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10th September 2000

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Under 23 cricket

Bandara bowls NCC to outright victory

By Marlon Fernandopulle

Leg spinner Malinga Bandara picked up a matchbag of 10 for 69 to help NCC rout Old Antonians by 10 wickets in a under 23 division one game at Maitland Place yesterday.

Batting first Antonians were bowled out for 158 with Malinga Bandara and Ishara Amarasinghe claiming four wickets each.NCC in reply hit up 217/ for 7 with Susantha Pradeep top scoring with 69. Pradeep was associated in two productive stands that helped NCC to a match-winning total.First he added 87 with Johanes Jayasuriya (60) for the 2 nd wicket and later 69 for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara(47).

Trailing by 59 runs on the first innings the visitors were made to struggle for runs in their second innings.Malinga Bandara once again produced some deceptive deliveries with his leg spinners and picked up six wickets to send Antonians crashing to 82 all out.

NCC knocked off the required 27 needed for victory to record an outright victory.

Old Antonians - 158 & 82 all out (Janaka Wannakawatte 28; Ishara Amarasinghe 3/29, Malinga Bandara 6/23)

NCC-217/7 decl.(Johanes Jayasuriya 60, Susantha Pradeep 69. Kumar Sangakkara 47; Ruchira Jayasinghe 2/7, Fleming Joseph 2/31 & 27/0.

Dihara rescues SSC

Sri Lanka Test cap Dilhara Fernando struck a whirlwind half century to rescue SSC in their under 23 encounter against Negombo CC at Maitland Place.

Batting first SSC were reeling at 111 for nine before Fernando (66) and last man I. Ratnaweera(16) added 80 runs for the last wicket to bring some respectability to the total. Fernando who is better known for his lively medium pacers struck nine boundaries in his 57- ball knock to help SSC to a challenging total.

For the visitors medium pacer Ashan Dias (4/27) and off spinner Ruwan Fernando (5/69) did most of the damage.

Negombo CC who are making their debut in the big league this year made a bold reply to be 59 for the loss of one wicket by the close.

SSC-191 all out (Ian Daniels 26 Suresh Perera 19 Muditha Fernando 17 Dilhara Fernando 66 I. Ratnaweera 16 Ashan Dias 4/27 Ruwan Fernando 5/69)

Negombo - CC-59/1 at close.

Liyanage cracks 65

A fighting half century from I. Liyanage helped Matara SC to 183 for 9 against Bloomfield at Reid Avenue yesterday.

Bloomfield won the toss and invited Matara SC to take first lease of the wicket after overnight rain washed off the morning session.

Liyanage stood firm with a fine 65 and held the Matara innings together after Bloomfield medium pacer Chamara Zoysa threatened to run through the innings.The right arm medium pacer from Ambalangoda troubled the home side with his lively pace and picked up seven wickets in a tidy spell. Matara SC -183/9 at close(S. A. Wasantha 31 I Liyanage 65 Chamara Zoysa 7/51 Manjuka Perera 2/31)


Blood test for Olympic participants

Two firsts will be the order of the day when the Sydney Olympics are declared open on Friday September 15 with a fireworks display at the Darling Harbour in Sydney.

The two firsts are that Sri Lanka will be sending their largest contingent to the Games and the second that every participant will be blood tested before their participation.

The World Anti-doping Agency [WADA] will conduct the blood test which has been agreed upon by all 28 International Olympic Summer Federations. According to WADA the International Gymnastics Federation and the International Volleyball Federation who delayed their agreement has now agreed to these blood tests.

Media Centre

The Main Press Centre [MPC] which will house about 5,500 print journalists has been completed on a site of a series of cattle and horse pavilions at a cost of $25 million. The MPC is located in the Olympic Park about 20 km [12 miles] from Sydney and is within walking distance af 14 of the 28 sports taking place. There is a separate broadcast centre which houses the television and radio rights holders for the Games, when it becomes fully operational, it will be the largest functional broadcasting facility in the world.

Athletes to be taxed

Overseas athletes who profit from medal-winning performances at the Games have been warned they could be taxed when they leave Australia. The Australian Taxation Office has stated that all overseas athletes will be treated like Australians for taxation purposes during the Games. However, the rule applies only to money they are paid while in Australia.

