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A boost in long-distance events expected with reforms to schools’ athletics programme  

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The 1,500 metres was the longest track discipline for the Under 18 age category at Education Ministry conducted events.  

by Reemus Fernando  

Inclusion of the 3,000 metres to the Under 18 age category is among a series of changes the Ministry of Education is about to introduce to its athletics programme after the proposals made by respected long-distance coach Susantha Fernando received the backing of leading sports officials of the Ministry at a forum to introduce long overdue reforms on Tuesday.

The 3,000 metres is the longest track event available for the Under 18 age category at events sanctioned by World Athletics, the world governing body for track and field sports. Despite the discipline being available at the Asian Youth (U18) Athletics Championships from its inception, local Junior National Athletics Championships and the Sir John Tarbat Senior Athletics Championships for the athletes of the said age category, the Ministry of Education was yet to include the long-distance event to the athletics programme.

“Susantha Fernando made a number of proposals. The inclusion of the 3,000 metres was just one of them. There were no objections to his proposals. They will be included in the athletics programme,” a senior official of the Ministry of Education said in an interview with The Island yesterday.

There had been previous occasions when such proposals were made but they had not been considered seriously by the top officials of the Ministry.

At the Education Ministry conducted athletics events, the 1,500 metres was the longest track discipline for the Under 18 age category until last year. A boost in the long-distance events is expected with the introduction of the 3,000 metres to the programme of the said age category this year.

Doing away with the points system for the lower age category disciplines, introducing the 600 metres to the Under 14 age category and reintroducing the long-distance medley relay to the Under 18 and Under 20 age categories of the Education Ministry conducted Relay Carnival are among the other notable changes that are likely to come to effect this year.

There was strong criticism when some of the long-distance events were scrapped from the Relay Carnival several years ago. Sunil Jayaweera, the then head of sports of the Ministry of Education took swift action to reintroduce the long-distance medley relay to the Under 18 age category in 2019. However, despite the success of the event it was scrapped from the programme the very next year.

The Sports Calendar of the Ministry of Education too had been finalized at the forum held on Tuesday. According to the Calendar, the Zonal Competitions are likely to be concluded before mid-June. The Provincial level competitions will be concluded by early September, while the All Island Schools Games will be held after the A/L Exam.



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Spinners, Sciver-Brunt guide Mumbai Indians women to WPL title

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Mumbai Indians were crowned the inaugural champions of the Women’s Premier League after a tense, low-scoring final at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. In a nervy title clash between the two best teams of the competition, it was the experience of Nat Sciver-Brunt that helped Mumbai get across the line, the star all-rounder following up her Eliminator blitz with a more measured knock of 60* off 55 balls. Sciver-Brunt’s half-century and her crucial partnership of 72 with Harmanpreet Kaur (37) came after an excellent bowling performance, particularly from Hayley Matthews and Melie Kerr, that restricted the Delhi Capitals to a modest total of 131.

Brief scores:

Delhi Capitals women 131/9 in 20 overs (Meg Lanning 35, Radha Yadav 27*; Hayley Matthews 3-5, Issy Wong 3-42, Melie Kerr 2-18) lost to Mumbai Indians women 134/3 in 19.3 overs (Nat Sciver-Brunt 60*, Harmanpreet Kaur 37; Radha Yadav 1-24) by seven wickets.

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Where have all the mystery bowlers gone? 

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by Rex Clementine 

It’s been a while since a mystery Sri Lankan spinner bamboozled the opposition batsmen. Not just batsmen but coaches went on a frenzy decoding these bowlers while Times of India and Daily Telegraph dedicated headlines praising how well Sri Lanka groomed these sensational talents.

Ajantha Mendis was the last global sensation with bit of mystery as his carrom ball humbled India’s fabulous batting line-up comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly. After him T. M. Dilshan opening the batting with field restrictions on came up with a scoop shot over the head of the wicketkeeper that later became popular as Dilscoop.

Not exactly mystery but Sri Lanka promoting unorthodox style of play totally contrary to the coaching manual had been appreciated and encouraged. Not just Dilshan and Mendis but Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya all broke convention and were extremely successful.

Credit to selectors and captains for encouraging these natural talents and more importantly for the coaches, especially at lower levels, for not sidelining them for being different.

Mendis and Malinga weren’t hits at school cricket and they were more or less groomed after they left school. But Jayasuriya and Murali were entirely different. Thankfully their early coaches did not tinker too much with their style.

Coaches nowadays are too engaged in the sport. They roam around the boundary rope providing ball by ball instructions making the captain redundant. Imagine how much impact they’d be having on players at training and there’s little room for creativity.

Cricket Academies are mushrooming as well with little monitoring done and you sense that not many players with unorthodox style are going to be accepted and as a result succeed. There are few rare talents with unorthodox styles. Some bowlers have copied Lasith Malinga and Matheesha Pathirana has earned an IPL deal even before he’s become a permanent fixture in the Sri Lankan side.

Paul Adams earned a nickname ‘frog in the blender’ for his action  and anyone who sees Sri Lankan spinner Kevin Koththigoda from down south will remember the South African wrist spinner.

Funnily Richmond College, Galle seem to be nurturing these special talents and Kamindu Mendis is another player who can  make a big impact. He’s nowadays mostly in the Test squad and nearly featured in the second Test in Wellington. He’s there in the team for his batting but he’s ambidextrous and bowls both left-arm spin and off-spin with good accuracy. That makes him an ideal candidate for shorter formats of the game and that’s where he should perhaps focus more at succeeding.

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Gateway wins Netball Championship

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The victorious Gateway College under 18 Netball team

Gateway College emerged Under 18 Netball Champions at the Inter International School tournament organized by Colombo International School (CIS) played at the Sugadadasa Indoor Stadium.

Gateway College, led by calm and composed Rithika Srikanth, beat Lyceum Wattala 16 -8 in the final after leading 9 – 6 at the breather. Gateway entered the final by beating their counterpart in Kandy 12 -6. At the Group stages, Gateway beat ILMA 16– 5, Lyceum Nugegoda 12 – 1, CIS Colombo 17 – 0 and the British School in Colombo 18 – 0.

Gateway’s young star Shenoshi Abeygunawardena was crowned the Netball Queen and Cloe Thillakaratne was adjudged as the Best Defensive player. Mawrya Liyanage did the vital turnarounds to keep Lyceum Wattala under check and Goal Attack Onadhi Samarakoon was outstanding with her accurate shooting.

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