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CCC, Negombo CC record wins as domestic cricket resumes in Sri Lanka

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The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Premier League Tier A tournament 2019/20 resumed on the 10th of August after a hiatus of almost five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament which was postponed at the end of the group stage in March 2020, saw the top 8 teams progressing to the super 8s while the other six teams were left to battle it out in the Plate Championship.

The current table toppers of the Super 8s (CCC) and Plate Championship (Negombo CC) recorded the only two wins of the 7 matches that concluded during the week respectively, with some of the top national players turning out for their respective clubs with no national cricket duties.

Super 8s

Angelo Mathews made a grand return to domestic cricket with an unbeaten 173* which was the highest score of the round, but Colts CC had to be satisfied with a first-innings victory over Saracens SC. Santhush Gunathilake also hit a century for Colts, following on from a ton in his previous game before the break against Negombo CC.

Centuries from Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Udara secured first-innings points for NCC, before former Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal lit up the game with a 2nd innings century for the soldiers as the match ended in a tame draw at the SSC ground in Colombo. Thulina Dilshan also made an unbeaten century in the Army 2nd Innings, but it was left arm seamer Dilesh Gunaratne who ended with 7 wickets in the match for NCC who stole the limelight on a familiar batting paradise at the SSC.

CCC’s title defence was hardly threatened as Ragama CC succumbed to an innings and 125 runs defeat at the hands of the table toppers in their game that concluded in Katunayake. Kusal Mendis was the star with the bat for the winners top scoring with 139 before Malinda Pushpakumara went about his business to end with 8 wickets in the match. CCC are well ahead in the title race with NCC almost 18 points behind them in second place.

Kamindu Mendis’ all-round efforts was the highlight of the drawn game between BRC and Chilaw Marians that concluded at the CCC grounds. Mendis hit an unbeaten 150* to go along with four wickets with the ball in BRC’s 2nd innings. BRC managed to hang in for 80 overs to save the match, with Dilshan de Soysa playing out of his skin to remain unbeaten on 105*.

Brief Scores:

Colts CC vs Saracens SC

Colombo Colts Cricket Club – 408/6d (128.2) Anjelo Mathews 173*, Santhush Gunathilaka 100, Avishka Fernando 66, Sadeera Samarawickrama 41, Kasun Rajitha 3/85, Promod Maduwantha 2/72

Saracens Sports Club – 182 (81.2) Gamindu Kanishka 45, Saliya Saman 38, Navindu Vithanage 32, Milinda Siriwardana 27, Nisala Tharaka 3/34, Dilshan Madushanka 2/37, Prabath Jayasuriya 2/41 & F/O 106/3 (40) Navindu Vithanage 34*, Sithara Gimhan 27, Gamindu Kanishka 23, Akila Dananjaya 2/19

Army SC vs NCC

Army Cricket Club 269 – (84.1) Janith Silva 54, Asela Gunaratne 50, Himasha Liyanage 46, Mahesh Kumara 41, Dilesh Gunarathna 5/42, Chathuranga De Silva 3/90 & 255/3 (60) Dinesh Chandimal 129, Thulina Dilshan 116*, Dilesh Gunarathna 2/13

Nondescripts Cricket Club – 417/7d (88) Upul Tharanga 121, Lahiru Udara 105, Mahela Udawatte 77*, Chamika Karunarathna 30*, Angelo Perera 29, Sahan Arachchige 25, Seekkuge Prasanna 3/91

CCC vs Ragama CC

Colombo Cricket Club – 499/7d (117) Kusal Mendis 139, Minod Bhanuka 88, Wanindu Hasaranga 88, Ashan Priyanjan 58, Lahiru Madushanka 57*, Sonal Dinusha 29, Binura Fernando 4/72

Ragama Cricket Club – 132 (41.2) Janith Liyanage 43*, Roshen Silva 27, Malinda Pushpakumara 4/35, Lahiru Madushanka 2/16, Wanindu Hasaranga 2/36 & F/O 242 (58.3) Janith Liyanage 50*, Roshen Silva 41, Ishan Jayaratne 35, Binura Fernando 29, Nishan Madushka 29, Saminda Fernando 23, Malinda Pushpakumara 4/55, Ashan Priyanjan 2/64, Wanindu Hasaranga 2/66

Chilaw Marians CC vs BRC

Chilaw Marians Cricket Club – 195 (47.2) Oshada Fernando 42, Pulina Tharanga 40, Kasun Vidura 38, Thikshila De Silva 35, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 3/26, Hashen Ramanayake 3/43, Duvindu Tillakaratne 3/54 & 385/8d (89.2) Kamindu Mendis 150*, Kasun Vidura 87, Thikshila De Silva 41, Shehan Jayasuriya 35, Oshada Fernando 30, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 3/40, Duvindu Tillakaratne 2/71

