Officials in comedy of errors at sporting spectacle
By M.Shamil Amit
The 14th Asian Athletics Championships got underway with the opening ceremony being done in a carnival atmosphere at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Thursday. The championships which is participated by 39 countries was declared open by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe watched by a crowd of over 25,000. The march past was led by Indonesia who hosted the last Asian championships with Sri Lanka as host of the championship following last.

The Minsiter of Sports and Youth Affairs who was the chairman of the organising committee did a wonderful job in bringing the track back to running conditions when at a time it was in doubt whether the champioship would ever be able to take place as a lot of preparations had to be done. But the minister who took the task to his hands ended victorious. The opening was made more colourful with various events having been prepared for this occasion.

The parachute display was one of the attractions that kept the crowds in a mood of suspense with seven brave members of the Sri Lanka Air Force jumping from the helicopter from a height of over 7000 feet.Unfortunately one of them went astray and landed on a tree but he was lucky not to get injured seriously.

The 10 million worth fireworks display presented by the Chinese goverment was another added attraction not forgeting the drill display. by little school children. Four special stamps were issued to mark the occasion. The olympic flame was brought into the stadium by Nagalingam Ethiriwee-rasingham, the first Sri Lankan to win a gold medal at the Asian Games and Susnthika Jayasinghe the only athlete to win a medal at the Olympics after Duncan White.

The athletes for the championships comprises 557 with 369 in the mens category and 188 in the womens category which is the highest number of female athletes ever to take part in the history of the championships.Sri Lanka's gold medal hopes will depend on Susanthika Jayasinghe the captain of the Sri Lanka contingent and Sugath Tilekeratne. The Sri Lanka contingent comprises 100 athletes with 55 men and 45 women.

China can be expected to lead the medal list as they have a strong contingent. The Sunday Times speaking to some of the managers of the visiting teams to get the views of their medal prospects at the championships was shocked to hear when some of them said. "We are not taking this championships seriuosly but our main aim is the Busan Asian Games in Korea" Most of the countries have come with their second stringers.

When the events got underway on Friday all effort put in by Sports Minister Johnston Fernando to make this mega event a success seemed to be going down the drain with officials who had been given in charge of responsibilities not to be seen. Two weeks ago The Sunday Times in an arcticle wrote how the officials failed to supply the media with official results of an event held in the morning even by 5.00 in the evening.. The same was repeated in this champioships too.

There were computers which the media were told would be updated at the earliest. Alas nothing materialised which put the media in a tight situation. There were a few foreign journalist who would naturally be anxious to send the results at the earliest. Instead they got disgusted and were furious.

At the track the officials frustrated the participants as the public address system failed with only some participants hearing the starters orders. One heat of the mens 400 metres had to be given the school sports meet start. The electronic timing device never functioned at all if it was, the spectators would have to use another device to read that. Some events on the first day had to be cancelled as there were not sufficient athletes to conduct the events.

With all the bungling the honour of winning the first gold medal went to Gu Ying of China in the Hammer Throw event for women. She did it in style establishing a new Asian championships record of 71.10 metres eclipsing the previous record of 61.86 in the process. There were two other finals worked out during the day with another going to the Chinese women in the Discus Throw with Li Yanfeng taking it with a distance of 60.06 metres. Two Qataris dominated the other final which was the 10,000 metres. Hashim Ahmed Ibrahim coming first and Awad Amon Majid following him.

At the end of the first day China had won two golds followed by Qatar one gold and one silver. India had one silver and three bronze and Chinese Taipei had one silver.

Testing time for Lankan cricketers
By Bernie Wijesekera
Cricket history will be created when a tri-nation tournament between Sri Lanka, S. Africa and Pakistan will be staged for the Morocco Cup 2002, organised by the Federation Royale Marocaine De Cricket from Aug. 12 to 21, at the Tangier Cricket Stadium.

This is a limited over series organised by the FRMC in collaboration with the Sharjah based Cricketers' Benefit Fund series. It's the first time international cricket will be played in N. Africa- Morocco is affiliated to the ICC. The ICC has officially given its approval for the venue and supports development of cricket worldwide.

A prestigious trophy is on offer plus prize money - US $ 250,000. Sri Lanka led by Sanath Jayasuriya, will have a daunting task to be in contention against Pakistan and S. Africa that, too against volatile pacemen, who will be firing on all cylinders.

Both teams are strong contenders for next year's World Cup against defending champions Australia. Pakistan led by Waqar Younis has several bowling allrounders headed by Wasim Akram, Abdur Razzaq, Ashar Mahmud and Sahid Afridi.

Besides they have batting depth especially when it comes to an overs game. It's a well-knit side with aggressive batting in the top order to make merry against any attack.

The S. Aricans are close on their heels, led by Shaun Pollock. S. A. too are not short of bowling allrounders to match Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, two bowling allrounders, who could be among the best in the world, The S.A. team, too has a strong batting down the line. They have much strength in the middle-order Pollock, Boucher, Niki Boje, and one day specialist Jonty Rhodes - a brilliant fielder, too. Both Pakistan and S. A. possess an awesome pace attack. Besides they have variety to adjust according to the behaviour of the pitch.

Playing on a newly laid pitch, the batsmen has to adjust their technique accordingly.

