7th February 1999
Sri Lankan martial artistes can now look forward to receiving an university degree in martial arts through the Society of Martial Arts.
This non-profit organisation which has its headquarters in UK, is the brainchild of Dr. Eugene de Silva; a Sri Lankan living in UK. Dr. de Silva himself a martial artist designed this world's first ever degree in martial arts that now enables practitioners to obtain an university degree and then to pursue post-graduate studies. "The martial arts have now received its ultimate recognition.
The art once originated as a way of life, has now completed the full circle and has reached its highest status.
"The setting up of the Society of Martial Arts which also has a branch in Sri Lanka has given the opportunity to many who longed for such recognition", said Dr. de Silva.
The degree system includes subjects such as philosophy and history of martial arts, physiology, psychology, anatomy and analysis of movements etc.
Dr. de Silva who was in Sri Lanka last week promoting the Society holds two Ph.Ds and is currently working with the University of Salfors, UK. He is a past student of St. Joseph's College, Colombo 10 and the Institute of Chemistry.
The Principal of the Sri Lanka branch is Cyril Antony who will receive his fellowship in the UK next year.
The other martial artists likely to receive fellowships for their contribution to the development of martial arts in Sri Lanka are Bonny Roberts, G.A.T.Livera, Ajith Jayakody and Prasanna Jayaweera. Anybody interested in the course can contact Cyril Antony on 933111.
By Senaka Weeraratna
With the visit of the Sri Lankan cricket team to Australia for the one-day series, we present two pieces from the pen of Senaka Weeraratna, LL.B., LL.M., a former Victorian Solicitor now based in Darwin. Senaka is a key literary proponent of the Third Umpire, and here presents a view of Australian-Sri Lanka cricket which contrasts refreshingly from the picture currently presented by some sections of the media.
The love and passion for cricket among Australians and Sri Lankans is emerging as one of the strongest links between their two countries and this bond through cricket is growing stronger as the years pass by.
Sri Lanka which obtained admission to the rank of Test playing nations with full mebership of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) in 1982, is now a leading cricket playing nation and has strong claims to being the premier in respect of attractiveness in batting. Its rise to champion status in the one-day game in the 1990s is one of the miracles in the history of cricket.
Sri Lanka's victory over Australia in the World Cup final played in Lahore in 1996 was the finale of a drama that commenced on Australian soil a few months earlier.
The last visit of the Sri Lankan cricket team to Australia in 1995-96 produced some of the most bitterly contested matches in the World Series Cricket tournament since its inception, and drew capacity crowds. It generated both excitement and controversy on a scale never seen in recent times in Australia.
An added dimension in crowd behaviour, largely unseen in other international cricket matches, was the colourful cheering demonstrated by enthusiastic flag-waving Sri Lankan expatriates who unfailingly attended these matches en masse. It was during this tour that Sri Lanka adopted a revolutionary approach to batting in the one-day game. The prevailing wisdom until then was that the batting side should play the first 15 overs cautiously and take risks in the last 15 overs. The Sri Lankan openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana instead tore into the bowling attack from the very first ball to the great amazement of conventional pundits. The attacking quality of cricket unleashed by Sri Lanka has now been adopted by several senior cricketing nations.
Cricket has been played in Sri Lanka for over 160 years. In 1884, the first Australian Cricket Team played in Sri Lanka. In the era of gracious ocean liners, Australian and English cricketers travelling to each other's country, often broke journey in Colombo to play against Ceylon teams. Legendary cricketers such as Dr. W.G. Grace, Hobbs, Hammond, Larwood and Hutton from England and Bradman, Hassett, Miller and Harvey from Australia have graced the playing fields of Sri Lanka.
In 1936, a schoolboy cricket team from Sri Lanka Royal College, Colombo toured Australia and played 5 matches altogether in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. This visit is now regarded as the first cricket tour of Australia by a team from an Asian country. They came at the invitation of St. Peter's College of South Australia which had sent a schoolboy cricket team to Sri Lanka in 1928.
Some other cricketing connections between the two countries are as follows:
1. Davenall Whatmore, is the only cricketer of Sri Lankan origin to have played for Australia. He later became the coach of the Sri Lankan team that won the World Cup. The current coach of the Sri Lankan team is Bruce Yardley, the former Australian off-spinner.