Burgher Recreation Club – 87 (34.2) Deshan Dias 24, Asitha Fernando 4/42, Nimesh Vimukthi 3/06, Thikshila De Silva 3/13 & 231/8 (80) Dilshan De Soysa 105*, Deshan Dias 28, Shanuka Dulaj 25, Hashen Ramanayake 20, Kamindu Mendis 4/43, Pulina Tharanga 2/32, Thikshila De Silva 2/23

Plate Championship

Negombo CC came-from-behind to record a thrilling five wicket win over Lankan CC who secured a vital 32 run 1st innings lead earlier in the match. While young right arm off-spinner Lakshitha Rasanjana captured five wickets in the first innings for Negombo, it was veteran left arm tweaker Upul Indrasiri who did the damage in  the second innings with a match winning five wicket haul. Lankan CC skipper Chanaka Ruwansiri made 124 in his teams’ 1st innings, but a 2nd innings collapse meant Lankan CC could not drive home the advantage. The win also put Negombo on top of the Plate Championship with Tamil Union not too far behind with two more rounds of cricket remaining.

Badureliya SC held on to a nervy draw, as they finished their 2nd innings on 120/9 in pursuit of 497 set by Moors SC, who managed to dominate most of the game. Fast bowler Kavishka Anjula was the star for Moors as he captured 11 wickets in the match at the Colts ground in Colombo.

SSC’s torrid season continued as they were beaten by Tamil Union CAC on first-innings at the NCC ground, in Colombo. Sri Lanka seamer Suranga Lakmal’s 1st innings four-wicket burst set the game up for Tamil Union, before Ranmith Jayasena top scored with 82 runs.

Lankan CC vs Negombo CC

Lankan Cricket Club – 270 (68.2) Chanaka Ruwansiri 124, Lahiru Dilshan 43, Dunith Wellalage 37, Lakshitha Rasanjana 5/85, Upul Indrasiri 3/79 & 111 (50.3) Risith Upamal 36, Chanaka Ruwansiri 30, Kasun Abeyrathne 20, Upul Indrasiri 5/34, Roshen Fernando 3/29

Negombo Cricket Club – 238 (69.2) Madawa Warnapura 64, Roscoe Thattil 63, Ashen Silva 53, Dunith Wellalage 3/66, Geeth Kumara 2/33, Chanaka Ruwansiri 2/45 & 147/5 (36.5) Roscoe Thattil 38* Madawa Warnapura 33*, Pasindu Lakshanka 29, Dilshan Munaweera 25, Dunith Wellalage 3/60

Moors SC vs Baduraliya SC

Moors Sports Club – 340 (100.2) Ayana Siriwardhana 83, Adeesha Thilanchana 53, Dinuka Dilshan 46, Kavishka Anjula 42, Ramesh Mendis 40, Nipun Karunanayake 27, Anuk Fernando 27, Lahiru Samarakoon 5/86, Dushan Hemantha 2/57, Buddika Sanjeewa 2/75 & 305/6d (69.1) Ramesh Mendis 61, Sachithra Serasinghe 60, Nipun Karunanayake 58, Mohammed Shamaaz 48, Pabasara Waduge 36, Adeesha Thilanchana 28*, Lahiru Samarakoon 2/33

Badureliya Cricket Club – 149 (45.5) Salinda Ushan 67, Dushan Hemantha 25, Dunith Jayatunga 22, Kavishka Anjula 5/39, Sachithra Serasinghe 3/12, Ramesh Mendis 2/37 & 120/9 (40) Dushan Hemantha 43, Salinda Ushan 23, Kavishka Anjula 6/35, Praveen Jayawickrama 3/43

SSC vs Tamil Union CAC

Sinhalese Sports Club – 254 (77.5) Sachithra Senanayake 81, Akash Senaratne 37, Sandun Weerakkody 35, Dasun Shanaka 35, Charith Asalanka 24, Dhammika Prasad 21, Suranga Lakmal 4/36, Isuru Udana 2/43, Pramod Madushan 2/53 & 271/5 (63) Charith Asalanka 94, Sandun Weerakkody 68, Sammu Ashan 37, Dasun Shanaka 30, Krishan Sanjula 20*, Maduka Liyanapathiranage 2/51

Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club – 349 (98)Ranmith Jayasena 82, Tharanga Paranavitana 71, Dhananjaya De Silva 53, Dhakshitha Fernando 49, Yohan Mendis 31, Maduka Liyanapathiranage 25, Jeffrey Vandersay 4/91, Sachithra Senanayake 3/63, Dhammika Prasad 2/37

 

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Former Under-19 coach Roger Wijesuriya calls for two junior coaches

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Roger Wijesuriya coached the Under-19 team for the 2008 and 2016 Youth World Cups.

by Reemus Fernando

Former Sri Lanka cricketer and ex national Under-19 coach Roger Wijesuriya believes that a long term training plan, with two coaches looking after the Under-19 and Under-17 squads right throughout will be the key to success at ICC Youth World Cup.

