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Aravinda points out flaws in LPL

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by Rex Clementine

One of our formators Rev. Fr. Irwin Morais (OMI) used to remind us that ‘end doesn’t justify the means’. Former cricket great Aravinda de Silva echoed similar sentiments discussing Lanka Premier League with Sunday Island. What does a religious who has taken the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and a cricketer who loves cars and women (usually fast ones) have in common you may wonder. Well, they are both men who believe in excellence in everything they do and encourage lesser mortals like us to follow suit.

Lanka Premier League (LPL) last season was a grand success. Players, board, team owners, television companies, Anil Mohan and everyone made money (except media). But the system had some flaws. Aravinda may have been retired for nearly 20 years now but his cricketing brain is like that of Kerry Packer, streets ahead of others and certainly ahead of times. Meticulously he pointed some burning issues that is affecting the game.

“In most countries where franchise cricket is successful like in India, Australia or UK, the board runs the show. They work closely with franchises, keep renewing depending on how franchises fare. These franchises have been built over a period of time. One thing that is very clear in these countries is that there is transparency and cricketing policies are very clear. Transparency has to be a must moving forward. You can not have new owners popping up every time like mushrooms,” elaborated Aravinda.

Aravinda entered cricket administration barely weeks after his retirement as Vice-President to Thilanga Sumathipala in 2003. He put up a vibrant domestic structure, a provincial cricket tournament that former greats like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have claimed was the best they have played in. Not just the quality of cricket, but that tournament ensured that cricket was decentralized to provinces. It was a ten year plan, but there was some opposition from stakeholders like member clubs. The franchise tournament was mooted by Aravinda five years before Board of Control for Cricket for India had thought of the IPL.

“In a franchise tournament, the most important thing is transparency. We need to build up a credible tournament. The board should take control of things. While the owners build up their franchises, they need to ensure that the game develops as well. That’s the priority. We need to get our priorities right. Along with players, we need to develop our umpires, curators and everyone. Most importantly, the governing body needs to make decisions in the interest of cricket,” Aravinda noted. Basically he seems to be not a big believer in the idea that a third party should be making policy decisions.

Most agree with Aravinda’s theory of transparency. The draft that was held lead up to the second edition was flawed and a farce. Not only were several seniors snubbed, even the ones who had excelled in the recent World Cup did not get a look in. Instead, several players who were not big names even in domestic cricket got a break. Many eyebrows were raised! After a storm of protest, SLC stepped in to ensure there was fair-play.

“The selections need to be done in a proper manner. The process has to be clear. We have to have icon players. There should be a criteria to include international players. We can not have a system where owners can buy their sons to their franchises. That’s wrong. That should not happen. What’s the point of the board having the rights and approval from the ICC. You have to have credible people running the tournament. Otherwise how are we going to develop the game? The guidelines need to be clear and they need to be implemented. The governing body needs to give approvals for these moves. There should be approvals for player managers as well.”

In the IPL, all franchise owners are well known. There’s Mukesh Ambani owning Mumbai Indians, N. Srinivasan owns Chennai Super Kings while Kalanithi Maran is the key man at Sunrisers Hyderabad. But in LPL, barring a few, most owners are unknown. Their interaction with the media is little. Even SLC has complained saying that they can not reach certain team owners.

“There should be a screening process. Are you trying to play some fun cricket or you want to a build a platform where the system is credible, where quality cricket is played and it will help our cricket to move forward. Or do you want to have a carnival atmosphere. This is not a place for people to have fun. Our future cricket depends on this and we have to have a good foundation. If we do not have these, we will be going backwards,” Aravinda pointed out.

Aravinda is of the view that if the product called Lanka Premier League is marketed properly, you don’t have to go overseas to find owners. Big corporates like Maharajas, John Keells, Softlogic, Aitken Spence, HNB and Janashakthi will show interest. “I don’t think you have to depend on overseas owners. If you market this properly, give a product that is credible, if it has a good business proposition and if it is a win win situation for the cricket board and companies, I am sure people will come in. If you speak to leading firms, there’s lot of interest. This will help to develop the whole system,” Aravinda concluded.



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Dimuth on the verge of several batting milestones

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Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne will equal the World Record for most consecutive fifties in Test match cricket if he scores a half-century in the first innings of the second Test against West Indies in Galle starting Monday.

by Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka’s Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne has hit a purple patch this year and the 147 he scored against West Indies in the first Test in Galle this week was his fourth hundred in 2021. The 33-year-old came up with an equally solid 83 in the second essay as Sri Lanka won by 187 runs and a session to spare.

His exploits have seen him accumulating 854 runs this year in Test cricket at an average of 77. Only Joe Root and Rohit Sharma have scored more runs in 2021 although they have played more games with the England captain featuring in 12 Tests and the Indian star appearing in 11 games compared to Dimuth’s six Tests.

Dimuth has now scored six consecutive half-centuries and a 50 in the second Test starting on Monday will see him equaling a World Record shared by six other players. Everton Weeks, Kumar Sangakkara, Andy Flower, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Chris Rogers and K.L. Rahul have all scored seven consecutive fifties in Test cricket.