2. Pat McCarthy, who migrated to Australia in 1948 from Sri Lanka represented Western Australia in Sheffield Shield cricket.
3. Gamini Goonasena, a former captain of the Ceylon Team, represented New South Wales in Sheffield cricket in the early '60s. He also played for Cambridge University and Nottinghamshire.
4. Malcolm Franke, a Sri Lankan migrant, played first class cricket for Queensland for nine seasons in the late sixties to the mid-seventies.
Today, cricket is played all over the island from under 12 years games to big "Festival" matches in schools and clubs. The strength of Sri Lankan cricket lies in the importance attached to it in the schools.
The big match between Royal College and S. Thomas' College (the two leading schools) is a social event and usually attracts a crowd bigger than an international cricket match. The Royal-Thomian cricket series is universally acknowledged as the second oldest unbroken annual contest in the history of cricket. Only the match between Price Alfred College and St. Peter's College in South Australia, which commenced in 1878, outlasts the Royal-Thomian (by two years).
With the recent success in the World Cup, the craze for cricket has swept through the country. School children can be seen playing cricket in paddy fields, in children's homes, shanty towns, street corners and even on public roads, sometimes with makeshift equipment eg., 'Pol Pithy' bats (made out of the stem of a branch of the coconut tree) and rubber balls, but nevertheless with great enthusiasm. A national cricket academy has been established to foster the game. In Sri Lanka, cricket is still played as a gentleman's game, maintaining the legacy of high traditions, spirit, decorum and dignity that the English have left behind. Sledging is unheard of in the playing fields of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan team is in Australia this summer. Sanath Jayasuriya who was the leading run scorer in Tests in 1997 (1271 Test runs at an average of 66.89) and the most effective batsman in the one-day game with a strike rate of 113.60 is the main draw card of this team.
Tania, keen to race against the best
From Bernie Wijesekera, in Australia
Sri Lanka born athlete,Tanie Van Heer, has decided to race against the best and beat 'em.
Van Heer the sprinter at the moment is in Australian athletics. She plans to clash against world champion and the 400M record holder, the Aborigine girl Cathy Freeman in the coming Victorian championship scheduled for Feb. 12-14 at the Olympic Park.
According to her manager Richard Carter, she will be nominated for the 100M. 200M and the 400M. There is no better test than to run against Freeman, for the first time at the Victorian meet. Tania, has a personal best of 52.44 secs in the 400M, when she raced against men at the Adelaide inter club meet, last November '98. Freeman's national record stands at 48.63 secs, the time she achieved to win a silver at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
The clash between Van Heer and Freeman will be on Feb 13 (Sat.) under lights at the Olympic Park.Tania may not win. But she is determined to make this race - one to remember. Van Heer 28, puts her past injury problems behind. At the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur won a bronze with a time of 11.29 secs in the 100M. She was a member of the gold winning relay teams in the 100M and 400M. She also won a "sprint double" on Australia Day in Adelaide both times defeating Lauren Hewitt. Freeman was to have run in Adelaide, but pulled out due to muscle injury. Commonwealth champion Nova Peris - Kneebone was also missing ( injured) and national record holder Melinda Gainsford - Taylor.
The Bodyline series
The most controversial series in cricket history reached its nadir in the third Test between Australia and England which started in Adelaide on January 13, 1933.
England's patrician leader Douglas Jardine, determined to counter Don Bradman's extraordinary scoring feats, ordered his fast bowlers headed by Harold Larwood to hurl short pitched deliveries at the batsmen's bodies.
Using the so-called bodyline tactics, Larwood struck Australian captain Bill Woodfull near the heart and an angry crowd were further incensed when wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield was struck on the forehead.
The Australian Cricket Board sparked a diplomatic crisis in a cable to the MCC, the sport's then ruling body, calling bodyline "unsportsmanlike", and hasty negotiations at the highest level were required to restore relations between the two countries. Bodyline was quickly outlawed and Larwood, the fastest bowler of his era, never again played at Test level. He emigrated to Australia in 1950 where he died on July 22, 1995.
Bradman personality profile
At the age of 90, Sir Donald Bradman is still the greatest name in cricket and the most famous living Australian, thanks to prodigious scoring feats never likely to be equalled.