Football

Though the Games' opening ceremony is to be held on Friday September 15, the matches in Football in the games will kick-off on Wednesday September 13 with six matches down for decision, four men and two women. The matches to be played on September 13 will be Nigeria vs Honduras in Adelaide, Australia vs Italy in Melbourne, Cameroon vs Kuwait in Brisbane, United States vs Czech Republic in Canberra while Australia will take on Germany in the Women's match in Canberra and Sweden will battle Brazil in Melbourne. On Thursday September 14 too six matches are down for decision, South Korea vs Spain in Adelaide, Morocco vs Chile in Melbourne, Brazil vs Slovakia in Brisbane and South Africa vs Japan in Canberra in the men's section and United States meeting Norway in Melbourne and China vs Nigeria in Canberra in the womens section.

Rewards

Money and houses has been promised to the medal winners from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus.

Sri Lanka

The two swimmers are the first to come out for participation in the games. These two are wild card entries with no chances of winning a medal at all. Likewise the much talked about athletes winning medals is only a distant hope, going by the officials timing recorded by the leading athletes from the other countries. Winning a gold in the 13th Asian Track and Field championships in Jakarta does not go anywhere near the Olympic timings.

The only possibility is that Susanthika Jayasinghe with a little bit of luck could qualify for one of the semi finals in the 200 metres and the 4x400 metres men relay team too could qualify to one of the semi finals. The others will be also runs. The Sri Lanka team will be:

ATHLETES

Sugath Tilakaratne 400m, 4x400; 2. Rohan Pradeep Kumara 400m, 4x400; 3. Ranga Wimalawansa 4x400; 4. V. Ratnekumara 4x400 5. A.S.A. Fernando 4x400 6. M. Lanka Perera 4x40; 7. Harijan Ratnayaka 400m Hurdles; 8. Sarath Gamage Marathon; 9. Susanthika Jayasinghe 100, 200, 4x400m; 10. Damayanthi Darsha 200, 400, 4x400m; 11. Sriyani Kulawansa 100m Hurdles, 4x100;12. Pradeepa Herath 4x100m; 13. Nimmi de Soyza 4x100m; 14. Tamara S. Deepika 4x100m;

SHOOTING Ruwani Abeymanne Pistol event; 2. Malini Wickramasinghe Air Rifle event

SWIMMING

1. Conrad Francis 100m Butterfly; 2. Theekshana Ratnasekara 50m Free Style

YACHTING

Lalin Jirasinhe, FINN Class


Well done boys keep it up

By Leonard Ratnayake

The future of Sri Lanka's test cricket seems to be in safe hands with the country's Under 19 Youth team's recent performance against the strong English counterparts.

Following the national team's supremacy over the Englishmen in test cricket, which was proved two years ago in England. England are still reluctant to play a regular test series with Sri Lanka.

"It was a nice feeling to beat the English lads in England and we have beaten our masters on their homesoil" said a delightful Under-19 Kaushalya Weeraratne, the captain of the Sri Lankan team which arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Sunday with a 2-1 series win in the Test Series. He said that it had been altogether a good experience for all of them, who has now got an idea of playing on fast wickets with climatic conditions conducive for pace bowling. The motivating factor behind their win in the test series, according to Weeraratne is the determination and the unity of the players who wanted to batter the Englishmen after losing the One-day series.

After being acclamatized to the English conditions, the Lankan never lost the grip which they were struggling to find at the beginning of the tour and went to stage a strong comeback to win the last two test matches after losing the first test at Trentbridge. " It was a fast track at Trentbridge and we failed to adopt quickly to the condition, but it became a good lesson for all of us which was productive in the end." said a learning Weeraratne, who is Sri Lanka's new found all rounder. It is reported that after Sri Lanka's victory over Natwest English counterparts, the English media had carried many a reports saying that "Englishmen were taught cricket by Lankans".


Singer Int. 'sevens' has come to stay...

By Bernie Wijesekera

The Singer Sri Lanka sewed up with Kandy S.C. sponsoring the first international 'sevens' here last year June 1999 at the Hill Capital. It has not only come to stay but also has roused tremendous interest. It will be in the ARFU calendar besides the HK 'Sevens' started in 1976.

