by Rex Clementine
When Chris Silverwood succeeded Paul Grayson as Essex’s Head Coach in 2016, the English county was in doldrums. They had been relegated to Division Two for a while and there was little hope for the Chelmsford club, half hour’s train journey from London King’s Cross Station. Silverwood with his hands on approach and close rapport with the players turned things around for Essex. A county that didn’t have many stars was promoted to Division One in his first year in charge having won the Division Two title. Twelve months later, things got even better. Essex were top of the table in Division One and went onto win their first County title in 25 years having last won the title under Graham Gooch in 1992. Sri Lanka will be hoping for a similar fairytale under their British coach; help them to come out of their current slide and become a strong force in the sport again.
At the moment, there’s little trust between Sri Lanka’s senior players and the management. Pay cuts, strenuous fitness standards and unclear selection policies have driven the two parties into extremes. In Silverwood, players will find someone whom they can trust. He will make lots of friends, helping players to be their best and his reviews will be honest. Not all coaches are the same. Dav Whatmore and Tom Moody didn’t mince any words and there were lots of shouting around during net sessions. That’s the typical Aussie way. With Silverwood, players will find an approach similar to that of Graham Ford, a father figure who will back them to the hilt.
Some observers of Sri Lankan cricket aren’t too happy with the Silverwood appointment for the obvious reason that he had been just sacked as England coach after their disastrous Ashes campaign down under. They say that being a selector is a thankless job. Being a coach is cut throat business. When you win, everyone wants part of the credit. When you lose, it’s simple, ‘sack the coach’. As John F. Kennedy rightly said, ‘Victory has a thousand fathers. Defeat is an orphan.’
Silverwood’s first task as Sri Lanka Head Coach is to oversee fitness tests of 18 players selected to tour Bangladesh. The test is scheduled for Monday. He’s expected to continue Mickey Arthur’s tough fitness regime. Then the players will leave for Bangladesh in the first week of May for a two match Test series. He’s got a tough seven month schedule as Sri Lanka will host Australia and Pakistan in all format series including four Test matches. There will be a brief break for Silverwood as players will be released for the Lanka Premier League. That will be followed by the Asia Cup at home and the World Cup in Australia followed by the tour of New Zealand.
The national cricket team has faced an uphill task trying to rebuild in the last seven months. Marvan Atapattu, Graham Ford and Chandika Hathurusinghe all had to leave before their term ended as the team failed to turn things around. There was a brief resurgence under Mickey Arthur as he helped a young team develop and unearthed several young talents. Silverwood’s task is to take the team to the next level after Arthur’s impressive rebuilding process. Several young players like Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Pathum Nissanka, Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis have had superb starts to their careers. Some seniors like Dimuth Karunaratne, Dasun Shanaka and Dushmantha Chameera are performing at their peak. There are of course other talents like Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Bhanuka Rajapaksa who have not done justice to their immense talents. It remains to be seen how the new coach puts the pieces in places moving forward. It was said that during Arthur’s tenure, the language barrier was an issue. SLC has addressed that problem by placing Naveed Nawaz as Assistant Coach. We are going to see the best of Sri Lankan side in the next few months.
Gurukula shock Bens, Koththigoda shines for Richmond
Under 17 Division I Cricket Pre-quarter-finals
by Reemus Fernando
Playing on a matting wicket Gurukula shocked St. Benedict’s with a ten wicket win, S. Thomas’ ended Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run, while Richmond, St. Peter’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Sebastian’s had it easy against their rivals in the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament pre-quarter-finals played on Tuesday.
Gurukula delivered the knockout punch when Daham Vimukthi and Tharusha Kodikara grabbed three wickets each to bundle St. Benedict’s out for 71 runs. Gurukula openers Thathsara Eshan and Poorna Kalhara then kept their wickets intact to reach the target in just over ten overs.
In the match played at Karandeniya, Richmond’s Yuri Koththigoda and Pubudu Mihiranga picked up four wickets each to restrict De Mazenod’s to 99 runs and record 99 runs victory. Koththigoda produced remarkable bowling figures (10-6-7-4) giving away just seven runs in his ten overs which included six maidnes.
At Bambalapitiya, the right-arm left-arm spin combination of skipper Lashmika Perera (5/29) and Sasindu Silva helped St. Peter’s restrict Wesley to 119 runs before Nethan Devid scored an unbeaten half century to seal a comfortable seven wickets victory.
Moratu Vidyalaya’s impressive run in the tournament came to an end when S. Thomas’ registered a hard fought victory at Moratuwa. After restricting them to 234 runs Dineth Goonawardena and Kavindu Dias scored unbeaten half centuries to secure a six wicket victory.
Gurukula shock St. Benedict’s
71 all out in 28.2 overs (Nilakshana Nawam 16; Daham Vimukthi 3/18, Tharusha Kodikara 3/20, Thathsara Eshan 2/05)
74 for no loss in 10.2 overs (Thathsara Eshan 39n.o., Poorna Kalhara 28n.o.)
St. Sebastian’s in eight wickets win over St. Anne’s at Moratuwa
102 all out in 35.1 overs (Buddima Nanadasiri 33, Nimantha Jayasundara 20, Navod Fernando 3/27, Jenen De Silva 2/15, Akash Dissanayake 2/26, Rayan Dissanayaka 2/11)
104 for 2 in 20.2 overs (Adesh Almeida 58, Rayan Dissanayaka 39, .o.; Jashmin Jayasundara 2/23)
S. Thomas’ beat Moratu Vidyalaya
234 for 8 in 50 overs (Isuru Fernando 74, Hasindu Senanayaka 35, Deneth Sithumina 24, Ilukshan Silva 23, Rajindu Thilakaratna 2/46, Vihanga Rodrigo 2/47, Kavindu Dias 2/50)
236 for 4 in 48.1 overs (Sadev Soysa 48, Dineth Goonawardena 71n.o., Rajindu Thilakaratne 41, Kavindu Dias 55n.o.)
