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Arjuna, Time to return to cricket 

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by Rex Clementine

On the day Arjuna Ranatunga retired from cricket – August 10, 2000, there was a media briefing at the old Oberoi Hotel, now Cinnamon Grand. There was an offer for him to join Sri Lanka Cricket as one of the Directors.  But, at the same time then President Chandrika Kumaratunga requested him to join politics.  He chose the latter, going in the footsteps of his father Reggie Ranatunga, a stalwart of Sri Lanka Freedom Party. A few months later at the General Elections that was held, he was elected to Parliament from Colombo District winning handsomely.

Since then, he has won four General Elections from three different districts and three different parties.  This time, with the United National Party suffering an electoral debacle, Arjuna was one of the casualties. Every cloud has a silver lining and the political defeat could be a blessing in disguise as it presents Arjuna an opportunity to get involved full time with the game of cricket.

The restructured cricket board in 2000 had four Directors – Duleep Mendis as Director Cricket Operations, Jerome Jayaratne as Director Coaching, Jayantha Kudahetty as Director Marketing and K.T. Francis as Director Umpiring. International cricket was to come directly under Arjuna’s purview. Eventually, the spot was never filled.

Arjuna did have brief stints at SLC. From 2003 to 2005 he was Chairman of Cricket Committee, the advisory arm to the Executive Committee of the board and in 2008 he headed the board. But on both occasions, he was heavily involved in politics and his full focus wasn’t on cricket. He has also had a few cracks in SLC elections but has been unable to attract cricket’s stakeholders.

Away from politics, it’s an ideal opportunity for Arjuna to get involved with the game again and focus fully on development of the game. Be it as Chairman of Selectors, Manager of the national cricket team or even as coach of the ‘A’ team, Arjuna has much to offer and the game will certainly benefit with his involvement.

There is something unique about the way people like Duleep Mendis, Anura Tennekoon and Arjuna read the game of cricket. They are quick to spot special talents as well.

Arjuna was SLC Chairman in 2008 when India toured the island and with several requests coming his way from Indian journalists for interviews, he decided to address a media briefing. It happened at SSC and after the briefing there was an interaction. Arjuna kept on asking the visiting journalists the whereabouts of a certain player by the name of Rohit Sharma!

Arjuna went onto say that he had seen him during the Under-19 World Cup and that Sharma had a special talent.  He also told them that Sharma is going to break lots of records if he keeps his head clear of distractions. Now, most of the journalists from India had no clue about Rohit Sharma at that stage. But soon they started learning what impact he can make. That is Arjuna. He sees things differently and he is stubborn to hold onto those ideas no matter the consequences. It is time for him to take   fresh guard at SLC or his beloved SSC.

 



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Prabath Jayasuriya crowned ICC Player of the Month for July

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Sri Lanka’s newest spin sensation Prabath Jayasuriya and England’s Emma Lamb, who starred atop the order in her side’s whitewash series victory over South Africa were announced as the winners of the ICC Player of the Month awards for July 2022. The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement yesterday.

Jayasuriya claims the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on the back of an outstanding series of displays with the ball, where his remarkable haul of wickets sees him crowned ahead of rival contenders England’s Jonny Bairstow – who won the Men’s award back in June – and French youngster Gustav McKeon.

During Sri Lanka’s three Test matches on home soil in July, Jayasuriya stepped into the squad for the first time in the longest format and made an immediate impact against formidable opponents. After his side was humbled in the first Test defeat to Australia, the spinner celebrated a prolific Test debut, taking six for 118 in the first innings, and following up with an even more impressive six for 59 in the second to claim the final Test and draw the series. Jayasuriya kept his momentum going into the two-Test showdown against Pakistan later in the month, taking seventeen wickets across the series and ending July with staggering figures of 29 wickets at an average of 20.37.

On being named the ICC Men’s Player of the Month, Jayasuriya said: ‘’I am delighted with this announcement, and wish to thank the fans for voting me as the ICC Men’s Player of the Month. Certainly it has been an incredible month for me, as I made the Test debut, and also got the opportunity to contribute for my team to level the Test series played against Australia and Pakistan.”

“I take this opportunity to thank my fans, teammates, coaches, family and friends for helping my journey, and thrilled with what I am experiencing at this moment in my life.”