It culminated in 1999 as part of Kandy S.C.'s 125th anniversary celebrations with ten teams participating. It also helped put Sri Lanka rugby in the world map and focused interest among the rugby playing nations in the region after its first trial run. This year 16 nations lined up with five teams from Europe - Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic and Sweden.

But Sweden withdrew due to reasons best known to themselves. A team from the Arabian Gulf, too joined the scrum. In the end it provided three days of exciting rugby sandwiched by a schools tournament to encourage and harness young talent for the future.

Thrills and spills

In the end it provided thrills and spills aplenty on and off the field. The orgnisation was excellent barring a few hiccups where media facilities was concerned.

But it was sorted out and taken notice of for the future. As a journalist, who have travelled abroad these shortcomings do occur in any walk of life, but one must not forget to give credit where it is due. The organising committee of this Rugby Singer Sir Lanka Rugby Sevens - 2000 chaired by Izwan Omar left no stone unturned.

Put aside petty issues which breeds animosity. But one must not forget that Kandy Sports Club, supported by its title sponsor Singer Sri Lanka headed by Hemaka Amerasuriya, Sri Lankan Air Lines and Connaissance De Ceylan Ltd., has helped to put Sri Lanka rugby in the world map.

The IRB is sure to take notice of its ability to stage an international contest put aside a 'sevens' tournament.

Forget about other issues. There is no land without stones or meat without hones. The visiting teams when interviewed by The Sunday Times commended about the organisation and the hospitality afforded to them.

It was par excellence. They promised to come here again with a bigger contingent (tourists). The Emerald Isle which is a tourist attraction, unfortunately at present is plagued by evils of racial prejudices.

Chris Padfield, the Welsh International, who has helped Sri Lanka rugby in many spheres, was here to give his expert comments.

Without doubt Sri Lanka's performances in this tournament was excellent. They have improved their skills with their fine co-ordination - running and passing game, since I saw them last.

It was great to hold the ultimate champs Chinese Taipei 19-all in the first game to enter the quarters outclassed Czech Republic 40-10 to enter the semis, said Padfield. Sri Lanka had to meet Taipei in the semi-finals, but lost the tie in a rousing contest 24-19.

What went wrong? Taipei under pressure gives of their best and no let up.

They won the Cup championship by dethroning defending champions S. Korea. But I still rate S. Korea as the best side.

That means "Lady Luck" was with them? You are right.

I rate Sri Lanka behind Germany - placed fourth team of the tournament. Sri Lanka should have beaten Taipei to enter the final with dazzling runner like Sanjeewa Jayasinghe, but in the second half didn't win much possession due to a light pack in the scrums.

Playing youth pays dividends in any sport. You are right. Taipei won against Sri Lanka as they possessed the stamina and fire-power to last. Sri Lanka as a team played with unison where everyone contributed under Indrajit Bandaranayake. Don't you think that Jayasinghe should have been the man of the series? If it was on my own I could have given the nod. But it was a committee decision. I've to abide by it.

What about the foreign teams? Germany playing for the first time here, impressed. They are a competent side. They lost to S. Korea 19-17 speaks well for their efforts. Denmark, too needs watching. All in all it was an excellent tournament. A special word should go to KSC President Dr. Sarath Kapuwatte and his indefatigable committee.

But one must not forget rugby promoter Malik Samarawickrema. It was his brainchild to make the 'sevens' a reality. When players are sponsors, then the game stands to benefit. Hemaka Amerasuriya, Arjun Dharmadasa and Malik belong to this category joined by Kumar Abeywardena, who is promoting the game in S. Province with his personal interest.

Among the schools it was dominated by Kandy. St. Anthony's drubbed Kingswood to win the Cup. The plate went to Trinity when they defeated St. Peter's on a cliffhanger - 21-19. Along with Vidyartha and St. Sylvesters, five teams were at the finish. It augurs well for the future of rugby in Kandy.

In the past Trinity was the only team to make an impact. It shows that the game has made much headway, thanks to its infrastructure with knowledgeable men holding office with proper coaching. More talented players means more sponsorship packages.

Fittingly, the organisers have picked Kandy with a tradition for rugby as its venue. There are three stadiums which could stage an international match at Nittawela, Bogambara and joined by Pallekelle, before long. It's going to be the catalyst for rugby in the future.

