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Ashen Bandara set to raise Sri Lanka’s fielding standards

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Ashen Bandara has been named in the Sri Lankan squad for the first time.(The Papare)

by Rex Clementine

Over the years, there’s been a few concerns about Sri Lanka’s poor fielding standards. Dropped catches have cost the national cricket team dearly with costliest of them being at the Champions Trophy in 2017 in Wales when Thisara Perera put down Sarfraz Ahmed. At the post match media briefing, the Pakistan captain rubbed salt into wounds saying, ‘I will remember it for the rest of my life and he will remember it for the rest of his life.’ Pakistan went onto win the title beating arch-rivals India in the final at The Oval. Mickey Arthur was Pakistan’s coach.

Arthur desperately searches for fielding excellence and he was able to raise Pakistan’s standards. He seems like pushing for excellence in fielding with Sri Lanka too and several young players who are good fielders are being drafted into the side and the most exciting of them all is Ashen Bandara.

Galle has produced many fine cricket talents in recent years with Richmond College producing most of these standout players. Bandara, however, is from St. Aloysius.

In 2017, during the Galle Test against India, a few players were injured and soon word was sent to the closest school to the ground to send a few players just in case of emergency. So St. Aloysius sent down a few of their First XI cricketers and Ashen was one of them.

In fact, Ashen had to come onto the field for a session. He was electric – diving around and sprinting like a cheetah to cut off boundaries. He caught the imagination of Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who predicted a bright future for the young kid.

That Ashen would go onto make headlines in international cricket was first predicted by Upul Chandana, the fielding coach of Sri Lanka Under-19.

“We are really pleased that both Ashen Bandara and Pathum Nissanka are joining us on tour for the first time. They are both dynamic and versatile in the field which is a credit to Manoj Abeywickrama and the staff at High Performance Center,” Shane McDermott, Fielding Coach of the Sri Lankan team told The Island.

“Ashen is very exciting young talent. He hits the ball well and he is very athletic. He has a good technique and he is electrifying in the field,” Head Coach Mickey Arthur said.



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Selection impasse continues 

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by Rex Clementine  

Sri Lanka Cricket and Ministry of Sports are at daggers drawn and virtually naming of new selectors has become impossible after SLC submitted the same set of names to be reappointed. SLC wants a fresh term for Pramodaya Wickramasinghe under whose tenure the team won the Asia Cup. The Sports Ministry meanwhile wants Wicky gone. Among other things, they aren’t happy that he retained Danushka Gunatilleke on tour after he was injured during the World Cup. The top order batsman brought international shame to the country after his arrest in Sydney. He was charged with sexual assault.   In order to break the deadlock, the Sports Ministry now  wants to issue a gazette and call for interested former players to apply. The age old practice has been for SLC to advertise for the post and among the applicants, ten names are handpicked and sent to the Sports Ministry, which then chooses five out of those ten names and appoint them as selectors. But it’s all going to change now. The board will no longer have a say on selections. The selectors are answerable to the Ministry of Sports. But the board will pay their salaries. This is not an ideal situation and let’s hope it’s just a one off. SLC should have known better and instead of going on a collision course should have negotiated for a better deal.

Getting selectors to apply is never the ideal thing. Greg Chappell was a selector of Australia for a long period of time and if someone had asked him to apply he would have given that person a piece of his mind. Chappell’s role was a unique one from rest of the panel. He was responsible to alert the selectors on the next biggest talent in the country having scrutinized a player.

Similarly a Sidath Wettimuny, an Aravinda de Silva or  a Marvan Atapattu aren’t going to apply for the post of selector. They’ll come and serve if protocols are followed and obviously they would want a free hand. That’s the best way forward too. Surely you don’t want your best brains left behind simply because they didn’t apply for a post. What’s it with Wicky that he wants to hold onto this post so much. He needs to learn to let go. He’s anyway known as someone who’ll not take a backward step but what about little Kalu? Now that’s a man who is very conscious about his  reputation. If the system doesn’t want you, then there’s no point in hanging around. Take a break and make a comeback when there’s an opportunity. The present selectors maybe feeling that they have done a good job and need a fresh term. Well it doesn’t always happen that way.