As a boy in the New South Wales country town of Bowral, Bradman honed his skills by throwing a golf ball against a water tank and hitting the rebound with a cricket stump.
He moved to Sydney, made his Test debut in 1928 and over two decades interrupted by the second World War, broke most batting records with a ruthless efficiency which helped make him a successful captain and eventually an enlightened administrator.
For Australians struggling for survival during the great depression of the 1930s, Bradman's deeds against the colonial masters, England, were an inspiration.
The English felt differently and in a desperate attempt to curb his scoring introduced the notorious bodyline tactic of bowling directly at the batsman's body, a ploy which briefly threatened diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Bradman confirmed he was mortal by failing to score in his final Test innings against England at The Oval in 1948 while needing only four to average 100 in Test cricket. His final average was still 99.94; the next best in 60.97.
German soccer lacks young talent
German football is going through a crisis because it lacks young talent and puts fitness before skill, says Bayern Munich's French defender Bixente Lizarazu.
"In France, we have players like (Thierry) Henry, (David) Trezeguet or (Nicolas) Anelka who are in their early twenties and already at the top level," Lizarazu told the daily Bild in an interview released on Tuesday.
"In France, young players are better (than in Germany) and there technical skills are regarded as more important than physical condition." German clubs, Lizarazu said, should try to develop skills rather than insisting on physical training.
"In France's soccer schools, the emphasis is on the technical side," he said. "You can worry about fitness later."
A key member of France's World Cup-winning squad, Lizarazu, 29, joined Bayern in 1997 from Athletic Bilbao. He struggled with injuries in his first season but is having a brilliant run this season and is regarded as one of the best foreigners in the German first division.
German soccer is going through hard times as the shock defeat to Croatia in a World Cup quarter-final last year in France illustrated. There are no German teams in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup this season. "Germany are trying to switch from a generation of seasoned players to a new one and it is no secret that it's not an easy thing to do, " Lizarazu told Bild. He said Germany also had a problem in terms of in-depth strength. "There are a lot of foreigners in the Bundesliga, apparently because the German players are not good enough, " he said.
Bernie Wijesekera, reporting from Australia...
Ricky Ponting Australia's batting prodigy, who missed a debut Test 100 against Sri Lanka, out at 96 at the WACA in the 1995-'96 has been penalised for his early morning drinks at a Sydney pub. He not only tarnished his cricketing image as a future Aussie captain, but had to pay heavily whilst being suspended for three matches and fined nearly $10,000. Alcohol and cricket has been part of the cricketing culture.
Here is a lad, who is most humble and leads a simple life and came up the hard away to stardom from Tasmania where he first worked in a school's ground staff. But his regular drinking habits cost him dearly as a result. One of the most hardworking cricketers in the Aussie squad be it with his batting or fielding. According to the present coach Geoff Marsh, he was tipped to be the future captain. This has probably gone forever. Ponting and the ACB concede that his future is damaged. There is no way that a cricketer with a history of alcohol related with public life be given the mantle of leading the country. Ironically Aussie cricketers have a history of heavy drinkers.
Ian Chappel's champion Test team in the '70s had some hard drinkers, with the captain himself. Two of the close associates of the skipper were Rod Marsh and Doug Walters. Earlier there were greats like Keith Miller, Lindsay Hassett etc., who welcomed the media for a friendly chat to the bar. Incidentally, Miller had close connections with our own M. Sathasivam, 'Satha' was a hard boozer, but still could wield the willow with gusto.
Peter McFarline in the 'The Age' says, he has been travelling with the Ausssie team for 10 years, never to his knowledge an escapade occurred that needed to be brought to the managerial attention. The guzzling competition on the jet to England in 1977, got plenty of publicity, but nothing went out of hand. Present officials may say that was the era, before cricket became fully professional. Today the top cricketers are earning big money unlike in the past. As such the player behaviour off the field has to be above board. Ricky admits that he has a major problem either for himself, the captain and the ACB officials. He will be seeking remedial measures to overcome it. Ponting with a black eye and no memory of the incident had to pay dearly in the end.
The young player will learn much from the seniors in the team at a post match session over a beer as he will at the middle. And its their experience that they will try to hear and emulate.