In the past Kandy S.C. even had to struggle to survive and even hadn't the funds to keep their fixtures away from home. At that time its secretary was hardworking Leslie de Zoysa. It was brought to light in the media by (B.W.) the Colombo Clubs rallied around to help them. The Services teams and the Police too helped them in their hour of need.

Despite setbacks they were able to produce some great players like late Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Y.C. Chang, Ajith Abeyratne, Tikiri Marambe, Jupana Jayawardena and legendary Kavan Rambukwelle etc. Later most of them migrating to Colombo Clubs. Undaunted KSC were still able to survive and came back to their own with a set of dedicated officials, who put the game before self.

Today they are in a position of strength to help those who assisted them in their hour of need.

Promote more clubs

Kandy should do well to promote more clubs in the district, otherwise talent will be lost. The Rugby Union must take notice of rather than putting it on white paper. Clubs have pulled their shutters down due to lack of encouragement and support.

What has happened to clubs like K'gala S.C., Petersons S.C. etc. There is a glut of young talent in the Hill Capital, with some of them moving to Colombo Clubs.

One time struggling for its very survival at present has acumen to hold an international 'sevens' and put Sri Lanka in the world map after Sri Lanka climbed the Everest in 1996 winning the World Cup cricket final at Lahore.

The success attributes to officials who had professional background to run its affairs but not figureheads.

Well done Kandy SC!

Finally, a word of praise should also go to the selection panel headed by Tikiri Marambe, a burly manager Iqbal Hassan and coach Nimal Lewke for a job well done for Sri Lanka to enter the semi-finals for the first time in any form of Int. 'Sevens' rugby. In 1984, Sri Lanka won the Bowl in the H.K. 'Sevens', under Hisham Abdeen. In the evening the visiting teams, officials and guests were hosted to dinner at La Kandyan Resorts.

Track & field events 400 metres

Sydney Olympic competitors: Sugath Tilekeratne/Rohan Pradeep Kumar

World record: 43.18 Michael Johnson [USA] 1999

Olympic Record: 43.49 Michael Johnson [USA] 1996

Sri Lanka Record: 45.25 Rohan Pradeep Kumara 2000

4x400 Metres Relay

Sydney Olympic Competitors: Sugath Tilekaratne/Rohan Pradeep Kumar, Ranga Wimalawansa/V. Ratnakumara

World Record: 2:54.29 USA 1999

Olympic Record: 2:55.74 USA 1992

400 Metres Hurdles

Sydney Olympic Competitor: Harijan Ratnayake

World Record: 46.78 Kevin Young [USA] 1992

Olympic Record: 46.78 Kevin Young [USA] 1992

Sri Lanka Record: 50.11 Harijan Ratnayake 2000

Marathon/42.195 Km or 26 Miles 385 Yards

Sudney Olympic Competitor: Sarath Gamage

World's Best Time: 2:06.50 Belayneh Densimo 1997

Olympic Best Time: 2:09.21 Carlos Lopes [Portugal] 1984

100 Meters

Sydney Olympic Competitor: Susanthika Jayasinghe

World Record: 10.49 Florence Griffith-Joyner [USA] 1988

Olympic Record: 10.62 Florence Griffith-Joyner [USA] 1988

Sri Lanka Record: 11.27 Susanthika Jayasinghe 1998

200 Meters

Sydney Olympic Competitors: Damayanthi Darsha/Susanthika Jayasinghe

World Record: 21.34 Florence Griffith-Joyner [USA] 1988

Olympic Record: 21.34 Florence Griffith-Joyner [USA] 1988

Sri Lanka record: 22.23 Susanthika Jayasinghe 1995

400 Metres

Sydney Olympic Competitor: Damayanthi Darsha

World Record: 47.60 Marita Toch [Germany] 1985

Olympic Record: 48.25 Marie Jose Perec [France] 1996

Sri Lanka Record: 52.12 Damayanthi Darsha 2000

4x400 Meters [Women's] Relay

Sydney Olympic Competitors: Damayanthi Darsha/Sriyani Kulawansa Fonseka, Susanthika Jayasinghe/Pradeepa Herath/Nimmi de Soyza/ Thamara S. Deepika