Duleep Mendis is a case in point. Through meticulous planning, he had helped the national team for a maiden Test win in South Africa in 2011. The whole county was excited at what the team had achieved. Yet, two weeks later he was sacked along with captain T.M. Dilshsn and Head Coach Geoff Marsh.

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Bangladesh selectors okay if Hathurusingha is included in selection panel

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There’s been a buzz after BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced that newly-appointed coach Hathurusingha will have a say in selection, although a decision on whether he will be officially included in the selection panel like in the past is yet to be made.

“Whether Hathurusingha will be included in the selection panel will be decided by the board. There are two selections: preliminary (squad) and final selection (playing XI),” said Nazmul Hasan, BCB President. “The final selection is always made by the captain and coach, and the captain decides whereas the coach gives suggestions but basically it is the captain.”

Many feel that if Hathurusingha is included in the selection panel, that will take away power from the selectors. However, BCB’s chief selector Minhajul Abedin and his long time associate in the selection panel Habibul Bashar disagree with it.

“I am not sure whether he will be included in the selection panel or not but I don’t think it will be a problem and we didn’t have any problems last time too,” Minhajul told Cricbuzz on Thursday, adding that he is in regular touch with the Sri Lankan to keep him updated.

Habibul told Cricbuzz that he has seen Hathurusingha working from close quarters and feels that there are lots of misconceptions floating in the air about him.

“It is not true that he had given us a paper” said Habibul. “We always discussed about our team with the head coach and always take his suggestion whether he is a part of selection panel or not. And it was the same with him as well.

“I don’t think he is any kind of strict headmaster. Instead what I feel is that he always looked at the cricketers equally.”

Khaled Mahmud, current team director and a close ally of Hathurusingha, feels that Hathurusingha is now much more matured than before.

“He has worked in Bangladesh before. There were a lot of good performances during his time. He is more mature now, which is good for the team. I think it is a positive thing that he is coming for a second time. He understands us well, as he is also from the subcontinent.” said Mahmud, who had worked as team manager during Hathurusingha’s first stint

Hathurusingha spent three years from 2014 to 2017 before leaving abruptly for the Sri Lanka role. He is expected to arrive by January 20 and his first assignment will be against England at home.

(Cricbuzz)

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SportUnleash Schools Sports Awards 2022

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Fifteen outstanding school sports persons were felicitated at the inaugural SportUnleash School Sports Awards 2022 held at the BMICH recently.Minister of Education Susil Premajayanth was the chief guest at the awards ceremony while MP Eran Wickramaratne was the guest of honor.

The award winners for 2022

ATHLETICS:

Track events-Nadun Kaveesha Bandara of Royal College, Colombo,

Field events –

Ashmika Keshan Korala of Yoshida International School, Sapugaskanda,

BADMINTON: Viren Nettasinghe of St Peter’s College,

BASKETBALL:GG Minoli Mariya Direkze of HFC Bambalapitiya,

BOXING: Pasindu Umayanga Mihiran, Nalanda College,

CHESS: LM Susal T de Silva, Nalanda College,

CRICKET: Dunith Wellalage, St Joseph’s College,

KARATE: CA Tharuki Sashindi, Sapugaskanda Visaka Vidyalaya,

NETBALL:

Hiruni Heshani, HFC Kurunegala,

ROWING: Shaylon Shayan Gunaratna, Asian International School,

RUGBY: Dinupa Seneviratna, DS Senanayake College,

SWIMMING:Ganga Seneviratne, Visaka Vidyalaya,

TENNIS:Dinara de Silva, St Bridget’s Convent,

VOLLEYBALL:Kavishka Madushanka, Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella,

WRESTLING: Nethmi Ahinsa Fernando, Welpalla Sangharathana Maha Vidyalaya, Giriulla,

COACH OF THE YEAR: TS Suranga Kumara,

SPORTING SCHOOL –Nalanda College.

The Jury Medals for Sports Excellence, were awarded to Danindu Chirath Sellepperuma of Ananda College and Vishmi Gunaratne of Rathnawali Balika Vidyalaya, Gampaha for their noteworthy performance in cricket and to Tharushi Karunarathne of A. Ratnayake MMV, Walala in Athletics.

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