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Can Dimuth emulate Sanga and Aravinda?

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by Rex Clementine

One reason why Sri Lanka’s Test cricket has not deteriorated as fast as the two white ball formats is their captain Dimuth Karunaratne. With consistent performances and match winning knocks, Dimuth has rescued his team time and again. Despite playing less than a handful of Test matches in 2021, he finished the year as world’s third highest run getter and this year he has been even better having emerged as number six ranked batsman in the world. His efforts have been recognized with Yorkshire offering him a contract. He thus becomes the first Sri Lankan to play for Leeds, where traditions are strictly adhered to than Lord’s.

Yorkshire was the last county to include overseas players. Sachin Tendulkar broke that barrier in 1993. Yorkshire is like the Manchester United of football having won more Championships than any other county. They have got 32 County Championships plus a shared title in 1949.

Many are the Sri Lankans who have played County Cricket. But just two of them have featured in Championship winning teams. Dr. Churchill Gunasekara, the first Sri Lankan to play County Cricket, was part of the Middlesex side that won the double in 1920 and 1921 while Farveez Maharoof 91 years later was part of the Lancashire side that won in 2011.

Every Sri Lankan cricketer has benefited by playing County Cricket. Aravinda de Silva was the first to be drafted in by a County after the country gained Test status. He played for Kent and finished with 1781 runs in 16 games. He averaged 59 with seven hundreds including two double hundreds, His much cherished moment with Kent came in a one-day game when he made a hundred in the Benson and Hedges final at Lord’s against a Lancashire attack spearheaded by Wasim Akram. His efforts opened doors for many other Sri Lankans.

Kumar Sangakkara represented three Counties. He started with Warwickshire, had a stint with Durham and finished with Surrey, whom he represented for three seasons. His last season in south London in 2017 was stunning. Sanga topped the batting charts finishing with 1491 runs in 16 innings at an average of 106 and eight hundreds. That included a record five successive centuries.

County Cricket brings a best out of a player. You are the overseas professional and you are expected to be the key player of the side. Aravinda did it having gone as the replacement for Carl Hooper and so did Sanga having gone to Birmingham in 2007. Both returned as better players when they put on Sri Lanka colours.

In his very first Test match after the Kent stint, Aravinda made a match winning hundred in Faisalabad and Sri Lanka went onto win the series.

Immediately after Warwickshire, Sanga in his next two Tests hit 52, 192, 92 and 152. He was unstoppable.

Aravinda averaged 37 in Tests before Kent and 45 after. Of his 20 Test hundreds, 13 came after County Cricket. We all know that Sanga averaged 57 in Tests. After Warwickshire he in fact averaged 60 in Tests and 24 of his 38 Test hundreds were scored after that.

Dimuth averages 39 in Test cricket as of now. Expect that to go up once he returns from England. There’s hardly a professional atmosphere in our domestic cricket. Players learn what it means to be a professional player by being involved in an atmosphere like in England.

Dimuth came close to signing up a County contract on a few occasions but national commitment or injury saw him missing out. He’s finally got a break with Yorkshire. Better late than never.

North England is not the kind of place you want to live in April and May. It will be bitterly cold with temperature barely touching double digits. At nights, it goes minus. This transition will make a good Test cricketer a great one.



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Joes and HFC win Under-20 basketball titles

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Due to the pandemic, there wasn’t much sporting activities in schools for two years and basketball players showed lot of enthusiasm as their sport was in full swing since April holidays. Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association despite many challenges successfully conducted the All Island Under-20 basketball tournament at Sugathadasa Stadium this week. Girls and boys in ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions competed over a month and there were some thrilling encounters.St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road and Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya cruised to victory in the ‘A’ Division final. While St. Joseph’s beat Royal College in the boys’ final, HFC overcame Mahamaya College, Kandy. Both teams cruised to victory and were hardly troubled throughout the campaign. Interestingly, both teams are coached by the same individuals with Roshan Randima as Head Coach and Shane Daniel as his deputy. Their teams over the last decade or so have come up with consistent performances and have always remained among the top three.

St. Joseph’s took an early 24-09 lead in the first quarter and although Royal contained them in the second quarter conceding just seven points, they themselves could not score big. Both teams scored 16 points each in the third quarter and Royal matched St. Joseph’s skills in the final quarter but the damage done in the first quarter proved to be costly as Joes won by 16 points with the final score being 68-52.Mahamaya scored 14 points compared to HFC’s 16 in the first quarter in the girls’ final but from thereon HFC were unstoppable winning by a comfortable 31 points. The final score was 70-39.

In the boys’ category, St. Joseph’s captain Shehan Fernando was adjudged the Most Valuable Player while Keith Costa also from St. Joseph’s was declared the Best Defensive Player. Royal’s Yuganan Baskaran was named Best Offensive Plyaer. In the girls’ segment, Onela Dunuwille and Minoli Direkze of HFC emerged as Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively. Chithera Samarakoon of Mahamaya was the Best Offensive Player. The tournament was sponsored by Gaja Group. The Group’s CEO Gayath Jayasinghe, a former Sri Lanka basketball player was the Chief Guest.