St. Joseph’s record seven wickets win
at Darley Road
124 all out in 40.3 overs (Eshan Vithanage 53, Osanda Muthugama 17; Dunick Perera 2/15, Maanasa Madubashana 2/26, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09)
125 for 3 in 22.4 overs (Abhishek Jayaweera 20, Sahan Dabare 43, Kenath Liyanage 33n.o.; Chamika Heenatigala 2/28)
Richmond beat De Mazenod by 99 runs at Karandeniya
198 all out in 49.1 overs (Pubudu Mihiranga 34, Thamindu Pradeeptha 31, Charuka Gunasekara 25, Lehan Subasinghe 24, Tinura Abeysekara 22, Malitha Perera 20; Savinu Chanthula 3/47, Nipuna Theekshana 2/05, Kavindu Kaushalya 2/20, Neshan Dias 2/27)
99 all out in 27.1 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 23, Neshan Dias 20; Yuri Koththigoda 4/07, Pubudu Mihiranga 4/26)
St. Peter’s beat Wesley
119 all out in 36.4 overs (Ravindu Sigera 32, Manuth Samarakoon 23, Lashmika Perera 5/29, Sasindu Silva 4/14)
123 for 3 in 30.5 overs (Oween Salgado 37, Nethan Devid 50n.o., Lashmika Perera 18n.o.; Jathon Wieman 2/32)
Navy SC crowned champions of the Invitational Women’s T20 tourney
The Navy Sports Club (Navy SC) won the title of the Sri Lanka Cricket conducted Invitational Women’s T20 League tournament on Monday.
In the final of the tournament held at the Thurstan Ground, Colombo, the Navy SC edged out the Air Force SC by eight runs to clinch the title.
Batting first, the Navy SC scored 121 runs for the loss of six wickets in their quota of 20 overs. For the Navy Umesha Thimeshani top scored with a knock of 30 runs. In reply, the Air Force SC only managed to score 113 runs for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs. In the bowling department, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani took two for 21 and two for 23 respectively for the Navy.
Meanwhile, Madhuri Samuddhika and Sathya Sandeepani of the Navy Sports Club won awards for Women’s Player of the Final and Women’s Player of the Tournament respectively. In addition, Hansima Karunarathne, the skipper of Navy SC, was adjudged the Best Bowler of the tournament.
Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club were also the winners of the women’s division one 50 over cricket tournament organized by SLC.
Isipatana find winning rhythm to take ‘league’ rugby crown
By a Special Sports Correspondent
School rugby this season produced joy, realised expectations and tears for teams as Isipatana College brought the curtains down on the league rugby tournament with a memorable win against Royal College in the decider played on August 14 (Sunday).
Isipatana College, very different from the sides of yesteryear, displayed all the qualities of modern rugby which is spiced with speed, power, and brute size. Skipper and number eight Dahan Nithina showed that rugby is a game for the big boys and rallied his team during the season to finish on top after seven grueling weeks of rugby. The Green Shirts also had small made players, but this Isipatana side-when compared with the other Division 1 sides- was never wanting for size. In positions where players were lacking in size the lads from Havelock Town made up for it with guts, courage and intelligence.
Overall, Isipatana was the side to watch and perhaps was drawn onto a group where competition was the stiffest. Vidyartha and Science in the league stage of the tournament produced some anxious moments for them, but the side came through with collective efforts. Till the final Isipatana’s best performance came when they beat Viyartha up in Kandy.
Another reason why this side slowly became the side to watch was that they improved with each game. Much credit must go to the coaches Saliya Kumara (Head coach), Dhanushka Botheju (Forwards Coach) and Heshan Gomex (Trainer) for the inputs made to the side.
It always looked professional when the Green Shirts were running the ball and there was a knack in almost all these players to create openings for tries. Some of the players who were outstanding in running with the ball and creating scoring opportunities for the team were Rinesh Silva, Wewala Pandith, Skipper Daham Nithina, Sonal Sansoni, Praveen Stephan, Venura Sangeeth, Sooriya Dodangoda, Dinsara De Costa and Naveen Kanishka.
School rugby is played with many support services and Isipatana College too has that support. When a team walks into a stadium with a large contingent it underscores that things are in order. Isipatana like most of the other teams showed their rugby at school is both well nurtured and nourished.
Efforts made to compile this article would not be complete if the mention is not made of Isipatana’s past glories even in capsule form. The Green Shirts first won the schools’ league crown under Chandana Deepthi when the tournament officially commenced in 1985. They had many glorious seasons there onwards and took home the league and also the knock-out titles on many occasions. The last time the lads from Havelock Town won the league crown was in 2016.
Royal too played well and spent all their ‘petrol’ on the field despite knowing that the all-important Brady Shield vs Trinity is to take place in a few days. It’s creditable that all teams hung on till the end and completed their matches in the league given that this is the first year after the pandemic that a school rugby season was played in full.
The other two teams which made it to the Super League Round are Wesley and St. Joseph’s College.
For the record Zahira and D.S Senanayake College playing in the Division 1 Segment B Tournament finished unbeaten and earned a promotion to play in the Segment A Tournament next season.
Mention must be made of Lalith Athulathmudali MV which came on top in Division 2 Group A after clearing their final hurdle against President’s College Maharagama on Sunday. Lalith Athulathmudali MV coached by Ajith Fernando won the match 13-10.
The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association which did well to organize the tournament also received some brickbats from critics for failing to control unruly spectators during matches; on several occasions this season.
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