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.
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*.
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
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
Aruna, Dilshi, Parami among athletes to benefit from World Athletics grant
Sri Lanka Athletics to receive US$ 40,000.00 grant from World Athletics
by Reemus Fernando
Several Asian Junior Athletics Championship medallists are among the top track and field athletes who will benefit from a World Athletics grant, which Sri Lanka Athletics (SLA) is set to receive shortly.
Sri Lanka Athletics is likely to receive the first half of a grant of US$ 40,000.00 from the world governing body soon, for its youth oriented development plan it has prepared targeting international achievements during the next two years.
“Sri Lanka Athletics proposed a development project targeting the next two years to ‘World Athletics’ and have received their support to spearhead the program. We will be receiving the first half of the funds shortly,” a senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics told The Island.
In the development plan, SLA identified the Women’s steeplechase, Men’s and Women’s 4×400 meter relays and the mixed relay as future medal winning disciplines
Apart from the Tokyo Olympics (2021) Sri Lanka are set to participate at several international events within the next two years. The country has the potential to strive for medals at three major international events namely the 2021 Asian Athletics Championship in Hangzhou, China the Asian Games in the same city in 2022 and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The World Athletics grant will help the local governing body to support its athletes financially to meet their nutritional needs and invest in training gear. The grant will also help them during competitions and the governing body to conduct training camps for the selected athletes through to 2022.
The local governing body in its plan had given priority to athletes who excelled at the Asian Junior Athletics Championship in 2018.
Asian Junior Athletics Championship medallist and 400 meters Championship record holder Aruna Dharshana and Youth Olympic medallist Parami Wasanthi are on top of the list of beneficiaries Sri Lanka Athletics has identified.
Dharshana clocked a record setting 45.79 seconds to win the gold medal at the Junior Asian event in Gifu, Japan in 2018. He has been dominating the senior Men’s event ever since and the silver medalist of the 2018 event, Pasindu Kodikara too is among the athletes picked. St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa sprinter Navishka Sandesh who won the silver medal at the Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Hongkong last year is the other 400 meters specialist.
Dilshi Kumarasinghe, the golden girl of the last South Asian Games, was also a winner at the last Asian Junior event. The former Ratnayake Central athlete clinched the silver in the Women’s 400 meters and clocked a personal best of 2:04.53 seconds to settle for bronze in the 800 meters. She also won a bronze in the 4×400 meters.
Parami Wasanthi who won the gold medal in the Women’s 3,000 meters Steeplechase in Hongkong and followed it up with the bronze at the Youth Olympics together with her training partner Ashmika Herath are in the development program as steeplechase specialists.
Among the athletes who have already been selected, the women’s 400 meters specialist Nadeesha Ramanayake is the only one who is not in that age category. She was part of the team that established a new Sri Lanka record in the Women’s 4×400 meters at the Asian Athletics Championship in Doha in 2019.
The senior official of Sri Lanka Athletics said that they were preparing to expand that team after reviewing the strengths of athletes at the National Trial. The National Trial and all track and field events scheduled for the last few months of the year were canceled or postponed due to the outbreak of Covid 19.
Tokyo Cement Group renews Foundation of Goodness partnership
Tokyo Cement Group pledged its support to the Foundation of Goodness for another year, to extend their multi-prongged activities aimed at rural cricket development. 2020 marks the fifth year of partnership between the two organizations, who have united to unearth talented young cricketers from rural Sri Lanka.
The Company’s long-standing partnership with the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) established cricket training facilities, that included upgrading two school grounds in Hikkaduwa and Seenigama, to undergo formal cricket training. Hikkaduwa Sri Sumangala MCC Lords and Seenigama Sri Wimala Buddhi Surrey Oval, are the two cricket grounds that are managed and operated by FoG under the patronage of Tokyo Cement Group, where regular training sessions are held. Budding school cricketers in the area are welcomed to enroll themselves for regular Cricket Coaching Camps conducted free of charge by reputed coaches at the two training centers, that have indoor and outdoor practice nets.
Founded on the vision of Kushil Gunasekera, Founder/Chief Trustee of the Foundation of Goodness, the Tokyo Cement Group’s partnership intends to make a positive impact on the lives of talented young cricketers from remote backgrounds who have very limited access to quality training facilities to pursue their dreams. Anura de Silva, Director of Sports at the Foundation of Goodness heads the Cricket Academy together with a pool of coaches and qualified physical trainers. The special monthly training sessions are conducted by renowned cricket coach Hemantha Devapriya, a former Head Coach of Sri Lanka’s National Ladies’ Cricket Team, with his team of cricket coaches. From time to time, the Academy gets the service of famed local and international cricket stars who get involved in the program on a voluntary basis.
Since inception, the Academy has so far trained over 1,100 promising young cricketers from nearly 20 regional schools in the area. The program also conducts an elite coaching camp for star performers, where they get to hone their innate talents under specialized supervision. The Southern Coaching Camps produced several top-notch National U19 Players who now represent various Division I clubs in the country. In August 2017, the partnership extended the Cricket Coaching Camps to the North and East, conducting programs in Jaffna, Killinochchi, Oddusuddan, Mankulam, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, Batticaloa, Kalmunai and Ampara, to unearth young cricketing sensations.