Ponting now on 24, has saved the Australians on numerous occasions when they were caught in a mid-ocean crisis with his batting heroics. Coach, Rod Marsh and skipper Mark Taylor are quite aware about his talents. He has been punished by the ACB for his misconduct. Now he could be considered for West Indies tour and for the World Cup in May '99. He has been made a scapegoat for his own personal behaviour, which resulted with a black eye and became a sore-eye in the public.
But the acts by Warne and Mark Waugh when they pleaded guilty too, accepting money from an Indian bookmaker in Sri Lanka in 1994, were lucky to get off with a mild punishment. Which is more damaging? asks Peter McFarline in The Age on January, 22.
In the recent past apparently the conduct of some of our young 'uns at home and abroad were found wanting. But the BCCSL hierarchy put them under the carpet and took no remedial measures. Had they taken action it should have been a deterrent to the others and disciplined them.
To Err is Human, to Forgive is Divine. Ricky, has got punished right or wrong and has accepted it, be it on or off the field. The cardinal principle is to respect authority. This was the first lesson in the classroom, during our era, unlike today which is the bane for indiscipline, be it sport or otherwise. This attributes to untrained teachers and weak management.
Lady Rebecca wins Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham
By Ismail Khan
Grade one, and the most sought after racecourse on the National Hunt level, Cheltenham had one of its smaller meets down for decision Saturday last 30/1 and a good card of seven events were run through amidst a vast throng of eager racegoers. The competition was keen and the prices on offer too were very good.
The feature race of the day was the Marchpole Cleeve Hurdle run over 21 furlongs and 10 flights which attracted only seven animals. And it went to the first choice Miss. V. Williams's Lady Rebecca at 6/4 from 9/1 chance Silver Wedge. Incidentally Lady Rebecca was the first leg of a favourite double for inform rider Noel Williamson.
As the horses got off to a level start Castle Sweep leapt to the front and dictated terms till the penultimate flight where Silver Wedge and Lady Rebecca took over. Over the final jump Silver Wedge veered a little which was enough for Lady Rebecca to take the lead and increasing her lead hoof over hoof went on to register a good win from Silver Wedge who had to be satisfied with the runner-up spot. It was Williamson's brilliant jockeyship that got the day.
Cheltenham opened out the afternoon on a harsh note for punters as the raging hotpot Buckside bit the dust to the slap = like win of Picket Piece who won the $ 6500 Cheltenham Three Counties Novice's Handicap run over 17 furlongs on the bit with a good win tucked under his belly.
In this event the favourite who flashed very late and took a good hold of the race 250 metres from home was pegged back by the storming run of R. Johnson ridden Dave Nicholson trained 8-year-old Picket Piece. Finishing third was Roker Joker with Look Sharper in fourth spot.
The next event the Pittville Handicap Hurdle went to Martin Pipe's Rainwatch which was the first leg of a fair duo for M. Pipe - A. P. McCoy combination. This too was a 12/1 win with Polar Prospect finshing runner-up and Sound Appeal finishing third.
Horses to follow from the races above - Lady Rebecca the winner itself who could win many more races, including some even at the Cheltenham Festival in March and Sound Appeal who finished 3rd to Rainwatch who found himself blocked in during his flight home.
Race number three went to Flaxley Wood at 25/1 ridden by Brendon Powell and trained by R. Buckler from Samuel Wilderspin. The favourite Unsinkable Boxer sank like a torpedoed boat.
Race number four the Pillar Property Chase was grabbed up by Martin Pipe's Cyfor Malta completing a good double for McCoy and his Guvnor. Dave Nicholson's Go Ballisitic finished runner-up in this event. Horse to follow:- Go Ballistic.
Marchpole Cleeve Hurdle went to Lady Rebecca from Silver Wedge. Follow Lady Rebecca for more laurels as she careers along merrily with her fantastic form intact.
Noel Willliamson the inform rider notched a double as he booted Dr. Lent home in the Ladbroke Trophy Handicap Chase run over 21 furlongs and 17 fences. Storm Damage somehow managed to stay upright after many blunders finishing runner-up.
