinga and Fervez Mahroof have hit the headlines more often. The Selectors should hasten to put their thinking caps on and not hope for divine intervention like some other countries do!

Admittedly, Fernando exceeded the wildest expectations of most cricket fans when he dismissed the last Englishman a fortnight ago, in the final over, to bring Sri Lanka a thrilling victory. But to expect a repeat-performance with his dismal and erratic record in recent times was the height of optimism, especially when this wicket was benign to batsmen. The grassless, well-rolled strip, which carried a sheen on it, was a batsman’s dream and a bowler’s nightmare. Gilchrist’s prayers had been answered!

Sri Lanka’s pace ace, Chaminda Vaas, who over the years has not failed to give the initial break-through, was for once, out-thought and out-shone by the devastating Gilchrist. It would not be incorrect to state that the eventual result of the game was a consequence of Vaas’ s failure to get his usual early prey and Gilchrist’s dynamic hitting.

A very valid query should be addressed to the ICC and the Tour Management of both teams. Was a copy of the Duckworth-Lewis calculation system submitted to all participating teams and the relevant officials prior to the commencement of this momentous tournament? If such mandatory obligation had been fulfilled why were the concerned officials so much in the dark regarding the correct and wisest course of action? This oversight may, perhaps, have contributed in some measure to Sri Lanka’s miscalculation when chasing the required target. Without a doubt this vital aspect should have dawned on the parties concerned when dark clouds gathered in the distant horizon.It is pertinent to mention that a similar situation arose in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1999 where this writer officiated as Manager. After Zimbabwe had exceeded the two-hundred mark Sri Lanka went in search of victory. Around the half-way mark of the innings heavy dark clouds were threatening play. The Duckworth-Lewis calculation system had just come into force a couple of months earlier. Chief Executive Dave Ellmon Brown had ensured that a copy had reached this writer prior to the commencement of the first ODI

Having had a glance at the Duckworth-Lewis system it had registered in the writer’s mind that a match could be decided at the conclusion of a minimum of twenty overs. Anxious that rain could wash-out play this writer secured his copy of the Duckworth Lewis system and sought the assistance of Coach Dav Whatmore who was in the vicinity. As statistics were not our forte, neither was able to unravel the mysteries of this unusual puzzle. A few distinguished visitors in the VIP enclosure too found it confusing.

Thankfully a Sri Lankan cricket enthusiast happened to overhear our dilemma and sprang to the rescue. He was none other than Group Captain Sriyan Samararatne who was most certainly a God-send at that crucial moment. Samararatne proved equal to the task His well-studied analysis soothed our nerves, as he kept track of the runs, overs and wickets which are all involved in the D-L calculations. Russel Arnold and Upul Chandana changed gear with a flurry of strokes and ensured Sri Lanka beat the rain and Zimbabwe.

From the foregoing it is the writer’s candid opinion that the finger of guilt should be pointed not only at the two Umpires and the Match Referee but also at the Tour Management. Unfortunately, as is the usual practice, the stable door will be closed after the horse has bolted. –Wijeya Newspapers

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Interim committee to take up Gilchrist’s ball

Sri Lanka believes Adam Gilchrist’s use of a squash ball as a batting aid in the World Cup final was “unethical” and may take the matter up with world cricket chiefs, officials said Monday.

Gilchrist, whose record-breaking 149 led Australia to their fourth title, said later that he had a squash ball in one of his gloves to give him a better grip.

“I had a squash ball in my bottom-hand to help with my grip in training and I decided in this World Cup to use it in a match,” he said.

The revelation caused uproar here, with Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Kangadaran Mathivanan saying the matter could be taken up during next month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) annual general meeting.

“We are of the opinion that it was unethical for Gilchrist to use a squash ball to give unfair advantage,” Mathivanan told AFP.

He said Sri Lanka could call on the ICC’s cricket committee for stringent application of “Law 42” on fair and unfair play to ensure only the approved protection equipment was used.

Mathivanan said Sri Lanka Cricket would discuss the issue before deciding whether to raise it in London. via Wijeya Newspapers

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Adam Gilchrist Hook or by crook!

The game of cricket is full of purists like land mines buried on the peripheries of a war zone. Inevitably they blow up at the wrong moment and maim the wrong people.

By S R Pathiravithana

It was not so long ago we had the likes of Ian Chappell and Michael Holding screaming their guts out howling out to the ICC to probe into the dropping of two Sri Lankan players for their match against Australia in the super eights stage. The allegation was match fixing which tantamount to cheating. If those cricket purists were trying to make out that the Sri Lankan cricket hierarchy erred by the law of cricket in that game how would they describe the despicable Gilchrist stunt of hiding a foreign substance in his batting glove to get an undue advantage over the Sri Lankan bowlers who had bowled pretty well up to that stage in the World Cup.