Sri Lanka top order looks sound and adequate, with Marvan Atapattu, sedate Mahela Jayawardena, gritty Russel Arnold, with the aggressive batting coming from left-handers skipper Jayasuriya one time tagged as 'master blaster' has to give of his best in this series to be in the running. Quick-footed Kumar Sangakkara has the appetite for runs. It's being propped by experienced Aravinda de Silva to bring about stability at the middle. But nothing could be said about the lower order barring Upul Chandana and Chaminda Vaas. The top order has to overcome this setback. They must bat with authority against a hostile bowling which has much variation. It's nice to see T. Dilshan back in the side. He must make use of this opportunity and play a long innings, to stamp his place in the team. He is an adequate stand-in keeper, too. Utility allrounder Upul Chandana has the ability to bowl his leggies. He's an asset to the side with his brilliant fielding.

It's a good test for our young pacemen Dilhara Fernando, C.B. Fernando and P. Gunaratne and C. Gamage. They have to support Vaas and should bowl to a line and length than going for sheer speed to contain the opposing batsmen. Much of Sri Lanka's success will depend on their bowlers. Spin wizard Murali will focus attention. Both Pakistan and S.A. batsmen have the ability to contain his wiles, especially in limited over games.

In a shorter version of game the underdogs could come on top. Sri Lanka could turn tables with an unstinted team effort. Jayasuriya is confident and will lead from the front. Newcomer Hasantha Fernando, a lad from Chilaw Marians showed promise as an all-rounder against Bangladesh.

The team
Sanath Jayasuriya (Captain), Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Aravinda De Silva, Russel Arnold, Hasantha Fernando, Chaminda Vaas, Chamila Gamage, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Charitha Buddhika Fernando, Upul Chandana, T.M. Dilshan and Pulasthi Gunaratne. Manager - Air Commodore Ajith Jayasekera Coach - Dav Whatmore Physiotherapist - Alex Kontouri

Monday 12th August - Pakistan v. South Africa
Tuesday 13th August - Rest Day
Wednesday 14th August - Pakistan v. Sri Lanka
Thursday 15th August - South Africa v. Sri Lanka
Friday 16th August - Rest Day
Saturday 17th August - Pakistan v. Sri Lanka
Sunday 18th August - Pakistan v. South Africa
Monday 19th August - South Africa v. Sri Lanka

Moratuwa win inter-varsity regatta 34-8
The Moratuwa University emerged the inter-university regatta champions. They overcame two stronger teams in Colombo University led by Suranga Prasanna and coached by Lloyd Sirimanne and Royal College Colombo which had several colours-men in their side.

The champions came into this side with a weak team having only two coloursmen and lost very badly in the previous two years but with the guidance of coach Ajith Gunawardena the team was upgraded into a champion outfit. When the events began the Moratuwa team won four consecutive races which gave them a comfortable lead over the other teams.

Though Colombo University managed to win one race, it was too late for them to get close to the champions. But the Moratuwa University came back to win the boat race. Three ladies events and the graduate fours were taken by the Colombo team. The ladies scull was won by Charuka Silva who is the captain of the champion team.

Nurturing pace, spin bowlers
By Ranil Abeyaike
Bowlers in the game of cricket could be compared to thorough bred race horses. They need special care and handling to bring out the best in them. A whole group of actors and human assistance is required for a horse to win a race. Such is the case with bowlers too.

At a match a batsman has a duel with the bowler. Unless run out due totally to the fault of his partner, the batsman's skill and ability alone helps him to succeed.

Not so with a bowler, he requires the fielders to assist him. The Captain has to administer bowling changes at the appropriate time and give the current number of overs in a spell. Field placings also play a major role. The bowler may or may not have a say in the decision. In short bowlers have to be handled well to bring out the best results.

Often coaches, mentors, captains discover and assist bowlers to reach the top. The beginning is vital. The initial learning period is between the ages of ten and fourteen. For the quicker bowlers the lesson must be to move the ball in the air and off the pitch. Spin bowlers must develop the art of spinning the ball. It is therefore absolutely necessary to use junior balls which can be controlled by a youngster.

Often the emphasis is on bowling line and length. At a young age, however hard a player may try to come anywhere near perfecting these skills, it is almost impossible to achieve. After years of hard work bowling line and length becomes second nature. Pace, swing and spin is the early requirement.

As the education progresses dismissing batsman should be the main aim of any bowler. Often the type of cricket that a youngster plays and the surfaces games are played influences the moulding of a player. Bowlers must always be encouraged to attack and not be afraid to try variations.

First eleven school cricket is what provides the platform to launch into big time. An all rounding moulding at this state of a career is essential. The skills mentioned earlier of pace, swing, spin, bowling line and length have to be gradually mastered.

At this stage some youngsters get carried away in wanting to hold a place. That is well and good, but bowler must not be satisfied by picking up a couple of wickets and then bowling negatively to defensive fields. An education on how to tackle the game at the highest level is the next step. To play against strong opposition becomes necessary. This is not entirely in the hands of the player. A collective effort by coaches, administrators, selectors, ground authorities is necessary to harness the talented to reach the top.

Life at the highest level for a bowler is very hard work. More so for the quicker bowlers. Regimented training, gym work, a balanced diet and adequate rest at required times, all add to the routine.

As a career progresses it now becomes necessary to take time off from embarking on certain tours or having a break simply to recuperate. Back to the beginning - bowlers need to be taken special care of. They need to dismiss the opposition for a team to win. No account of scoring runs will help, should a team not be able to get wickets. It requires a special arm to care for these "thorough bred" human beings!

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