A French trained and French rider ridden horse Hors La Loi III brought the curtain down at Cheltenham as she smashed the course record for 17 furlongs with an effortless win taking the Four Year Old Hurdle worth £15,000 sponsored by Wragge And Company. Second in this race finished Behrajan and third Noble Demand.
That ended the Cheltenham's preparatory meet for the blocbuster to come in March.
That's all for today. See you next week with another edition of comments. Good hunting.
By Rex Wijewardene
Much water has flown under the bridges since the Muralitharan controversy surfaced on Australian soil in Sri Lanka's last tour of Australia in 1995/96. It was on this tour that Sri Lanka's wizard of spin Murali, was called for the first time. This chucking issue has once again raised its ugly head, in the same country, in the ongoing Carlton and United series. Here the devil himself, the ex-Cop Ross Emerson, created a sensation, when he called this bowler for the second time, when Sri Lanka was playing England in one of the tournament matches. These men D. Hair, R. Emerson and T. McQuillan were the suckers in a conspiracy, to edge out this brilliant turner of the ball from international cricket before the next World Cup. Emerson is a man who no-balled Murali in a Test match in Brisbane, when he had delivered a leg break, this proves how biassed he is. His knowledge of the game is just at ordinary club level, so these are the men who stand in judgment. I am sure ABC would have been quite aware.
That with Emerson in the middle, that this chucking issue, would surface once more, yet they were prepared to overlook it. I presume their sympathies may have been with these cheats. These men with some of the present Australian cricketers, have tarnished the image of Australian cricket. The land that produced the legendary Sir Don Bradman, the greatest batsman the world has ever seen, and a host of others too many to mention. They were not only brilliant in a cricketing sense, but whats more they were gentlemen. They were not men who would contaminate their fingers with base bribes, like their countrymen Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, who were bought over by an Indian bookmaker for a fee. This was not only a disgrace to their country, but cricket at large. The ABC preferred to sweep this under the carpet, and the Australian media gave a helping hand to cover up the dirty work by turning their guns on the innocent spinner of the ball Murali. To add insult to injuries these two men who brought discredit to their country, were honoured by been appointed Captain and Vice Captain in the present tournament. The latest we hear is that their star batsman R. Ponting has being suspended for being involved, in a drunken brawl, in a night club in Sydney. The spectator behaviour was appalling, and shocking, their main target was Murali, who had to face the music for no fault of his, most of these louts were under the influence of alcohol.
If history is an indication, then I presume these men are direct descendants of the ex-convicts that Britain dumped on Australian soil, to keep their country free of criminals, if so their behaviour is understandable. To them the old adage that cricket is a gentlemen's game is a myth.
By Gamini Perera
Does it benefit a woman to go in for weightlifting?
This issue was hotly debated in the Russian sports circles in the late 1980s. This question came up in view of the International Weightlifting Federation's decision to stage the inaugural world championships for women in and around 1987.
At that time, Women's weightlifting was widely developed and popular in some countries. Women's weightlifting groups had begun to emerge in the USSR as well as the United States.
Many Russian experts voiced their opinion on this issue. While some were for it, others opposed this move.
"It would be wrong to forbid people to take up a sport which interests them. It would be absurd, dishonest and moreover useless. It is another thing what form is the most suitable for women's weightlifting and what direction society should choose for the development of this sport," so said Yuri Vlasov, the then chairman of the USSR Weightlifting Federation.
He said that there are not only positive, but also negative elements even in men's weightlifting.
"Lifters, especially heavyweights, sacrifice their bodily constitution in pursuit of strength. But they are men," he said.
He posed the question - should women follow the men's example?
"I would not like to witness this. Besides, the excessive strain characteristic of weightlifting can adversely affect the health of women. At least medicine cannot negate this until special studies are carried out," was Vlasov's opinion.
He said that he was absolutely certain that weightlifting, in small doses will benefit all and will make women more beautiful, slender and at the same time stronger and healthier.
He further stated that he was acquainted with several women who engage in weightlifting within reasonable limits. "They are normal, well-trained and beautiful women."
As to the role to be played by the USSR Weightlifting Federation, Vlasov cautioned that, "the prime task of the Federation was to ensure that women lifters do not get drawn into the orbit of tough, sports competition at least at the initial stage, until physicians arrive at final conclusions on this score. And, best of all, they should not be drawn into it at all."