Sri Lanka is the only Test playing nation in the South Asian region, apart from Afghanistan to have not won the coveted global youth title since the tournament was introduced in 1988. The closest the country came to the title was when they reached the final against India in Colombo in 2000.

The country was eliminated from the first round at the Youth World Cup held early this year. In the first round they suffered defeats against India and New Zealand. Their only win was against minnows Japan. They reached the Plate final scoring wins against Scotland and Nigeria but were defeated by England in the final. The country does not have an Under-19 national coach at the moment and there had been no training nor had there been an Under-19 squad selected this year.

“There is a tendency to rest for months after the ICC Youth World Cup. That will not help. Only a long term plan can. We should have two coaches for the Youth teams. We must have an Under-19 coach who will solely concentrate on preparing the squad for two years for the World Cup. We must also have an Under-17 national coach who will groom a larger squad with probable players, targeting the next World Cup,” said Wijesuriya in an interview with The Island. Roger Wijesuriya was with Sri Lanka Cricket as a coach for ten years and was the Under-19 coach for two Youth World Cups in 2008 and 2016. Sri Lanka Youth team reached the semi final in 2016.

“Teams for the youth squads can be selected after the Provincial tournament. Even at Under-15 level, Provincial squads can be selected and be trained by specialist coaches. Sri Lanka has enough qualified coaches who can be specialist bowling, fielding and batting coaches at these centres. There is an ongoing Sri Lanka Cricket pilot project in the Central Province. That should be introduced at other places,” said the veteran coach.

Wijesuriya said that the players selected in the Under-19 national pool should be allowed to play for their schools during the first year but should continue with the national coach during the last eight months before the World Cup.

He also pointed out the importance of exposing the Under-19 players to tough competitions. “The Under-19 team should play in the SLC’s Under-23 tournament and Mercantile ‘A’ and ‘B’ Division tournaments. It will be beneficial for them to play in the Premier Limited-Over Club tournament as well. Playing against the Emerging team, is another option. In between, they will also get five to six foreign tours. When it is difficult to get tours against youth national teams there are other options. Even playing against regional teams in India, country teams in England or Australia will definitely benefit the Sri Lanka Under-19 team.”

“For players to get accustomed to playing long innings the Under-15 and Under-17 players should compete in the innings format in matches of two to three day duration.”

Wijesuriya also emphasised on the importance of the continuity of the coaching programmes even after the Under-19 level.

“The training process should continue even after the Under-19 World Cup. Those who are doing well should be promoted to the Emerging squad where they get the opportunity to reach the next level.”

Wijesuriya said that blaming the schools structure was of no use. It’s time to take the baton from the schools and continue the journey.

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Schools cricket’s age limit change from Under-19 to 20 just not numbers

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Will a change of age limit benefit cricketers aspiring to represent the country at the ICC Youth World Cup where Sri Lanka is the only Test playing nation in the South Asian region to have not tasted victory in this more than three decades old tournament.

by Reemus Fernando

Schools cricket has been in limbo for more than six months now due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Though there had been no action discussions were underway to find means of improving standards. One of the suggestions received by an eminent panel consisting of former national cricketers is to change the age limit of the premier schools cricket tournament from Under-19 to Under-20. When some school sports, including rugby and track and field have Under-20 as their highest age group then why not cricket? Will a change of age limit benefit cricketers aspiring to represent the country at the ICC Youth World Cup where Sri Lanka is the only Test playing nation in the South Asian region to have not tasted victory in this more than three decades old tournament.

“There is something wrong in our system. Former Sri Lanka Under-19 coach Naveed Nawaz could guide Bangladesh to Youth World Cup victory. It was something he could not do with a team here. You have to seriously take note of our Under-19 cricket structure. An age limit change will help our young cricketers get mature. It will also help reduce the gap between the Under-23 tournament conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket and the highest age group tournament of the schools association,” says Dinesh Kumarasinghe, the head of Sports of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. Kumarasinghe has been involved in schools cricket as a coach for nearly three decades now.

The suggestion to change the age limit is learnt to have come from influential schools cricket coaches who are eager to make amends for dropping standards.

