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Australia in total control with last-ball Root wicket



Australia maintained their vice-like grip on the second Test, ripping out four England wickets before the close of day four at Adelaide Oval. Half-centuries from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne had enabled the home side to declare their second innings 467 runs ahead, and with more than four sessions still to play – and although England fought to see out the night under lights, the dismissal of Joe Root from what became the final ball of the day was a hammer blow to their hopes of salvaging something from the game.

Already 1-0 up in the series and sitting on a 282-run lead overnight, the contest was set up for Australia from the outset. England managed to chip away and avoid being completely overrun, but by the time that Steven Smith called his men back to the dressing room just over an hour into the evening session, the scale of their task in attempting to avoid an 11th defeat from 12 in Australia was clear.

England’s brittle batting was soon back in the spotlight – and before the floodlights had even started to fire up. Jhye Richardson struck with his sixth ball, Haseeb Hameed propping forward only to see the ball prance and take him on the glove, as England’s opening stand – so far worth 0, 23, 7 and 4 in the series – failed again.

Rory Burns did succeed in carving out some time at the crease, as he and Dawid Malan battled through to tea and beyond during a 44-run partnership. But with the pink ball, glowing in the twilight, fizzing and spitting at the behest of Nathan Lyon, who bowled a relentlessly probing round-the-wicket line to the two left-handers, it seemed only a matter of time before further Australians dividends would be forthcoming.

Lyon deserved to make the breakthrough, only for Smith to put down a regulation slip catch with Malan on 19. The reprieve was brief, however, as Michael Neser found some nip back in to beat a tentative defensive push and pin Malan lbw to his very next ball – a dismissal upheld with three reds on review.

Burns used the DRS to overturn a caught-behind decision on 30, and had faced 95 balls when he finally succumbed to Richardson, who scrambled the seam to produce a thick edge that was taken low in the cordon. Root and Ben Stokes then battened down the hatches in an attempt to reach the close. They were just two balls away from achieving that goal when Root, having been hit painfully on the box a few overs earlier – the second low blow he had suffered in the day – edged Mitchell Starc behind to spark jubilation among the Australians.

It was not a good day for English dignity. In a hole and facing the prospect of Australia steadily driving home their advantage, the tourists initially took the field without their captain, Root requiring a scan after being hit in what the ECB euphemistically termed “the abdomen” while taking some throwdowns – this time not wearing a box. It all added to the sense that this Ashes tour is becoming yet another cock-up and balls story.

A lively start followed, belying the lack of tension in the game. Neser was nearly run out from the first ball of the afternoon, the nightwatchman only just making his ground to beat a direct hit from point after being sent back. He was then bowled in the second over, James Anderson finding some seam movement to beat Neser’s forward defensive and hit the top of middle stump.

Two balls later, Stuart Broad found Marcus Harris’ outside edge to dismiss the Australia opener for the fifth time in four Tests – Jos Buttler completing the dismissal with a flying one-handed catch. But the punchline was still to come, as Broad induced a first-ball nick behind from Smith, only for Buttler to send an easier chance clanging to the ground. (Cricinfo)


When your best brains call the shots



by Rex Clementine

There’s a feeling that the national cricket team has turned things around in white ball cricket after some humiliating experiences in the last seven years where there were whitewashes in plenty and failure to earn automatic qualifications for ICC events. Sri Lanka’s come from behind win in the Asia Cup in UAE is definite indication that the team has certainly made a leap forward. A few people were quick to take credit for the team’s success. As they say, victory has thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.

There are some individuals who have enjoyed Sri Lanka’s recent success but haven’t gone onto claim credit. Former captain Aravinda de Silva and his Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan certainly deserves much credit for revamping the cricket structure and introducing some drastic change.

One of Aravinda’s committee’s main decisions was to bring in youth for white ball teams. The young team wasn’t covering themselves in glory at the initial stages and the idea was even frowned upon. However, with constant exposure and with Dasun Shanaka chosen as the new captain, the team started to compete and earlier this month in UAE hit a purple patch. To win five games in a row was quite an achievement and when you think that three of those wins were against India and Pakistan, world’s number one and two ranked teams, you realize how special this was.

There was also a new fitness regime that was introduced around that time. It became a bone of contention with several players becoming ineligible for selections after failing fitness tests. It helped that Sri Lanka had a Head Coach in Mickey Arthur who valued fitness immensely. This resulted in players taking fitness seriously and the consequences of that were less injuries and improved performances.

Restructuring of the coaching department by depending heavily on local talents was another area that was done by the Cricket Advisory Committee. It was not only the national team that was looked at but dedicated coaching staff for under-19, development squad and the ‘A’ team were timely moves.

Another decision taken by them was introducing a new payment scheme for players whereby a performance based system was introduced. Although it was challenged at the start, the stakeholders bought into the new system as it was on merit rather than seniority. The Cricket Advisory Committee’s tenure was short lived but the structures that they put in place were vital in reviving the fortunes of the national cricket team.