He said that he did not want to rule out that some women devotees of weightlifting will want to perform at a high level. "It would be wrong to prohibit this. But if this happens, we must do all possible to prevent weightlifting from damaging their health. For instance, work-out sparing sports norms and reasonable weight catagories," Vlasov had voiced.
Some were of the view as to why a non-aesthetic sport like weightlifting (as applied to women, of course) be developed when there are so many beautiful and safe sports for women.
Damage to organism
"Although I am not a physician, I do not doubt that weightlifting will do damage to a woman's organism which is more fragile than man's. This will affect first of all the backbone. I myself trained with weights to achieve success in my favourite sport. But first my training was not so intensive and strictly dosed and I did not set myself the aim of becoming the strongest. Secondly, I cannot say that I felt well after these work-outs. I don't think it is worth propagating weightlifting among women," that was the opinion of Irina Rodina, a former Olympic winner in figure skating.
According to Dr. Zoya Mironva, a Doctor of Science (Medicine): "Women's Weightlifting certainly involves, initially, small injuries and then leads to major changes in the spine, due to multiple repetitions of certain ailments. I can imagine what will happen to a women's organism due to lifting weights for a long period of time - the sinking of the intervertebral discs which influence the mobility of the backbone and upsetting of the ligament apparatus, caused by the heavy loads.
Observations made at various institutes, revealed that the use of weightlifting to develop general physical fitness resulted in pain in the spine. Certain physicians are convinced that women who train in weightlifting run the risk of never becoming mothers.
"I would not put obstacles in the way of those who want to take up weightlifiting. If some women enjoy weightlifting, let them engage in it, of course within reasonable limits. But, I myself do not figure among supporters of this issue. Frankly speaking, I cannot imagine without a smile a woman athlete preparing to lift a many - kilogramme weight. Wherein lies the beauty of a woman? Of course, it does not lie in wide shoulders and well-developed muscles. Such features as softness and fitness, both outer and inner elegance and kindness are appreciated in women most of all," that was the opinion of Elina Bystritskaya, chairman of the then USSR Modern Rhythmic Gymanstics Federation.
"As distinct from track and field especially track and gymnastics, weightlifting can hardly develop a woman's features and the above named qualities. And, it is even simpler to take a gymnastic stick and to make not so many and not so difficult exercises. If you do this everyday, it develops a good bearing, makes the muscles elastic and removes that extra weight.
Fits them or not
Many years have passed since this issue came up. Since women themselves have been keen to invent women's weightlifiting, they themselves should decide on whether it fits them or not, and at what level they should engage in this sport.
Yuri Sandalov, a member of the International Weightlifting Federation had stated that the USSR Weightlifting Federation till the late 1980s had not evolved any definite attitude to this issue, because in no country, until then, had relative comprehensive and detailed medical studies been carried out.
Bernie Wijesekera, reporting from Sydney.
The Northern Territories rugby team from Darwin, is to tour Sri Lanka in September '99 for their annual contest. This was revealed to The Sunday Times by our Sri Lanka rugby rep., in Australia on Feb. 3 (Wednesday) Dilip Kumar.
This annual contest is a brainchild of Kumar, with a view to give that much needed exposure to the local players at a higher competitive level. The visiting team will play two matches on this sojourn, probably one in Colombo and in Kandy. Last year the Lankan team toured Australia (Sydney).
During the Olympic Year - 2,000 the Lankans will be here in October besides playing the two-match series in Darwin, but also will scrum down in Sydney according to Kumar. The N.T.R.F.U. hierarchy wants the Lankan team to spend more time in Darwin as they are delighted to return the Lankan hospitality, which they enjoyed while in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka and CR and FC tough propforward, Shanta Rohana will be here in late February '99. He will turn out for Pirate Harbour Rugby Club, which team is being sponsored by Kumar Group of Companies.
In-form Padauk pays a shock dividend
By Ismail Khan
The All Weather Flat at Lingfield went through its scheduled programme Saturday last 30/1 with added zest as there was only one flat card to contend with.
Lingfield flat opened out on a sporty note 7/2 chance Bratby overcoming 11/2 Compton Akka and 100/30 Perchancer. Horse to follow Perchancer 3rd in this event who with a good second behind her just could not go through with it. Follow her next outing.
