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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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Sebs’ cricket stalwart Cooray retires after more than three decades of service

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by Reemus Fernando

Franklyn Cooray, the former Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association official, retired as the Master in Charge of Cricket of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa after completing more than three and half decades of yeoman service recently. Franklyn Cooray who was popular in cricket circles as Frank Cooray, was the longest serving team official at the time of his retirement. During his 37 year association with schools cricket, Cooray witnessed the evolution of First XI cricket from mere Traditional matches to present day tournaments of varying divisions and was involved in St. Sebastian’s cricket as a coach and Master in Charge guiding the destiny of many future national cricketers.

Cooray played First XI cricket for St. Sebastian’s from 1962 to 1966 and was among the very few Sebs cricketers of his era to have tasted Big Match success. He captained all age group teams of St. Sebastian’s. After leaving school he worked at the Irrigation Department as a Senior Technical Officer and played in the Government Services ‘A’ Division Cricket tournament until making a premature retirement in 1983.

He was entrusted with the responsibility of training cricketers of St. Sebastian’s in 1984 by Rev. Bro. Nimal Gurusinghe, when coaching was voluntary. Three years later Cooray was included in the tutorial staff by Rev. Bro. Granville Perera. He was the coach cum Master in Charge of St. Sebastian’s from 1987 to 1994 and held the latter position until his retirement this year.

During his tenure as a coach, Cooray provided guidance at different levels to several Sebs who later became household names. Of them Dulip Mendis, Roger Wijesuriya, Susil Fernando, Romesh Kaluwitharana and Sajeewa de Silva went on to play Test cricket. “Kaluwitharana was coached by Brother Gurusinghe before he came under my supervision at senior level,” Cooray recalled in an interview with The Island.

Cooray was the Master in Charge of Cricket when the likes of Prasanna Jayawardena, Dinusha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Amila Aponso, Avishka Fernando and Oshada Fernando learnt their ABC of cricket at St. Sebastian’s.

While being the MIC, Cooray was also entrusted with the responsibility of the curator after a turf wicket was laid at the St. Sebastian’s ground in 1990.

He was selected to SLSCA Executive Committee in 1988 and a year later became the Under-19 tournament secretary, a position he held until 2006. He was among the leading officials of SLSCA who were instrumental in introducing the two-day league tournament and the Under-19 tournament structure with three Divisions. As of late it has undergone many changes.

However he was against introducing the points system that determined winners on first innings points. “That system would promote the culture of playing for trophies. I never encouraged the point system for first innings wins. We gave points only for outright victories. During our time we hardly batted after tea. We would try to score as much as possible in the morning and declared and get the opposition to bat in the afternoon. That way we would try to win outright. That was lost after the points system was introduced,” opined Cooray.

Cooray also lamented the absence of natural stroke play among present day cricketers. “Players going for their natural strokes is something that we are missing greatly these days. You must encourage batsmen to go for their natural strokes,” said Cooray.

He was the Under-19 tournament secretary of the SLSCA at a time when computers were yet be utilized for calculation of points and to make points tables of the league tournaments. Yet as schools cricket reporters would recall he was readily available with a near accurate points table of the tournament at the end of every week during the schools cricket season.

Apart from holding the Under-19 tournament secretary position, Cooray also held the junior national coach position briefly. He was the coach of the Sri Lanka Under-15 side that toured England for the Under-15 Lombard World Challenge.

His contribution to cricket was recognized by the International Cricket Council in 2009 when he was presented with a medal during its Centenary Medals Presentation for Volunteers.

As he steps in to retirement with loads of fond memories from cricket, Cooray thanked former administrators of St. Sebastian’s Rev. Bro. Nimal Gurusinghe and Rev. Bro. Granville Perera, late Rev. Fr. Bonnie Fernandopulle who made it possible for him to take up coaching and cricket administration and coaches including Kanishka Perera who helped during his tenure.

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Mendis and Babar; careers that have taken different routes

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by Rex Clementine

During the 2018 Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi, a group of us Sri Lankan journalists were discussing how good Babar Azam was. Former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis, who was one of the commentators was behind us. He heard the conversation and interrupted us. ‘You guys have no idea what talent is. If you want to look at real talent and pure class just take a look at that guy,’ he said so pointing his finger at the Sri Lankan team. They were warming up and Kusal Mendis was getting some throw downs.  

