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A laughing stock



by Rex Clementine

We were a nation that reinvented how the one-day game was played. Our players were so skilful that they dominated the sport particularly in the white ball formats. Many are the careers that Sanath Jayasuriya ended with his brutal hitting. Many were the games that ended before noon after Chaminda Vaas ran through the top order. Many were the series that Sri Lanka won with a game to spare and then half a dozen seniors were rested for the dead rubber blooding in some promising youngsters. Today, England, the perennial underachievers in limited overs cricket are giving us a taste of our own medicine.

Not even during the nation’s formative years in the sport in 1980s, Sri Lanka suffered such ignominious defeats. Losing is part of the game, but what has been worrying is the manner in which Sri Lanka lost, unable to find the boundary in the Power Plays and unable to bat out the full quota of 20 overs. Surely, a school team would show more character and courage than this.

To make matters worse, the players are adamant that they will not sign central contracts. Four of them who were supposed to attend a residential training camp in Dambulla ahead of the India series were sent home on Saturday for their stubbornness.

England are the defending champions in the 50 over game and world’s number one ranked team in the 20 over format, not many fans expected Kusal Perera’s side return victorious when they went to UK. But at least, it was expected the team will put up a fight. The batting display they put up throughout the series was shocking to say the least. In England, you expect a team to improve on their batting performances as they spend more time on tour. Sri Lankan batting went on the reverse faring worse every game.

Batting has been a concern for some time now no doubt. There have been various excuses given over the last six months but it is tough to imagine how Grant Flower, the Batting Coach, will survive this debacle. When put under pressure, the options that the batsmen took were simply no good.

What’s more shocking is that coaches like Mickey Arthur and Tom Moody, who have been in the business for long enough now have failed to address tactical issues. The buck, however, should not stop with Flower, Arthur or Moody. We need to take a serious look at things.

Oshada Fernando has been one of our best finds in the last five years. But for god’s sake, he’s a solid Test match player. Why on earth would you expect him to convert his Test match successes in the T-20 format? The excuse that’s going to be given is that Oshada came in only because Avishka Fernando was injured. That’s correct but should you not have enough T-20 cricketers as back up especially now that you are carrying an extended squad.

To add insult to injury, Oshada was coming in when the Power Play was on. Now this is an area that you have been badly exposed earlier in the series and should you be not sending in someone who can clear the boundary? Sri Lanka played a brand of cricket making most of the fielding restrictions two and half decades ago. Today, our players are struggling to find the boundary. For Sanath Jayasuriya, hitting five boundaries in an over was something that he did frequently. Today, our entire team put together is not able to hit six boundaries in 20 overs.

It was clearly evident that Oshada did not belong there. Into the bargain, he’s also an average fielder and a poor runner between the wickets. Another person who doesn’t belong in T-20 format is Dhananjaya de Silva. Surely, we have seen enough of these players to know that in what format they are good at. But how come the decision makers aren’t so sure of these?

When Bhanuka Rajapaksa gets his act together and passes the fitness tests, Sri Lanka will have lesser headaches perhaps. Another guy who has to be seriously looked at for the T-20 format is Sadeera Samarawickrama. His attitude, work ethic and skill set were so good when he toured India and UAE in 2017. But ever since, he has not got a look in.

Here are some of the bigger issues that need to be addressed by all concerned. When the system was given a shake up with as many as six seniors axed from the white ball team, it was a welcome move as change was long overdue. However, the choice of captain was rather perplexing. Now, KJP is one of the nicest guys you will find in cricket. He minds his own business and not a social media warrior which most of our young players are. But he’s also an introvert. You have taken the tough decision of axing all your senior players, but then, how come you give flimsy reasons like that KJP is the only guy who is sure of a place in the side when handing him the captaincy? At one point you are being bold and few minutes later you are extra cautious.

Surely, there’s Dasun Shanaka who dethroned Pakistan as world’s number one ranked team in T-20s not so long ago. Why wasn’t he given the job back? Mysterious indeed. The first thing that KJP does after being appointed captain is to say that he is going to keep wickets. That put Niroshan Dickwella out of the side. Now, we are told that Dickwella was offered a top contract because he features in all three formats. Are these people taking us for a ride?

There are many changes that have happened in cricket and some of them are welcoming moves. But something that authorities are unable to do is changing the domestic structure. The moment we say this, the clubs are on war path. They treat the press like the plague. Provincial or club cricket, our elite domestic tournament can’t have two dozen teams. The rot started there. It was increased to please member clubs in 2016. Since then, our cricket has suffered new lows.


India crowned champions of inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup




The Shafali Verma-led side beat England in the final by seven wickets

Titas Sadhu, Archana Devi and Parshavi Chopra took two scalps each while Gongadi Trisha and Soumya Tiwari made useful scores as India Under-19 scripted a memorable seven wicket win over England Under-19 to seal the inaugural Women’s Under-19 World Cup in Potchefstroom. India U19 chased down the paltry target of 69 in the 14th over.

Brief scores:

England U19 68 in 17.1 overs (Ryana Macdonald Gay 19; Titas Sadhu 2-6) lost to India U19 69/3 in 14 overs (Soumya Tiwari 24*; Alexa Stonehouse 1-8) by seven wickets


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ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup



The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).

Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.

The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.

“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.

“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”

The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.


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ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected



The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.

The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.

The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.

The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”

The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.

“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.

With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.


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