World Record: 41.37 Germany 1985

Olympic Record: 41.60 Germany 1980

Sri Lanka Record: 45.65 National Team 1998

Shooting

Pistol

Ruwani Abeymanne

World Record: 699.4 Rajmond Debevec [Slovania] 1996

Olympic Record: 695.7 Artem Khadzhivekov [Russia] 1996

Air Rifle

Malini Wickremasinghe

World Record: 501.5 Vessela Letcheva [Bulgaria] 1994

Olympic Record: 498.5 Irina Shilova [Soviet Union] 1988

100 Metres Hurdles/Women

Sydney Olympic Competitor: Sriyani Kulawansa Fonseka

World Record: 12.21 Yodanka Donkova [Bulgaria] 1988

Olympic Record: 12.38 Yodanka Donkova [Bulgaria] 1988

Sri Lanka Record: 13.25 Sriyani Kulawansa 1999

Swimming

Conrad Francis: 100 Metres Butterfly Stroke

Theekshana Ratnasekera: 50 and/or 100 Metres Free-style


In brief

Pushpakumara & Ganegama head averages

Anandians Muthumudalige Pushpakumara and Akalanka Ganegama lead the batting and bowling averages for Sri Lanka Under-19 in the recently concluded three Test series against England.

Pushpakumara, the architect of the second Test victory, accumulated 224 runs at an average of 44.8 inclusive of one century.

The all rounder was followed by Jehan Mubaraq (197 runs at an average of 32.83) and Malintha Gajanayake (101 at an average of 20.20). In the bowling department medium pacer Akalanka Ganegama picked up 11 wickets at an average of 11.63.

His 11 wickets included a match winning 10 wicket haul in the third Test which helped Sri Lanka register a 2-1 series victory. Apart from Ganegama, Pushpakumara (7), Thilina Kandamby (8) and Ranil Dhammika (8) were the other successful bowlers. (MF)

World Provincial Cricket Tournament

A four Nation cricket tournament involving the winners of domestic One-day competition will be worked off for the first time in Australia next year. New Zealand, India and South Africa have been invited to send their Champion teams in their domestic tournaments to compete in the inaugural One-day tournament in Perth in April. According to New Zealand Cricket's Operations Manager John Reid there has been a lot of interest in staging a World Provincial Championship of this nature, and next year's tournament may serve as a forerunner for that competition. (MF)

Peradeniya Doctors' win

The friendly annual cricket match between Peradeniya and Colombo doctors was held recently at Health Ministry Grounds.

This match was hosted by the Colombo doctors. The match was limited to 25 overs due to unfavourable weather conditions. Batting first the Peradeniya doctors scored 122 runs in their allocated 25 overs. Where Colombo doctors could get only 115 runs.

The match was keenly contested resulting in a win for the Peradeniya doctors.

The winning team comprised of Dr. Ashan Gunaratne, Dr. Eusuf Ali (captain), Dr. U. Dangahadeniya, Dr. Kshemendra Tilakaratne, Dr. Arinda, Dr. Harendra, Dr. Jayawardena, Dr. Chandana and Dr. Lasitha.

Thuhashini wins Arizona golf championships

Thuhashini Selvaratnam did Sri Lanka proud by winning the Arizona state stroke play championship ship by 10 shots Earlier Thuhashini taking part in the Arizona State Amateur Stroke - Play Championships was leading by 1 shot after the first day's play and 10 shots after the second day on Wednesday.

Thuhashini has been selected to play in a team championships for Arizona against Utah and will play in all the Arizona championships for the rest of the year.

A few months ago Thuhashini was placed 13th in the British Ladies Open Amateur Golf Championships but failed to make it into the match-play rounds of the USA Ladies Open which was completed recently.

The cut-off point for the 64 qualifiers was 154 and Thuhashini went round in 157 (79, 78).

Her mother Suwen who caddied for her, said it was a much tougher course, hilly and demanding with narrow and long fairways.The overnight rain made the course damp and it played longer than the par 71.

She added that there were several excellent young American girls between the ages of 14 years and 20 years taking part.

As Suwen was already in the States and with her 7 handicap was eligible to play in the seniors over 50 years, she decided to have a go.

However her scores of 80,81,83 (the second best score) was not good enough as only one player was allowed to compete from Arizona, and she was selected as the alternate player.

She has returned with fresh ideas on the modern methods of training young golfers.


Nugegoda Joes clinch Eva open netball title

St. Joseph's College Nugegoda emerged Under 19 schools section winners when they defeated home town rivals Anula Vidyalaya by 23-12 in the Western Province 'Eva' open league netball tournament worked off at Police Park amidst a large gathering yesterday.