When we were watching the onslaught by Gilchrist on the Lankan bowlers we were wondering as to how he got this new lease of life. A man who was struggling to live up to his potential was batting far beyond even his true capabilities. This normally belligerent Mathew Hayden looked like a passenger waiting at bus stand for a bus which was already late. : Gilchrist faced 104 balls and hit thirteen fours and eight sixes while all the other batsmen Hayden, Ponting, Symonds, Watson, in all faced 127 balls collectively and hit just seven fours and two sixes. And generally in the Australian camp it is Hayden and Symonds who are the batsmen who are reputed for their awesome massacre of bowlers. Nevertheless when we saw the unholy batting display of Gilchrist we accepted ‘seeing is believing’ and resigned ourselves to our fate.

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How legal?

JEROME GASPERSON writes from Australia: I read the article “How legal was Adam Gilchrist’s ‘hidden ball’?” You have very valid points and there are a few more unanswered questions that are worth pursuing further.

The other points to note are:
# Gilchrist never used the “squash ball” in the past and also in any of the other 10 games prior to the finals. Did the “squash ball” help?
# Gilchrist was out of form and didn’t score many runs in the whole World Cup tour apart from the finals. Did the “squash ball” provide Gilchrist the required assistance to bring him back to form?
# The World Cup final was between Sri Lanka and Gilchrist (not Australia). All other inform Australian batsmen were struggling to score except the out-of-form Gilchrist who had this “squash ball” to enhance his grip or did it?
# Most of his shots, mainly his eight sixes, were massive and cleared the grounds. Did the “squash ball” help?
# The number of sixes hit by Gilchrist amounts to eight in the finals, compared to two in the previous 10 games. Is it because of the “squash ball”?
# Gilchrist’s average without the last innings would have been a mere 30.40 compared to the 45.30 after the finals. Did the “squash ball” help to boost his average?
# Gilchrist’s strike rate without the last innings would have been 91.57 compared to the 103.89 after the finals. Again, did the “squash ball” provide that extra power?
Given the above and the points you raised, your natural tendency would be to believe that the “squash ball” might have given him that extra edge or did it?
His 2007 World Cup Statistics are as follows:
Matches 11, Innings 11, Not Out 1, Runs 453, Highest Score 149, Average 45.30, Balls faced 436, Strike rate 103.89, Hundreds 1, Fifties 2, Zeroes 0, Fours 58, Sixes 10.
I am not taking anything away from Adam Gilchrist’s excellent innings. That was an amazing innings which will be remembered by many for years to come. However, the question still remains: is it legal to use such equipment and will it provide assistance?

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Alas! But before we could get over bitterness of swallowing our pride the squash ball began to circle. As the news came by we read – “By Gilchrist’s own admission, he had ’something’ in his left glove all through his knock. In fact, upon reaching the century, Gilchrist first doffed his bat towards his teammates in the pavilion, acknowledged the applause of the spectators, and then kept repeatedly pointing to his left batting glove with his right hand.

At the post match press conference Gilchrist admitted that the message was directed to his Western Australian batting coach Bob Meuleman who is also a squash player of repute in his state. It is said that upon Meuleman’s advice, Gilchrist had been carrying a squash ball in his left, bottom hand to help him with his grip.

Then carrying a foreign substance which is not approved by the laws of cricket – does it look good on Australia’s legality of the World Cup win. We will just have a look at what Law number 3 of cricket laws have to say.

Cricket Law III

3.6. Conduct of the game, implements and equipment Before the toss and during the match, the umpires shall satisfy themselves that: (a) the conduct of the game is strictly in accordance with the Laws. (b) The implements of the game conform to the requirements of Laws 5 (the ball) and 6 (The bat), together with either Laws 8.2 (Size of stumps) and 8.3 (The bails) or, if appropriate, Law 8.4 (Junior Cricket). (c) (i) no player uses equipment other than that permitted. (ii) the wicket-keeper’s gloves comply with the requirements of Law 40.2 (Gloves).

Prior to this Dennis Lilee’s aluminium bat and Ricky Ponting’s graphite-coated bat were not permitted by the cricket authorities. At the same time Hansie Cronje’s earpiece stunt of having a chat with the coach Bob Woolmer while the match was in progress was also shot down in mid air by the authorities. Then the question that arises is did Gilchrist seek and obtain approval from the cricket’s authorities before he used such a device? Did he inform and seek approval from the match umpires and the opposing captain Mahela Jayawardena on such an experiment?

The laws of cricket are very precise on protective gear as given above. Then this device cannot be termed as a protective gear and only be termed as a power enhancing substance. Nowhere in the cricketing laws have they approved the squash ball as a protective gear.

Vijitha Herath of the University of Paderborn, Germany, writes on the issue:

Apropos the claim that Adam Gilchrist had a squash ball in his left glove during his innings at the finals of the cricket World Cup. Let me offer a scientific perspective.

A squash ball is a rubber ball. Unlike a cricket (leather) ball, it compresses when pressure is applied on it. When the pressure is released, it takes its original shape. In short, it acts like a spring (e.g.: a motorcycle shock absorber).

So what happens when a batsman has a squash ball in the palm of his bottom hand?

When a batsman swings the bat until it hits the ball, there is pressure on his bottom hand. This pressure compresses the squash ball thus storing energy in the ball similar to spring. Just after the ball hits the bat (ball still touching the bat) this pressure starts to relax while the bat is moving forward.