It is not the first time that such a change had been suggested. Four years ago the Ministry of Education changed the age limit only to withdraw the circular within months for reasons best known to them.

The last time the tournament had been played as an Under-20 tournament was nearly one and a half decade ago. It is widely believed in schools cricket circles that the change (to Under-20) was to facilitate a politico’s son to captain his alma mater. That Under-20 rule lasted only a year and the tournament reverted to Under-19.

“The suggestion to increase the age limit to Under-20 had been opposed vehemently at SLSCA meetings on many previous occasions due to the administrative difficulties and problems relating to maintaining discipline,” a former official of the SLSCA says.

Currently the Under-19 tournament is played by cricketers who are not over the age of 20 on September 1 of the concluding year of the tournament. Unlike tournaments of other sports cricket’s highest age group tournament had been played for decades from September to April.

“Though the tournament is called Under-19, we have players over the age of 19 when the tournament concludes in April. It is actually an Under-20 tournament already. Why do you need to further extend it,” a former official of the SLSCA questions.

If not for the Covid 19 pandemic the 2020/21 Under-19 tournament would have commenced by now with players born after September 1, 2001 being eligible to compete. Which means some players would be already 19 plus when the tournament starts.

Those who are pushing for the change argue that by extending the age limit (from September 1 to April 1) more players, who are still in school would be eligible to compete.

When contacted, Thilak Waththuhewa, the president of the SLSCA said that the proposal to extend the age limit will soon be discussed at the SLSCA Executive Committee meeting and the decision will be known sooner rather than later.

A former official who had served at the SLSCA when the age limit was extended to Under-20 one and half decades ago said that a number of schools found it difficult to address discipline issues that year. “We received complaints against players who had already found employment at private firms still playing for schools,” says the former official.

However, this time the decision to change the age limit has been put forward for discussion and a knowledgeable panel of former cricketers are considering the pros and cons. Enthusiasts believe that the decision would be taken with the best interest of country’s cricket in mind.

It should be noted here that the ICC’s Under-19 age limit date for the Youth World Cup is also compatible with Sri Lanka’s schools tournament age limit date of September 1.

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13 year old Sandamini, Asian Youth medallist Isuru best athletes at Kalutara

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Shihara Sandamini Silva and Isuru Kaushalya Abeywardena were adjudged the best athlete of the Kalutara District Inter Division Championship held at Bandaragama.

National Sports Festival- District Championships

by Reemus Fernando

The 13-year-old long jumper Shihara Sandamini Silva and Asian Youth medallist Isuru Kaushalya Abeywardena won the best athlete titles of the Kalutara District Inter Division Athletics Championship of the National Sports Festival concluded at Bandaragama on Sunday.

The two young athletes who have already excelled at All Island Schools championships won the coveted titles against a host of senior athletes.

The Good Shepherd Convent, Panadura athlete came almost close to matching her personal best with a feat of 5.20 metres in the women’s long jump. The athlete trained by veteran coach Prasanna Perera, has a personal best of 5.24 metres achieved at the same ground last year.

Sandamini, hogged the limelight at schools national level when she established the Under-12 long jump record in 2018. Yesterday, instead of competing in the Under-16 age category, Sandamini opted for the Open category and competing against the seniors produced the best jump which was also adjudged the best performance of the meet.

Incidentally, the Under-16 age category event was won by Harini Adithya also from Good Shepherd Convent.

Isuru Kaushalya who won the medley relay silver medal at the Asian Youth Athletics Championship in 2019 lived up to his reputation winning both the 200 metres and the 400 metres. Kaushalya, who was nursing an injury towards the latter part of 2019, was in sublime form producing a stunning 22.00 seconds performance to win the 200 metres on Saturday. The athlete trained by D.R. Munasinghe backed up his feat with another notable 50.5 seconds performance to win the 400 metres yesterday.

“I am looking forward to reach 47.6 seconds before the end of this year,” Kaushalya told The Island after the victory.

Kalushalya edged out senior athlete Dinusha Deshan to the second place to win the 400 metres. Pasindu Malshan who was placed third in the 400 metres, compensated for the defeat winning the 100 metres. The St. Peter’s College sprinter clocked 11.4 seconds to win on a wet track.

The men’s 800 metres was won by Mithila Viraj who beat training partner Pasindu Munasinghe to the second place. Later the duo teamed up with Isuru Nethsara and Isuru Lakshan to win the open men’s 4×400 metres relay for the Beruwala Division.

In the women’s 400 metres Githmi Sanjana won gold for Beruwala, while Ishin Praveesha from Kalutara Division won the 100 metres dash. K.M. Buddhika won the 200 metres sprint.

Kalutara Division were the winners of the District Championship.

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