In the Under 15 category among the school section Kalut-ara Balika Vidyalaya triumphed over St. Joseph's College Nugegoda by 23-7.

The Under 12 section was clinched by Srimavo Bandaranaike Balika Vidyalaya when they prevailed over St Joseph's College Nugegoda team by 10-6.

P. M. Ruwanthika Nadeeshani of Pannala National School was chosen as the best player of the Under 19 segment, while W. D. Shanika Dilhani of Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya carried away the best player of the tournament award in the Under 15 category.

Aloka Navarathne of Sirimavo Bandaran-aike B. V was adjudged as the best player of the tournament in the Under 12 section.

Senarath Kapukot-uwa Group Director of the Maharaja Organization who was the Chief Guest at the finals gave way the respective awards while Ranjith Jayathileke, Sports Director of the Ministry of Education, and Mrs Tamara Herath President of the Netball Federation graced the occasion as Guests of Honour.

This 'Eva' open league netball tournament which was conducted by the Western Province Netball Association was sponsored by ICL Marketing (PVT) Ltd.

Mrs Rio Ramlan one of the Vice Presidents of the WPNA speaking to the Sunday Times was pleased with the successful completion of this year's league tournament and expressed confidence of its success in the future. Meanwhile the results of the 'C', 'B' and 'E' divisions which was to be completed yesterday was not received by The Sunday Times at the time of this edition going to press. (J.K)


Sebs celebrate

Unveiling of the portraits of former college cricket captains will be the highlight of the old boys day of St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa which is to be held on September 13 beginning at 8.30 a.m. at the College grounds. The portraits will be placed in the pavilion.

Several events including basketball, volleyball have been organised for the old boys who attend the event.


Rover pinpoints

May be arrested

An Indoor sports body was restrained from sending their team for a foreign meet, but alas they are supposed to have slipped off, inspite of this order. One wonders if they will be arrested on arrival. A senior official of this sports body is heard going around stating that the Minister concerned is in his pocket. What a statement to make!

Big money

The Asian Athletic Championships is to be hosted by Sri Lanka in the year 2002. The expenses involved in hosting this championships is to be around Rs. 200 Million as stated by the big mouth closer to the Minister. But Rover was told by a former official that he could organise this meet with all expenditure involved for half the amount. Who is trying pocket the money.

Who appointed this coach

Sri Lanka Basketball Federation Executive committee appointed Mr. Lalith Silva who produced the best school team to coach the youth and under 18 boys teams for the ABC Tounaments in Malaysia and Qatar respectively. But just two days before the tour to Qatar the Vice President with dual Citizenship ordered the coach appointed by the SLBF to get-out and he took over the team and went on the tour. The senior member of the SLBF Exco informed Rover of the high handed act of this coach who always ensures to go on trips where young boys go to play basketball.

Who selected this player

Rover is informed by the players who went on the tour to Qatar for the under 18 ABC tournament that the son of former treasurer and present Vice President of the SLBF join the team when he had not attended the practices and the selectors had not selected this player. Who authorized the coach to give Sri Lanka colours to this player?

Nine officials to Qatar

Sri Lanka Basketball Federation had sent nine officials for the under 18 ABC tournament held at Qatar. Most of the members of the SLBF EXCO is informed the Rover that even at the Exco meeting held just two days before the tour was not inform about the large number of officials going on this tour. Who approved the names of the officials? Incidentally this is the second foreign tour where unwanted number of officials had gone abroad in the name of Basketball.


A matter of the mind

To be successful at the highest level of the game requires mental perfectness just as much as ability and technical soundness. Every sportsperson requires a perfect psychological balance between spontaneousness and control. Such an aim is shared in many professions in life. All creative activity from being a teacher or coach to directing a film, requires this delicate and difficult balancing act. No one can reliably achieve and maintain such an aim, but most sports people have moments when they can grasp this happy state.

Spontaneousness arises from passion, from self-acceptance, from freedom. It is not possible to work at this head-on. One can't achieve spontaneity by earnest endeavour.