In the next event Tim Barrons Krystal Max 2/7 ably piloted by Kimberley Hart the claimer got the day. The next event too went the way of first choice 8/15 odds-on Love Blues driving the shivery cold blues away from the punters. In this event Roi De Danse finished runner-up. Horses to follow - Krystal Max to continue winning and Love Blues too to continue to drive your blues away.
Race number four went to Thomas Henry who took the 7 furlong Maiden Stakes easily from Nanny's Affair. Horse to follow from this event - Nannys Affair who ran a blinder till 6 furlongs and then packed it up coming in second to Thomas Henry.
The Winter Warmer Offers Handicap over seven furlongs went to G. Braverys Hugwity at 7/2 from Shades of Love. Hugwity ran very well under a big weight to win this event though a claimer got three pound allowance.
The last event on the card the Collingwood Handicap over a gruelling two miles was won by M. Haynes trained Padauk at 12/1 from Spick and Span and Bend the Scenes. Padauk was ridden by Frank Norton who seems to be having a lean time.
With the flat proper only a month and a half away from us it would be advantageous to keep a tab on the runners in order to have a jet take-off once the flat gets off the block in mid-March.
Therefore follow these columns carefully from now on and have in your shortlist the horses mentioned to be followed. It could help you along.
So that much for today. More next week.
By Ramesh Joseph
From Atherton to Atapattu and Sohail to Sidhu, is an impressive array of reliable, attractive and talented opening batsmen in International cricket today. Many of them are gifted left handers and add grace to the glorious art of batsmanship.
They are Mark Taylor, Gary Kirsten, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mark Butcher, Saurav Ganguly, Nick Knight and Adam Gilchrist, who figure in onedayers. For quite some time now, the Pakistan innings is being opened by a pair of formidable left-handers, Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar.
Fortunately, two of the most exciting batsmen of the modern day cricket, Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya, are openers in the one-day version. Alec Stewart of England is perhaps the most heavily burdened opening batsman, shouldering a three-fold responsibility as an opener, captain and wicket-keeper.
The job of an opener is all the more difficult in as much as while taking the guard, he is in the dark as to how the wicket will behave and is unaware of the tricks the opening bowlers have up their sleeves.
He has to be watchful in the initial stages and must first get his eye in. He cannot take liberties with bouncing balls and the swinging ones. Indiscreet flash invariably results in cheap dismissals.
The openers have to lay a sound foundation and take the wind out of the sails of the bowlers. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar was the ideal opener who used to study the vagaries of the wicket and variations of the bowlers and then build up his own innings and of the team.
Against this background it is interesting to watch the flurry of fours and sixes, the famed master blasters of today viz. Sanath Jayasuriya, Sachin Tendulkar and Saeed Anwar indulge in from the first ball itself.
They carry the battle to the opponents' camp. People wonder how it is possible to play a stroke-filled innings before settling down. The answer is simple.
These are natural cricketers endowed with the ability to see the ball early and know which way it would seam.
They are blessed with quick eye, quick footwork, quick reflexes, supple wrists and superb timing.
Mark Taylor started his career with a bang and continued to be on song for a long time. Along with Navjot Sidhu, Taylor is one of the most senior openers, and is nearing the coveted 100 Test mark and has the highest number of runs amongst today's opening batsmen. He is a gusty player and his ability as a resourceful captain, and dependable catcher in the slips, is unquestioned. It is no wonder that he took Australia to the top in Test cricket.
After the unexpected and untimely exit of Greenidge and Haynes, West Indies have yet to find a sound pair of openers. Similarly after Gavaskar left the scene, India is still without a consistent run-getter for the opening slot. Although Sidhu has held the fort, a search is on to find him an able partner. Sidhu himself has been in and out of the team often.
Marvan Atapattu, who is now regarded as one of the best openers Sri Lanka has produced, had one of the worst starts in representative matches.
For two long years he had proved a flop with too many 'blobs' and was ultimately axed.
However the selectors had recognised his true worth and brought him back. Tenacious as he is, Atapattu too assiduously struck to his task and grabbed the 'last' opportunity with both hands and showed his mettle. This is how a player is groomed in other countries. Atapattu too has justified in ample measure the confidence reposed on him.