In the list of most runs in Test cricket for Sri Lanka, Dimuth went past former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga this year and he is currently the ninth highest run scorer. He’s on 5406 runs and if he scores 96 more runs in the second Test, he will knock off three more Sri Lankan greats; Tilan Samaraweera (5462), T.M. Dilshan (5492) and Marvan Atapattu (5502). That will see him sitting at number six among the highest run scorers for the country.

Dimuth is hungry for runs and he wants to finish his career with 10,000 Test runs. Only two other Sri Lankan greats have achieved the milestone. Kumar Sangakkara with 12,400 runs and Mahela Jayawardene with 11,814 runs are the only members of the exclusive 10,000 club.

“Scoring 10,000 runs is my dream. I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve that, but that’s what I’ve got in my mind. If I can continue this form, I’ll be able to get close to 10,000 runs. I like to improve as much as I can, and whenever I finish a match, I’ll go and check where I am on the Sri Lanka run charts, to figure out how many I need to score to pass someone,” Karunaratne explained.

The Sri Lankan captain was Man of the Match as Sri Lanka took a 1-0 lead to retain the Sobers-Tissera Trophy. The win also enabled Sri Lanka to collect 12 points in the ICC Test Championship.

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Amasha smashes Susanthika’s Army record, Roshan dazzles with hurdles feat

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Amasha de Silva smashed Susanthika Jayasinghe’s meet record in the women’s 100 metres.(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

57th Army Athletics Championships  

by Reemus Fernando  

Sprinter Amasha de Silva smashed Olympian Susanthika Jayasinghe’s longstanding Army Athletics Championship 100 metres record and Roshan Dhammika Ranatunga came almost close to breaking his national record in the 110 metres hurdles as they blazed the track on the final day of the Army Athletics Championships at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

Amasha clocked 11.67 seconds to win the women’s 100 metres final ahead of Susanthika’s niece Medhani Jayamanne in the afternoon. She broke Susanthika’s 1994 hand-timed record of 11.6 seconds. With yesterday’s feat, Amasha has now taken both the 100 and 200 metres records of the Army Championships under her belt. The athlete trained by Sanjeewa Weerakkody has a personal best of 10.55 seconds from 2020 and is the fourth fastest athlete in history in the 100 metres behind Susanthika, Damayanthi Dharsha and Rumeshika Ratnayake.

In the morning, Roshan Dhammika produced the second-fastest legal time ever run by a Sri Lankan in the men’s 110 metres hurdles.

Dhammika, who broke Olympian Mahesh Perera’s 24-year-old 110 metres hurdles record at the National Championships four weeks ago, clocked 13.91 seconds to win the gold in the 110 metres hurdles final. The SLEME athlete’s effort had a minus 1.9 wind reading as he finished the event just two milliseconds slower than his national record.

His coach Thiron Gamage was confident that Dhammika would improve his national record once again and he almost achieved the target running against the wind. “He missed the record but with this feat, Dhammika has proved beyond doubt that his national record was not a fluke,” Gamage told The Island after the new meet record performance.

How much he has got to offer was evident from the time Dhammika ran a relaxed heat in the morning. Despite breaking the second hurdle he was still leading when he cleared the last hurdle but slowed down to finish third in the heat.  In the final his only blemish was breaking the last hurdle. Still, he was metres ahead of the rest. With his third sub 14 seconds run (13.97 secs and 13.89 secs at the Nationals) the former Kularatne Central, Godakawela athlete has become the only Sri Lankan to run the distance under that mark legally.

All three athletes who had previously run the distance under 14 seconds, namely Chaminda Fonseka, Supun Viraj Randeniya and Mahesh Perera had wind readings above the legal limit.

Those were not the only impressive track performances as Pabasara Niku produced his personal best with a 46.36 seconds to finish first in the men’s 400 metres final which was minus national champion Kalinga Kumarage and the other leading contender Aruna Dharshana. Dharshana pulled out from the competition due to injury in the semi-finals on Thursday. Harsha Karunaratne who won the 800 metres, finished second behind Niku in a time of 46.83 seconds. In the corresponding women’s event, Nadeesha Ramanayake bagged the gold medal. She clocked 54.54 seconds.

There were two other individual meet record performances from Sarangi Silva in the women’s long jump and Samith Fernando in the men’s shot put.

Sarangi cleared a distance of 6.14 metres to win the long jump. Fernando cleared 16.60 metres to create his record.

Nilani Ratnayake, whose steeplechase feat was adjudged the most outstanding performance in the female category won her third individual gold medal when she clocked 4:25.20 seconds to finish the 1,500 metres. While Samantha Pushpakumara (RMS) won the men’s 10,000 metres in a time of 31:12.28 seconds, H.A.M. Dilrukshi was the winner in the women’s discus throw. Men’s 100 metres winner Himasha Eshan (10.29 secs), who was involved in many victories for the Artillery regiment- the winners of the championship- won the award for the most outstanding performance in the men’s category.

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From the Army Athletics Championships

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The 57th Army Athletics Championships concluded at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday. The five-day event witnessed several record breaking performances by leading national athletes. Here are some action pictures from day five of the championships.

(Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi) 

 

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