Speaking on the impact the Cricket Academy makes on the lives of young school boys and girls, Anura De Silva pointed out that, having access to top quality training facilities under the wings of world class coaching expertise is itself a great contribution to uplift the future of Sri Lankan cricket. He also said the success of the Academy lies in allowing these novices to maintain and polish up their natural style in either bowling, batting or fielding, so that they grow in confidence, as much as in their skill while undergoing the coaching program.
The number of cricketers who have risen from District / Provincial level to various National-level teams speak volumes for the Academy’s ability to unearth unique cricketing talent. Among them is Navod Paranavithana who is the Sri Lanka U-19 World Cup opener and captain of the Mahinda College Cricket Team, Galle, who shattered the batting records by becoming the first schoolboy to score a quadruple century in a school match. Navod joined the Cricket Academy at U-13 level and is a recipient of a MCC Cricket scholarship offered through The Foundation of Goodness. Kavisha Dilhari is another 17-year-old cricketing prodigy hailing from the Academy, who created the record as the youngest school girl cricketer to score a triple century at school level and also became the youngest person to represent Sri Lanka as part of the National Ladies Cricket Team. Furthermore, four young cricketers from the Seenigama Ladies Cricket Squad were selected to play for Sri Lanka at the Women’s Cricket World Cup 2020 in Australia.
With the extension of the partnership this year, Tokyo Cement Group and the Foundation of Goodness will continue the training sessions that gives schoolboy and schoolgirl cricketers the chance to hone their dormant skills. During this year, FoG has completed 12 coaching camps in the South, maintaining the training momentum of the players while looking after the facilities in their top condition, despite the many disruptions that occurred. Anura and his team of FoG coaches, together with Hemantha Devapriya and his team of coaches remain fully committed to this far-reaching initiative with the patronage of Tokyo Cement Group, whose objective is to provide the youth new opportunities to polish up their talent in the game of cricket. The Foundation of Goodness conducts a wide range of holistic development programs aimed at bridging the urban rural gap, that touch the lives of over 31,500 beneficiaries annually, free of cost, from over 400 villages island-wide. The two organizations united their forces in this endeavor with the shared objective of creating foundations for the future generations to become well-rounded leaders.
Plight of school coaches Some working as pump attendants
by Reemus Fernando
His love for the game of cricket forced Aman Uditha to take up one of the toughest coaching assignments at Vijayaba National School, Hungama (Hambantota District), a place that does not have a strong cricket culture to attract highly qualified coaches. The school which has produced a pace bowler in the Sri Lanka Under-19 team in recent times is one of the many lower division schools struggling to pay their coaches after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coaches in almost all the Division III and a majority of Division II cricket playing schools and some Division I schools are paid by the School Development Societies (SDS), which largely rely on contributions from parents. Schools have found it difficult to sustain these funds due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Many such schools have either totally stopped paying their coaches or have reduced their salaries by big margins, forcing them to look elsewhere for a living. Unlike well-established schools, those in the lower divisions depend on a single coach to train all age group teams in the school. Uditha is responsible for coaching the Under-13, 15 and 17 teams of Vijayaba National School.
Affairs in some of the premier Division I cricket playing schools too have fallen to the same level as the underprivileged schools thanks to the pandemic. Many coaches, contacted comment, lamented about the unprecedented salary cuts they had been compelled to bear with in the recent months.
Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association with the help of Sri Lanka Cricket recently granted some concessions to coaches affected by the pandemic but it is just a short-term measure, and the coaches continue to suffer.
“I have been a cricket coach for years. I do not have experience in any other field and at this age, I cannot train myself for any other job; I am in a dilemma,” a level I coach of a Big Match playing school from the suburbs of Colombo told The Island. The coach of the premier cricket playing school has been training all age group teams (U13, 15, 17 and 19). His salary was first reduced by 25% due to the pandemic; it has been reduced by 50% during the recent months.
A group of coaches mentioned that some of their colleagues from underprivileged schools had been compelled to work at filling stations to keep home fires burning.
Meanwhile, some coaches whose contracts were terminated following the first wave of the pandemic are looking forward to securing new contracts elsewhere for the new season. But a recent Ministry of Education circular, which canceled all sports competitions in schools, has shattered their hopes.
However, a few coaches have been lucky. All coaches contracted by S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia continue to receive their full remuneration. The 70 plus coaching staff, training young Thomian sportsmen in 27 sports, are lucky while hundreds of their counterparts, employed by public and private schools are experiencing severe hardships.
A senior sports administrator of S. Thomas’ College told The Island: “We have paid all coaches their full salaries though we had to cancel training following Ministry of Education directives. We are paying them through the budget allocated in December,”
Uditha comes from the same district Suranga Lakmal, who was lucky to find a place in the Richmond College team before earning a place in the Sri Lanka team. Uditha found a place for his medium pace at Devananda College, Ambalangoda before taking up coaching. It is coaches like Uditha who spot talent like that of Lakmal for Sri Lanka Cricket. Sri Lanka Cricket, which is the richest sports body of the country and the Ministry of Education, should, therefore, look into the grievances of coaches and redress them.
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