Irfan Pathan, former India international and ICC Player of the Month voting panel member, said: “Being a newcomer to Test cricket and starting with two five-wicket hauls in your first match is extraordinary, and it’s all the more impressive against a team like Australia. A tally of 29 wickets in just three Tests is too good to be overlooked and for that, he is my ICC Men’s Player of the Month.”

Emma Lamb was voted the ICC Women’s Player of the Month for July following her thrilling start to life opening the batting in England’s victorious ODI series victory over South Africa. Lamb consistently laid the foundations for her side to claim victory in each of the three matches, with her most notable contribution coming in the first match in Northampton.

Her outstanding 102 in which she displayed a wide array of classy stroke play set her on course for a stellar month, and she followed up this milestone by posting two further half-centuries to strengthen her credentials as a supremely talented top order batter, with a very bright future ahead.

On winning the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July, Lamb commented: “It’s very exciting to have been awarded the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award for July. I’m very happy to have earned my spot at the top of the order in the Test and ODI team and it’s been brilliant to be able to score some runs and help the team win.

“Everyone in the squad contributed to our multi-format series win against South Africa so I just want to keep scoring runs for the team – I feel very lucky that my performances across the last month have been rewarded and I hope to carry on my good form.”

Lamb secures the ICC Women’s Player of the Month award at the first time of asking, overcoming fellow nominees; England’s Nat Sciver and India’s Renuka Singh.

Fans can continue to vote every month for their favourite male and female cricketers across all formats of international cricket as part of the ICC Player of the Month initiative by registering at www.icc-cricket.com/awards.

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Sri Lanka off to great start

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Davis Cup

Yashitha de Silva, Harshana Godamanne and doubles pair Thehan Wejemanne and Chathurya Nilaweera gave hosts a robust start to their Davis Cup campaign as they beat Bangladesh 3-0 in the opening encounter at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

The seven nation event started yesterday with the hosts taking on Bangladesh in a Group A encounter. The other team in group A is Kyrgyzstan.

In the first singles match De Silva beat Ranjan Ram 6-3, 6-0, before Godamanne registered 6-1, 6-3 win against Rubel Hossain in the second singles match.

In the doubles match Wijemanne and Nilaweera beat Kawsar Ali and MD Rana 6-0, 6-1.

Sri Lanka will next meet Kyrgyzstan on August 11. The tournament will conclude on August 13.

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Troubles not over for junior athletics team

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by Reemus Fernando

A girl and two boys of Sri Lanka’s junior track and field team have tested positive for Covid 19 prior to their departure to Sri Lanka after the conclusion of the World Junior Athletics Championships in Cali, Colombia on Sunday.

The team of seven which endured many difficulties before leaving for Colombia did well during the World Junior Championships with four athletes advancing from the first round and two producing national junior records. Now with part of the team returning positive results for Covid 19 they will have to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine.

Sri Lanka Athletics sources said that Susantha Fernando, the manager on tour was remaining in Colombia to accompany the athletes undergoing week long isolation, while team coach Badra Gunawardena, the female official in the team was on her way home.

A source close athletics said that Gunawardena’s return without staying with the team would likely to cause trouble as Ministry of Education protocols require a female official to stay with the team when there are school girls in teams.

Sources also confirmed that four athletes who left Colombia on Sunday were not accompanied by an official. The four school athletes were to be joined by coach Gunawardena in Panama, their first transit.

The team remained uncertain of their participation in the World Junior Championship until the eleventh hour due to lack of funds. After media reported their plight sports authorities intervened. However undue delays in obtaining visas and unavailability of air tickets made officials to cancel the tour before a media backlash forced officials to make eleventh hour interventions to take the tour back on track.

But the eleventh hour intervention and flight delays meant that two athletes missed their pet events after arriving late in Cali.

However of the six athletes who took part in the championships four advanced from the first round and three reached personal best performances. Two athletes, javelin thrower Rumesh Tharanga and 400 metres hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana established national junior records. Triple jumper and Pasindu Malshan and thrower Tharanga reached the finals of their respective events.

With three athletes and an official having to stay seven days in isolation the team will have to bear additional costs.

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