A chance to end our Olympic medal drought
by Rex Clementine
Population of a nation is no indication of their sporting talents or achievements. Look at Barbados. Their population is less than 300,000 but look at the cricketers they have produced. Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Three Ws, Sir Garry Sobers, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, and the list goes on. Similarly, Fiji with a population of less than 900,000 are sure of a medal at Olympics. Their rugby has not let them down.
Sri Lanka won their first Olympic medal in 1948 in London and had to wait for more than half a century to win their second in Sydney.
At present our athletes qualifying for the Olympics itself is considered a noteworthy achievement by many. Fans don’t expect our stars to go beyond the first round at the games. But there was excitement among local fans this week following the announcement that cricket could feature in the games as early as Los Angeles in 2028, followed by Brisbane 2032 and thereon.
So, countries like Sri Lanka where the main sport is cricket, have got a good chance to have a crack at the Olympics and finish with a medal.
All these years, unless you have a champion like Susanthika Jayasinghe or Duncan White, you had little chance of a medal. You just live in hope that we are able to produce a champion athlete somewhere down the line as we do not reach the required standards to field a side in team sports. But now all that is set to change and we can look forward to the performances of our team when Olympics is around. They could well go on to end the medal drought.
Not just Sri Lanka, but for other Asian nations like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the introduction of cricket is a good opportunity for them to end the medal drought.
Cricket should have featured in the Olympics a long time ago. There was a push to bring the sport into Olympics sometime back. But for a variety of reasons, India blocked the move.
There was a lot of hope that cricket will feature in the 2012 games when London hosted the Olympics with cricket being the national sport of Great Britain. But it was not to be.
However with Jay Shah, Indian cricket’s most powerful man giving the nod for cricket to be included at Olympics, there is a lot of excitement.
There was a time between 2007 to 2014 that Sri Lanka had an excellent run in ICC events. They reached five World Cup finals and won one. Don’t you get the feeling that had cricket been there at Olympics in that period the nation could have won a few medals? Surely, we missed gold.
Moose signs up as cricket’s clothing partner
by Rex Clementine
Singer had been a loyal sponsor of Sri Lankan cricket but a little heard company called Dilmah outbid Singer when the sponsorship was up for grabs in 2002. Singer boss Hemaka Amarasuriya wasn’t whinging and went on record saying that he welcomed local companies coming forward to back the sport.
Within a few years, Dilmah, an entity that was hardly known by most Sri Lankans became a global brand. That exactly is the strategy that Moose have adopted in their bid to become a global brand.
Moose a clothing company that is becoming quite popular among youth for their denims and t-shirts have been associated with cricket sponsorships in the last five years. On Thursday, they announced a four year deal with SLC to be clothing sponsor of the national cricket teams – both men and women.
Moose CEO Hasib Omar is a soft spoken young man who reminds you of the great Aravinda de Silva. But like in Ara’s case, beneath the soft exterior lies a sharp brain.
MAS had been the clothing sponsor of SLC for the last 16 years and Moose has outbid them signing a four year deal that will take them through all bilateral series, ICC events and Asian Cricket Council tournaments. The partnership brings together two of the nation’s main strengths – cricket and apparel industry.
Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move
by Rex Clementine
After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.
One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.
In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.
Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.
It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup. By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.
It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly. On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.
Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.
In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare). The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.
Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest
Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.
Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.
“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.
Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.
A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.
Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.
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