Pakistan selectors have tried many an opener with an eye on future, namely Salim Elahi, Shahid Afridi, but the old firm of Saeed Anwar and Aamir Sohail has been the most successful pair in Pakistan after Mudassar Nazar and Moshin Khan.
Unfortunately, New Zealand and Zimbabwe do not boast of a formidable opening pair. Gary Kirsten of South Africa is another gritty player of fast bowling and though the other openers like Andrew Hudson, Liebenberg and Adam Bacher failed to impress, Kirsten still holds the stage and scintillates.
While the standard of today's openers is high, suprisingly enough, only two countries have a settled pair which has stood the test of time, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
But the world is very much fortunate to watch them. Many of them are darlings of the crowd, Jayasuriya, Tendulkar, Anwar and Mark Waugh have shown that they are well versed in adapting their style and technique to the requirements of opening the Test and one-day innings most admirably.
By Callistus Davy
With enough ammunition to fire at incumbent administrators following Sri Lanka's dismal and controversy-ridden tour of Australia, ex-Cricket Board President Upali Dharmadasa has serious plans on working towards a return to the fray.
A business director by profession, Dharmadasa has the blessing of Ana Punchihewa, also a one-time Board president, besides claiming to receive numerous requests from clubs to present himself as a candidate for what could be a most crucial election of office bearers scheduled for next month.
But Dharmadasa insists it is not the current crisis situation which is gripping Sri Lanka cricket that is making him consider a comeback. "If you want to do an honest job, conditions can be favourable at any time", Dharmadasa told the Sunday Times in an interview.
"I am not a superhuman or a god. It is an administrative job where you do your part and leave cricket in the hands of the selectors and let the cricketers play", he said.
The former cricket chief charged that administrators are making far too many visits into players' dressing rooms during matches which he believes amounts to interference that does not leave the players at liberty.
Developments in the Sri Lankan team may not have changed dramatically over the past 18 months, but the lifestyles of administrators have taken a revolutionary turn with most of them now enjoying the comforts of airconditioned rooms with tinted glasses.
Many have also been accused of playing politics and being responsible for bringing the nation's cricket into disrepute. But Dharmadasa resolutely denies that politics was allowed to dictate cricket administration during his term.
"People say that politics has got into sport. It may be so. But it's up to the individual administrator who runs the place to keep it (politics) separate and do a job of work. When I managed affairs I always made it a point to take it as two units. Politics as one and the game as another, and the game was on top", said Dharmadasa.
Dharmadasa himself was responsible for ousting Punchihewa from the presidency just two weeks after Sri Lanka won the World Cup in March 1996 in what became known as a punch below the belt. Dharmadasa insists it was a fair election and hence backs his claim by the support he receives from Pucnhihewa.
"Myself and Ana (Punchihewa) are close friends from day one. Even when we contested each other we were friends and are still friends today. I have the highest regards for him and our common goal is Sri Lanka cricket".
Punchihewa and Dharmadasa have never played professional cricket, but a combination of the two ex-Board heavyweights has plenty of clout to arouse public interest on who will be at the helm when the Sri Lankan team marches out to compete at the next World Cup in May.
If Dharmadasa has one virtue competing administrators cannot boast of, the ex-Board chief can take credit as one of the pioneer employers who offered jobs to many of Sri Lanka's leading cricketers from the mid 1980's to the early 1990's, a period in which several members of the current team had no price tag.
For the moment, Dharmadasa holds current Board officials responsible for the present depths into which Sri Lanka cricket has plummeted since he bowed out a year ago.
The humiliation in Australia relating to the no-balling of Muralitheran for chucking followed by conduct unbecoming on the part of skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, has provided Dharmadasa with plenty of unexpected fire-power.
"People might now think that I have found a chance to criticise the Board. But it is the full responsibility of the Board which is the main arm of cricket in Sri Lanka and it is upto them to look after the cricketers and the cricketing fraternity of Sri Lanka," Dharmadasa declared.
Dharmadasa is of the opinion that a player of the calibre of Arjuna Ranatunga would have tackled the chucking issue avoiding any serious breach of discipline had the Board given him the "right advice".
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