A cricketer, like all other sports-people, becomes successful by a combination of natural qualities, training and ability; but the hardest quality to put a finger on, let alone train up, is strength and freedom of character, the capacity to make full use of one's talents spontaneously. This requires courage and endurance, flair and patience; the ability to rise with passion to the occasion, with a certain inner calm. To be mentally aware and have a sense of when it is best to take risks and when to dig in and consolidate. The need arises to retain confidence even when out of form and then be open to constructive criticism.

A player needs to be in tune with reality; both external reality-knowing who he is competing against and the conditions of pitch and time, and internal reality-knowing his limitations without losing touch with his strengths (or vice versa).

Cricket is unique. Of all ball games cricket is one of the slowest, and longest-lasting. It is probably the only one where a single match can be scheduled for five days, at the end of which there may be no winner or loser. This length of time means that excitement and adrenaline cannot carry one far, whilst there is room for epic struggles, in which the tension gnaws agonisingly as it mounts to a final climax.

The top class cricketer needs to be dogged; able to endure long and arduous contests and attritious that are an inevitable part of drawn-out battles. Pitch conditions change radically, within a single game, sometimes even within a day.

A cricketer has to flexible and resourceful. There is an entire wide variety of skills. The complete batsman is faced neither by the physical threat posed by an Akthar, Lee or a Donald, nor by the intricate wiles of a Warne, Saqlain or a Muralitharan. Cricket, is a game of individual contest within a team, unlike soccer on the one side or golf on the other.

A game of mighty battles between principle performers, but also contests in which one man stands out against all that a team can throw against him. Cricket also embraces pairings-stirring partnerships, as between Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Greenidge and Haynes, Atherton and Stewart, or, between bowlers hunting in tandem, like Lillee and Thomson, Walsh and Ambrose, Wasim and Waqar.

Even quartets like Bedi, Chandrasekar, Prasanna and Venkat or Holding, Garner, Marshall and Croft.

This sport, like other sports, calls for marital qualities; courage, aggression, steadfastness, cunning, strength. The all-round ideal combines the all out passionate aggression of Wasim Akram to the never-say-die, back-to-wall efforts of Steve Waugh.

It includes the unflinching optimism of the less favoured - Ranatunga, de Silva, Muralitharan, Gangully, Tendulkar, Lara, Walsh carrying the fight to the current Australians or South Africans - with their relentless ambition to maintain supremacy. All sorts of these diverse human qualities may be enlisted in the fight to achieve success. The sportsmanship and antics add up to the bargain.

Those who are capable of playing the mind games as well as the sport itself are the ones who reach the top and stay there.


Sonny Yatawara passes away

Sonny Yatawara one of Sri Lanka's fastest bowlers passed away recently thus ending an illustrious career in Sri Lanka's cricket history.

Yatawara's finest moment came when he uprooted Sir Garfield Sobers stumps when the West Indies were here on a whistle stop tour here which will be in the minds of the people here.

Yatawara played for Ananda and Dharmaraja and was one of the finest bowlers in that era. After leaving school he represented Saracens and Sinhalese Sports Club.

Yatawara was so fast that when bowling in a match against St. Peter's he sent four Peterites to hospital with his bowling. He was so fast that no one could face him and schoolboy cricketers shied away from facing his 'snorters', for fear of being injured.

Yatawara played against some of the finest cricketers in the world. Well-known commentator Premasara Epasinghe was one of the players who had the privilege to play against him.

Epasinghe played for Nalanda in the 1957 'Big match' when Sonny Yatawara turned out for Ananda. According to Epa, some Nalanda cricketers were so afraid of Yatawara's bowling and their knees trembled at the thought of facing Yatawara at his best. Saif Izzadeen


Five records in Badulla

Five new meet records were established on the opening day of the 14th national youth sports festival, which began at the Vincent Dias stadium in Badulla yesterday.

M.A.D.Manchanayake from Kegalle set up a new mark in the festival's first event itself, which was the Men's 10.000 meters finishing in a time of 32:20.50 to erase the mark of 32:32.70 of Nishantha Udayasiri which was established in 1998.

Ajith Susantha Katulanda of Kegalle timed 21.8 in winning the men's 200 metres to break the earlier mark of 22.0, which was set up by Rohana Amarasinghe in 1994.

In the women's 200 metre final, M.G.Lalana Shanthi of Hambantota won the race with a time of 25.8, which bettered Thamara Saman Deepika's 1995 record of 26.00.

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