So tough for the captains
Nasser Hussein gracefully bowed out of the English captaincy last week after England's opening test match against South Africa. The chopping and changing began after the World Cup, in March. Many resigned and some were politely dismissed by the National Selectors. Hussein threw it in as one-day captain of his country at that stage and now he feels the desire, the motivation and the ambition to lead his country have diminished and the reins have been handed over to Michael Vaughan.

Cricket is the team sport that requires the captain to play a major role on the field, in fashioning the moves on the field. He not only has to play the role of the player but also decides on so many vital moves. The decision he takes could mean the difference between winning and losing.

The international cricket captain is a national figure today. Every country that plays the sport at that level, views the team's performances with a lot of passion. During the dark days when terrorism reigned in this country for nearly two decades, when economic pressures weighed down the nation, it was the deeds of the national team that sparked joy and national unity. This feeling has been shared by many nations for nearly a century now. So the burden on the man at the helm is heavy.

Today there is additional pressure with the media breathing down the skipper's neck. The public relations chores, personal form, family commitments, salaries and benefits, communication with the authorities and many other responsibilities are on a captain's list of duties. It requires a man of steel to come out on the top.

Steve Waugh has over and over again proved that he is a man of steel. His two centuries against Bangladesh indicates that he is on the opposite mental zone to Nasser Hussein. He does not see his mission as Australian captain as accomplished. He has indicated that to defeat India in India would be the icing on the cake. So he goes on. Ricky Ponting meanwhile, has done an excellent job as head of one-day affairs. Beyond doubt Ponting has an astute cricket brain. Now he waits in the wings to take over whenever Waugh calls it a day. Simultaneously his batting form and the manner in which he accumulates runs continues to improve. Indeed, a very healthy position.

Rashid Latif, Graeme Smith, Marvan Atapattu, Hashan Tillekeratne and Brian Lara (Given another crack at the whip) are the new men on the job. Latif and Smith are slowly but steadily setting in to the new responsibility. Lara has accepted the challenge with glee and seems committed to resurrect West Indian cricket. Atapattu and Tillekeratne have not kicked off with a bang. Both have commenced on a defensive footing treading their way cautiously. It will be a big test when England challenge them in November.

It must be time to start grooming captains. Not when they get into the national team and get established as players. Just as batsmen and bowlers come through the ranks from under 15 stage, so too must the leaders.

The task becomes difficult because first you have to be good enough to play. This means a number of those who display potential as players must be groomed. They should be given the opportunity whenever possible. There is a learning process for a cricket captain. All those with potential must be taught the language of cricket leadership.

A cricket team must have a captain who is looked up to as the leader who delivers on the field and leads by example.

Royal clinch the Milo championship in style
By Shamseer Jaleel
Royal College Colombo lived up to the expectations of their fans when they won the Milo A division competition

The way Royal has performed this season is that they reserve their energy for the later stages of the second half. This was witnessed in the Peter's, Anthony's, Trinity and Thomian matches. Special mention must be made about their forwards with only one senior in their ranks have displayed excellent rugby setting up number of scoring opportunities. Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) has indicated that they are unable to shift dates and since its clashing with the Bradby Shield, Royal will not take part in this year's knock out tournament.

SLSRFA should note that the Bradby is not only one of the biggest events in Asia but also this is a much looked forward event by most of the rugby crazy fans in our country and old boys of both schools all over the world. Royal made a request to the SLSRFA for a postponement for their match to August 4 but it was turned down.

The SLSRFA did another blunder by fixing the semi-finals of this knock outs on August 9 which will clash with the much looked forward A division match between League champions Kandy SC and the CH & FC. To add more problems to the fans to decide which match to go as this seasons so many inportant matches clashed with either good club matches or school matches.

Rajith Jayasundera led Royal from the front with his vast experience which he gained in the international rugby field by touring with the senior national team to South Korea for the Asian Games and the Asiad in Thailand.

He also played a major role for the national team at the IRB/ARFU matches against Arabian Gulf and the Asian Champions Japan. Undoubtedly the star of the side was Laxman Dissanayake with his strong build, He powered his way through most of the schools teams defencees. These two players have already been ear-marked by leading clubs. But Laxman Dissanayake will most probably lead the Royal side in the 2004 season. He also posses international exposure by touring with the senior team to Korea for the Asian Games. It is also interesting to note that Laxman is the son of the late Dr. Lakdasa Dissanayake the drop kick specialist, whose kicking alone humbled Mohan Sahayam's Trinity side in 1964.

With the seniors Varun Wijewardena, Awaiz Rasheed, Shihab Bahudeen, Prabath Udugampola and the rest delivering the goods they have had a successful season winning the 'A' division title. Royal pulled out of the President's Trophy knock-out Tournament.

Royal started the season with a bang when they outclassed Rajans 45-0 in Kandy.

They edged out St .Peter's 8-6 after the Bambalapitiya side led for most part of the match. Their flanker Palinda Wickramasinghe dashed all hopes of the Peterites by planting a try in the dying stages of the game. Royal lost their only game in the season to Wesley which was their first defeat at their New Sports Complex.

The lads from Borella who have been encountering Royal since 1958 tasted victory after 45 years when they trounced them 22-18. This game was played at hectic pace with both teams dishing out excellent rugby. Though Royal made a last minute try it was too late to prevent the Wesley side from making their first victory over the Reid Avenue school. They met the Antonians in their third outing which was a nail biting affair which Royal won 10-7.

This game was played under wet conditions where the respective forwards dished out an exhibition of good forwards rugby. Strongly built Laxman Dissanayake crashed through the Antonian defence in the dying stages of the game to give Royalists the victory.

Their pack leader Avaiz Rasheed who missed the first three games came back with a sterling performance in the game against Pathana. This game played for Major Milroy Fernando Memorial Trophy was won by the Reid Avenue school who toppled the Havelock Town boys 19-8. They met Trinity College Kandy in their 59th Bradby Shield first leg in Kandy.

Though the Reid Avenue side went as 'hot favourates' they were made to fight for their points and in the end they edged out the Lions 13-11.

With this win they cleared their first hurdle in their attempt to retain the Bradby Shield for the third consecutive year. This may not be the best effort by Royal in the current season but they got their act together well in the second-half.

Though they were trailing by 0-11, they came back strongly to tame the Lions with the help of a terrific second half rally which has always been the strong point of the Royal team. Rajith Jayasundera planted one try with Bahudeen converting and put over two vital penalties as well which saw the Reid Avenue school through in the first leg of the Bradby.

After so many disputes regarding the dates of their match against S.Thomas for the Michael Gunaratne Trophy which was played at last in between the first and second legs of the Bradby Shield encounters. They outclassed the lads from Mount Lavinia 17-6.

Royal who won the Milo 'A' league is coached by former Sri Lanka scrum-half C P.P Abeygoonawardena who represented the Sri Lanka team at the Hong Kong 7s in 1984 when Sri Lanka won the Bowl Trophy.

He also coached the star studed Kandy SC with much success in becoming the triple champs among clubs. Best known as C P.P , he played for Royal as a scrum- half. He was assisted by the former Police player and the IRB rated referee Nizam Jamaldeen.

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