The Badminton National Championship 2020 concluded with Olympian Niluka Karunaratne successfully defending the men’s singles title and Hasini Ambalangodage clinching the women’s singles title in Colombo on Sunday. Here are some action pictures from the final day of the competition.
How Arjuna spotted and nurtured Praveen Jayawickrama’s talent
by Rex Clementine
As Sri Lanka ended their Test win drought that had stretched for 16 months, they had an unlikely hero. Praveen Jayawickrama, a left-arm orthodox spinner on debut was Man of the Match, finishing with figures of 11 for 178, the tenth best bowling figures by a debutant in Test match cricket.
Despite having played just ten First Class games before his Test debut, Jayawickrama bowled like a man who had been in the professional circuit for years. The turn he was able to produce was quite handful when the wicket started crumbling, but he also had control, guile and a clever arm ball. His rise has surprised many Sri Lankans but not World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who predicted a bright future for the youngster when he saw him a decade ago and took him under his wings.
“Ten years ago, my school Holy Cross College, Kalutara wanted to do a full day training camp for all the cricketers of the school. Arjuna was the Member of Parliament from the area at that point. So we asked him whether he could come along and help us. He readily agreed,’’ Sunil Silva, an old boy of the school and the Most Popular Schoolboy cricketer of the Year in 1986 told The Island.
“I remember Praveen sent down his first delivery and Arjuna stopped the next bowler and had a word with Praveen. He then sent down a couple of more deliveries, Arjuna turned to me and said, ‘Sunil, I see a bit of Ajit de Silva in this kid.”
Ajit de Silva, also a left-arm orthodox spinner, played in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test and later was banned for 25 years for going on the rebel tour to apartheid South Africa in 1982.
After the session, Ranatunga met the Rector of the school and inquired more about young Praveen. “Arjuna came up to me and said, Father, look after this kid. He is a special talent. He had no doubt Praveen would go onto play for Sri Lanka,” Rev. Fr. Camillus Fernando, the Rector of Holy Cross told The Island.
Ranatunga was conducting a cricket academy for the kids of that area every weekend and Praveen was invited to attend. He made steady progress and went onto represent Sri Lanka Under-19.
“Praveen’s father passed away when he was small. We have four kids,” Praveen’s mother Nimali told The Island.
“Praveen is our second son. The eldest son, got a law degree. The third son just got selected to University in Engineering. The fourth son is also good at studies. Only Praveen missed out on his studies. In fact, he could not sit for GCE AL exams. All the time he was occupied with games either with the school or with Sri Lanka Under-19. This was troubling me. But I remembered Arjuna’s words that one day he would go onto play for Sri Lanka. Therefore, I did not stop Praveen’s cricket and let him continue to play,” she added.
Speaking to The Island, Ranatunga said that there are lots of talent away from Colombo but they do not get nurtured properly. “I have always believed that outstations produce some superb talents. Look at Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan or Rangana Herath. But we don’t invest much on outstations. Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis took 17 wickets in the second Test that Sri Lanka won and both are from outstations.”
“Praveen has great potential. I have no doubt about that. But then, the important thing is young players need to be guided well. Discipline is the key. Talent will get you somewhere, but you need to work hard and stay disciplined to achieve greater things,” Ranatunga a veteran of 93 Tests added.
“He is not the finish product yet. There are a few technical areas he has to work on. I think his right arm is falling too soon. He needs to work on his endurance. If he can spend some time with someone like Murali, that would be ideal. But he is a smart kid with an ability to outsmart the batsmen. That’s a very rare skill. I am sure we are seeing a special guy here. We will hear a lot about him in years to come,” Ranatunga added.
Yasitha, Sankha win men’s doubles title
GSTC Successfully conducts mega prize money tournament
The Government Servants’ Tennis Club, popularly known as GSTC, successfully completed a mega prize money ranking tournament, while strictly following all Covid 19 protocols. The GSTC Prestige prize money all island doubles tournament witnessed 29 pairs battling out in the men’s category.
The prize money was the biggest ever in the history of Sri Lankan Tennis for a doubles tournament. The men’s as well as the women’s doubles champions were given an attractive cash prize of Rs 100,000.00 each while the runners up pairs in both categories got Rs 50,000.00 each. They were also awarded trophies and a gift pack from YETI.
GSTC has three regularly maintained clay courts and has recently floodlit all the courts too. Government Servants’ Tennis Club is nearly a century old tennis club and attracts juniors, veterans and the budding youngsters too into its membership fold.
The results of the men’s doubles:
Men’s Doubles Final:
Yasitha de Silva and Sankha Atukorale beat Savit Weerasinghe and Archana Lokuge.
Thisara Perera announces international retirement
Thisara Perera was an important part of some of country’s prominent highs in white-ball cricket over the last decade.
Thisara Perera announced his retirement from international cricket at the age of 32 yesterday, informing the board in a letter that it was the right time for him to “step aside and pave the way for younger and more talented players” while focusing more on his family life and personal goals.
Perera ends a limited-overs career that spanned over 11 years after making his debut in December 2009, during which he represented Sri Lanka in 166 ODIs (2338 runs, 175 wickets) and 84 T20Is (1204 runs, 51 wickets). He played the last of his six Tests back in 2012.
Perera was an important part of some of country’s prominent highs in white-ball cricket over the last decade, like the T20 World Cup win in 2014 where he knocked off the winning runs against India in the final. A hard-hitting batsman lower down the order, he also made an impression in the World Cup final in 2011 against India.
“I take pride in the fact that I was able to represent Sri Lanka in seven cricket World Cups and be a contributing member of the 2014 T20 World Cup win against India in Bangladesh,” Perera said. “Easily the highlight of my life.”
There were many other highlights in Perera’s career as well. He was appointed captain of both ODI and T20I sides in 2017. In 2019, the left-hander blasted his maiden ODI hundred, scoring 140 off just 74 balls against New Zealand – an innings that included 13 sixes which is the most by a Sri Lanka player. He is the only Sri Lankan to hit six sixes in an over in any form of professional cricket. Perera’s impact with the ball was a lot gentler, although he does have an ODI as well as a T20I hattrick to his name. With his medium-pace, he provided the balance to the team.
“Thisara was a brilliant all-rounder, who has contributed immensely as a player to Sri Lanka Cricket and played a part in some of the glorious cricketing moments of the country,” said Ashley De Silva, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Perera last played for Sri Lanka earlier this year against West Indies, featuring in both ODI and T20I series.
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