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Sri Lanka Athletics to seek private sector support to send team for World Junior Championships

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Ambagamuwa Central hurdler Dhanuka Dharshana has bettered the World Junior Championship qualifying standard on several occasions.

Junior Nationals Athletics Championships rescheduled to June 7-10

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Athletics will seek support from the private sector to meet the massive costs involved in sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships which will be held from August 1-6 in Cali, Colombia.The track and field governing body, which met this week to reschedule the Junior National Championship which was postponed due to the curfew imposed on May 9, also discussed ways of finding funds to send all athletes who reach qualifying standards for the World Junior Championships.

Sri Lanka Athletics has been sending all athletes reaching qualifying standards for the World Junior events in recent years. But the massive cost of airfare in the midst of the prevaling economic crisis has made it difficult for the sport’s governing body to bear the full cost involved in sending a strong team.So far nine athletes have reached qualifying standards for the biennial event and there is opportunity for other athletes to reach entry standards for the event when the postponed Junior National Athletics Championship is held from June 7 to 10 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

“There is a massive cost involved in sending athletes for the Cali event. With the increased airfare it will cost around 1.5 million rupees per athlete. If we opt to send only the top two athletes and those who can find funds by their own it will not be fair by the others who reach qualifying standards. Because of that we will seek private sector support to send the full team,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island on Friday.

Earlier there were plans to send a pruned down team but a couple of athletes have obtained private sponsorships for their travel compelling athletics officials to find sponsorships for others as well.Of the nine athletes who have reached qualifying standards so far, four are from three schools in Colombo.  At least one athlete from outstations and an athlete from a school in Colombo have received the support of sponsors to meet their expenses during the meet.

“We will request leading private sector firms to support junior athletes. We will also seek the support of friendly sports federations like Sri Lanka Cricket to support us at this difficult moment,” said the official.

Tharushi Karunaratne (800m, 400m), Jayeshi Uththara (400m) and Amesha Hettiarachchi (400m hurdles) in the girls’ category and Sithum Jayasundara (400m), Dhanuka Dharshana (400m hurdles), Kaveesha Bandara (110m hurdles), Pasindu Malshan (triple jump), Hirusha Hashen (long jump) and Rumesh Tharanga  (javelin throw) in the boys’ category are the athletes who have reached qualifying standards for the Cali event. Incidentally, Tharushi Karunaratne and Sithum Jayasundara will be taking part in their second consecutive World Junior Championships after having represented the country at the last edition in Nairobi. Sri Lanka did well to reach the final in the mix relay in Nairobi where they were ranked fifth with a time of 3:26.39 secs.

Junior National Championships from June 7 to 10

The Junior National Athletics Championship which was postponed after the morning session on May 9 will commence from where it stopped on June 7. According to athletics officials the events which could not be completed on May 9 will be held on June 7 and there will not be any changes to the schedule of the next three days.

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Shoriful ruled out of SL Tests with wrist injury

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Bangladesh’s injury woes continue as pace bowler Shoriful Islam has now been ruled out of the remainder of the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka due to a wrist injury. Shoriful is the latest addition to the hosts’ injury list as they earlier lost Taskin Ahmed (shoulder) and Mehedy Hasan (finger).

“Shoriful Islam had a contusion of the right hand while batting. After the fourth day’s play an X-ray was carried out which has revealed a fracture on the base of the 5th metacarpal bone,” physio Bayjedul Islam said in a statement on Thursday.

“Such injuries tend to take around three weeks to heal followed by a couple of week’s rehab. He will not be available to play for four to five weeks.”

Shoriful was retired out on Day 4 after pacer Kasun Rajitha’s short delivery hit him on the gloves. Bangladesh were forced to end their innings at 465 following his injury.

Cricbuzz has learnt that Shoriful is unlikely to be available for the Test series against West Indies as well. Bangladesh will leave on June 6 to take part in the full fledged tour of West Indies, comprising two Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is.

Meanwhile, the BCB has retained the same squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka that will begin on May 23. The board opted to not name a replacement for Shoriful since they have a big squad to pick from.

“We did not take any replacement for Shoriful as we have got a big squad in hand,” BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz. ‘’We have to see fitness of Hasan Mahmud (who was in discussion as a possible replacement of Shoriful) and though we are not considering him in this series, if he is fit we might pick him for the Bangladesh ‘A’ team tour of West Indies.”

Squad:

Mominul Haque (C), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Litton Kumar Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Nayeem Hasan, Taijul Islam, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Quazi Nurul Hasan Sohan, Musaddek Hossain, Ebadot Hossain Chowdhury, Shohidul Islam, Rezaur Rahman Raja.

( Cricbuzz)

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