by Reemus Fernando
Steeplechaser Nilani Ratnayake was the first Sri Lankan to secure a top ranking in any Olympic sport to have hopes of qualifying for Tokyo Olympics. By end December 2020 she was ranked 35th in the world, well within the required range to secure a berth. But lack of competitions due to the Covid 19 pandemic saw her dropping lower in ranking.. By the time the qualifying period ended on June 29, Ratnayake had dropped to 46th position in the ‘Road to Olympics Rankings.’ That is one ranking position below the World Ranking quota places considered for qualification from this discipline. Yet Sri Lanka Athletics believes that the South Asian Games double gold medallist (1,500m, 5,000m) would get the opportunity to compete in Tokyo. How?
National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka jumped the gun and declared on Monday that both sprinter Yupun Abeykoon and Ratnayake have qualified for the Olympics. But technically World Athletics had not ranked her among the qualified athletes then. According to the latest rankings updated on Wednesday, Ratnayake was ranked 46th in the ‘Road to Olympics Rankings’.
According to the qualifying criteria, a steeplechaser needs to be ranked among the top 45 athletes to secure a ‘World Ranking quota’ place for the Tokyo Games or needs to clock sub nine minutes and 30 seconds to earn direct qualification. Ratnayake has a personal best of 9:46.76 seconds and a seasonal best of 9:53.96 seconds from the last National Championship which was conducted under unfavorable weather conditions. At her last attempt to reach direct qualifying standards or to secure ranking position among the top 45 athletes, Ratnayake could only return a time of 10:12.02 seconds. She was placed third behind Indian athletes at the 60th Interstate Athletics Championship in Patiala on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka Athletics statistician Saman Kumara said that Ratnayake has still got a chance to compete in Tokyo as few top ranked athletes are unlikely to take part in the Games. “Australia has three runners who have qualified for the event. But they are likely to send only one athlete. That means that there will be opportunity for Ratnayake,” said Saman Kumara.
“There are other countries who would send only one athlete to the Olympics despite more than one athlete reaching qualifying standards,” he said. He said that Ratnayake’s position will be known within the next couple of days.
According to World Athletics ‘Road to Olympic Rankings’ updated on Wednesday, Kenya, USA, Ethiopia, Germany, Canada, Australia and Hungary were dominating the top rankings. These countries were eligible to field at least three of their athletes for the Tokyo event.
India crowned champions of inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup
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.
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
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.
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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