At the same time the energy stored in the squash ball releases its energy to the bat in the form of kinetic energy. The result is that the bat moves faster than normal (without a ball in the glove).

As a result, the release-speed of the cricket ball becomes faster resulting in the ball travelling further before hitting the ground. Therefore it results in more sixes and fours being scored.

The downside is because the bat travels faster than normal the batsman might lose control of the bat. This happened once in the Adam Gilchrist’s innings when the bat slipped out of his hands and fell behind the wickets. If you have any doubts please try to do it yourself and see the result.

In brief Gilchrist’s use of the squash ball allowed him to hit the ball further in the field.

The above explanation clearly gives you an insight into the fact that the squash ball was used not purely as a protective gear but, as a performance enhancer to a player who was playing his last World Cup innings and did not care of the consequences, but was hell bent on rubbing some glory upon himself.

Then at a beauty pageant if the winner is discovered as person with an immoral past she is stripped off her title. In athletics if a participant is found that he/she has taken performance enhancing drugs they are relieved from their titles. But, what action are the authorities hoping to take on this under hand act? How would the so called purists describe this deliberate breach of cricket law?

Can Mr. Ian Chappell or some purist explain this to me?

Finally just see the Australian ingenuity –the blessings of 33 million deities which the entire country sought could not bring Sri Lanka victory, but, one little squash ball hidden by an over zealous cricketer inside his batting glove was able to give Australia that much sought after cricket’s biggest gift with consummate ease.

P.S. According to a high ranking SLC official its hierarchy had met on the issue but, had arrived at the notion that though it does not permit a foreign object inside the batting glove, it also does not prevent anyone from having it. He also does not want the Aussies to feel that we are cry babies. via Sunday Times

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How legal was Adam Gilchrist’s hidden ball?

(IANS) Two days after Adam Gilchrist’s slaughter of the lambs in the World Cup final, cricket’s fans and fanatics are still coming to terms with the onslaught that fetched 149 off just 103 balls and took the truncated game away from the Lankans even before they began their reply.

But, how legal was the wicket keeper’s innings?

And, as a direct corollary, therefore, how authentic was Australia’s ’Cup triumph’? Bloggers especially churmuri.com have raised this pertinent question.

By Gilchrist’s own admission, he had ’something’ in his left glove all through his knock. In fact, upon reaching the century, Gilchrist first doffed his bat towards his teammates in the pavilion, acknowledged the applause of the spectators, and then kept repeatedly pointing to his left batting glove with his right hand.

’I had a little message, to wave to someone at home in Australia about something in my glove,’ he is quoted as saying at the post-match media conference.

The intended recipient of that little message was his batting coach and former Western Australia player Bob Meuleman, also a noted squash player. Turns out that upon Meuleman ’s advice, Gilchrist had been carrying a squash ball in his left, bottom hand to help him with his grip.

’His (Meuleman’s) last words to me before I left the indoor training centre where I train with him in Perth were, ’Well, if you are going to use it (squash ball), make sure when you score a hundred in the final you show me and prove to me you got it in there’. I had stayed true to that.’

That’s as clear a confirmation that Gilchrist had the squash ball in his left glove to help him with his grip during his stupendous knock. But that’s also where questions over the legality of Gilchrist’s innings, or the seeming lack of it, come in.

Can a batsman carry an object – in this case, a squash ball not connected with cricket – to help him on the field? Did he secure the prior permission of the umpires? Was the fielding side captain aware of the use of the squash ball? Did Mahela Jayawardene approve its use?…..And, above all, and in a manner of speaking, did Gilchrist’s ’hidden ball’ give him an unfair advantage in knocking the daylights out of the Lankan bowlers?

These are hypothetical questions, of course, but cricket – a sport governed by mighty laws not lowly rules – is always full of ifs and buts that leaves cricket haters plain mystified but keeps cricket lovers breathlessly debating the whys and wherefores till kingdom come.

A quick recap of cricketing laws shows that Gilchrist’s squash ball was, therefore, neither a piece of protective equipment, nor clothing item and was most certainly not visible to either side or the umpires.

The law specifically prohibits a player from using equipment other than that permitted. And nowhere in cricket’s 42 laws is there a mention of a squash ball as a permitted item.

If Dennis Lilee’s aluminium bat and Ricky Ponting’s graphite-coated bat could be deemed illegal, if Hansie Cronje’s earpiece experiment was not OK, if Scott Styris had to remove all the bandage from his right hand before he could bowl in the super eight match, can Adam Gilchrist’s ’hidden ball’ pass muster?

No law can, of course, take the sheen away from Gilchrist’s knock. Batting with a normal grip against the world’s best bowlers is tough enough, batting with a squash ball in one of your gloves is worse. To score 149 scintillating runs is, well, incredible.

Still, two questions arise: If using a squash ball isn’t ok as per the laws of the game, is his innings legal and does it count? And if it doesn’t count, can Australia claim to have won a hopelessly one-sided and farcical victory?

(The author is editor of www.churumuri.com and can be reached at krishnaprasad@rediffmail.com)

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