Not all parties agreed with the changes that were introduced but they were needed. The Asia Cup win was Sri Lanka’s first major series triumph in eight years. If Sri Lanka wishes consistency on the cricket field moving forward, we need to make most of some of the best brains that we have in the game. Credit should go to Sri Lanka Cricket as well for agreeing to take a back seat and allowing their former captains to call the shots on vital matters in a bid to make the national cricket team competitive again.

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Junior Development Committee commences Youth Awakening 2026 ahead of next Youth Olympics



The Junior Development Committee (JDC) appointed by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) is launching its operations under the program “Youth Awakening 2026” to identify and support young sportsmen and women of the highest caliber with a focus to produce star class athletes and increased success for the Sri Lanka National team in the international arena.

“Youth Awakening 2026” being the first of its kind looks to provide young athletes with consistent and continuous mentoring and training through a comprehensive threefold strategy adapted by the Junior Development Committee, by way of Programs, Direct Athlete Support and Funding.

“When it comes to high performance, we take the top athletes in Sri Lanka. Although they are top in Sri Lanka they are far below against the rest of the world and the strategy put together by the JDC would be the answer that would raise the standard of sports in Sri Lanka and allow our athletes to compete with the rest of the world” says Chairman of the Junior Development Committee of the NOC Shirantha Peiris.

Through Programs created and developed to promote fundamental principles and values of Olympians in Sri Lanka, Athletes could look forward to being connected with trainers, nutritionists and sports psychologists who would play a key role in creating a healthy mindset and a positive approach towards their education, sports, and career.

Young High Potential players are offered a unique advantage with the ‘Direct Athlete Support Program’ designed to identify and provide opportunities aimed to facilitate their development and expose them to the next level of their chosen pathway through School Placement programs and holistic sports training. Two interesting developments of the program include a ‘Health cover’: where all JDC contracted athletes will be provided with a free of charge medical cover for the duration of their contract; as well as a ‘Medal incentive funding program’ that would promulgate state funded grants or corporate funded incentives to athletes who showcase true potential to win a medal in the international games.

The JDC takes pride in this unparalleled and one-of-a-kind program that is fully self-funded thereby reiterating its ethos which is to uplift athletics in Sri Lanka. Development of merchandise, marketing international competitions to attract sponsors, sustainability initiatives are a few steps taken towards direct funding.

While the JDC, through “Youth Awakening 2026” will truly awaken athletics in Sri Lanka to its true potential, Sri Lanka will see a continuity of top-notch athletes being produced making it an unceasing revolution. This movement is an ever advancing one, that would resonate throughout; in the face of Youth Olympics, Youth Paralympics, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games etc. which presents itself as an excellent opportunity for corporates to add to their story and join hands with this exceptional initiative by dedicating themselves towards transforming the sports scene in Sri Lanka.

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Men’s Ashes 2023 to begin on June 16 at Edgbaston




Men’s Ashes 2023 will get underway on June 16, with the first Test at Edgbaston. The last of the five Tests will begin on July 27 at the Oval, with Lord’s Headingley and Old Trafford hosting the three in between. These are the same five venues that hosted Ashes 2019. ECB also confirmed that the 2023 World Test Championship final will be held at the Oval in June, while the 2025 final will be hosted by Lord’s. The Women’s Ashes meanwhile, will begin on June 22, with one five-day Test match at Trent Bridge. Australia and England will then play three ODIs and three T20Is – the last of which will be played on July 18. Edgbaston, Lord’s and the Oval will host women’s Ashes T20Is for the first time.

“The Ashes series are among the most significant sporting events in world sport and we are looking forward to these highly anticipated contests in England next year, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said.

“There is no bigger challenge than retaining the Ashes away from home. There is huge excitement from our teams as they look to write themselves into Ashes folklore.

Australia will also travel to England for a T20I series early next month in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup Down Under. Following the multi-team event, Australia then host England for a three-match Dettol ODI Series in Adelaide (November 17), Sydney (November 19) and Melbourne (November 22).

“While these series are on the horizon, we’re excited for the cricket immediately ahead this summer as our men’s team host England across two highly anticipated Dettol T20I and ODI Series either side of the T20 World Cup.”

Before the Ashes, the men’s side will host Ireland for a Test match at Lord’s, starting on June 1, 2023. The two sides last played a Test at that venue in 2019. England will also play Ireland in three home ODIs – at Headingley, Trent Bridge and Bristol – from September 20 to 26.

“As a player, there’s no doubt that Test cricket is the absolute pinnacle of our sport. We were fortunate to play a Test against England at Lord’s back in 2019 – which was a memorable occasion for players and fans alike – so the news that we will be returning to play at Lord’s next year is very welcome,” Ireland Test skipper Andrew Balbirnie said.

“That match against England in 2019 was the last Test we have played, so we are excited to be returning to play the red-ball game next year. It’s one of four Test matches we are scheduled to play in 2023, which is so important for such a relatively young squad. There is no better place to really learn, develop and test your game as in multi-day cricket,” he added.


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