Both Kusal and Babar are 26. But the Pakistani has gone places. He is Pakistan’s captain in all three formats. In official ICC Rankings, he is world’s number one ranked batsman in ODI cricket. In Tests, he is in exalted company alongside the likes of Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Marnus Labuschagne at number six while in T-20 cricket he is ranked third.

Just two days ago Babar produced a stunning batting display at Centurion, one of the quickest wickets in the world, as Pakistan chased down a stiff target of 204 with two overs to spare. Babar’s 122 came off just 59 balls at a stunning Strike Rate of 206.

Where is Mendis while all these happened? Axed from the side after his four ducks in a row in January, he has been overlooked for the home series against Bangladesh as he has not done anything significant to merit a place.

From humble beginnings, Mendis became a celebrated sportsman overnight after his stunning 176 against a quality Australian attack spearheaded by Mitchell Starc. But soon anger and frustration replaced that admiration following his hit and run at Moratuwa that killed an innocent man on his way to work.

Mendis’ family and his agent did all within their means to bury the truth. That Mendis was driving on the wrong direction, did not care to take the injured to the hospital and surrendered to Police several hours after the incident were all hushed up. Police ensured that Mendis got bail in less hours than the time it takes Bandula Gunawardene to reverse a gazette.

The media kept the pressure up asking Mendis to behave. At this point, Mendis’ family reached out to the press telling us that young Kusal regretted his actions and has promised to build the family of the deceased a home and look after his child’s education. Later, it emerged that Mendis had not only taken the Police and the law for a ride but even the gullible press. He broke a gentleman’s agreement.

Sri Lanka Cricket handled the issue poorly. Well, what can you expect of them. Rienzie Wijetilleke a former Board Chairman put his foot down when a similar thing happened in 2001 and sacked the leg-spinner who was involved in a hit and run.

In Mendis’ case, SLC CEO said that this was a personal matter and closed the case. Well, a contracted player and the captain in waiting killing someone on the road and fleeing the incident did not deserve such leniency. Mendis’ CCC connections prompted SLC to turn a blind eye, perhaps. No wonder the CEO was exposed well and truly at the COPE hearing.  Ashley de Silva has committed too many blunders and the handling of Kusal Mendis is one such.

Everybody gets dropped from the side. Even the great Aravinda de Silva got the axed, rather unkindly. But not Kusal Mendis. Clearly, he was struggling in South Africa having picked up three ducks in a row. He didn’t want the burdens of Test cricket and probably was better off sorting out his game at RPS with the Batting Coaches and not against James Anderson. But pointing out some bizarre reasons SLC retained him, waited till he completed a fourth duck in a row before axing him.

Young players need good mentors. They get so much of good counseling when they are young by coaches and well wishers. But suddenly when they graduate into the senior side, they fall prey to ruthless player agents who themselves have little values. As some of our finest captains are getting together to restructure the game, they need to look at the role of player agents seriously. Sadly, some of them are under the thumb of crooked player agents themselves having shown more loyalty to Perera Gardens than Maitland Place and there will be not much done to address this issue.

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The brand of cricket we want to play is free and relaxed:  – Sangakkara

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The 2008 IPL champions employed five opening pairs in the previous edition.

As many as five opening pairs were experimented with by the Rajasthan Royals last season. Ahead of their season opener against Punjab Kings, Sanju Samson, the newly-appointed captain of the franchise says that this year around, more stability can be expected from the side that chopped and changed so much to the extent of being unable to settle on a side until much later in the tournament.

“Myself and Sanga will try to give the best combination,” said Samson on Sunday (April 11). “From my point of view, it’s crucial to give an individual or a pair of opening partners enough time in the tournament. So, I think a bit of stability will be seen in this tournament. The rest it depends on how we go.”

Much has been debated about the batting order. Whilst Jos Buttler’s record at the top speaks for itself, Ben Stokes has been their go-to man for the opening slot. With Robin Uthappa gone this year, will they persist with Stokes at the top with Yashasvi Jaiswal, or will they promote Buttler up to a position he loves? Without committing too much either way about their preferred sequence, Kumar Sangakkara, the director of cricket at the Royals said the combination will be a decision they will undertake with the “full buying of the players involved”.

“We look to finalise (combinations) later on today before we go for training and we want we want to keep our options open,” said Sangakkara. “The most important thing is that players are communicated to clearly as to what their roles are and get them to commit to it.

“What we planned to do is get a balanced side, everyone available, a full squad, try and have a consistent philosophy of cricket. The brand of cricket that we want to play is quite free and relaxed. Also in terms of preparing well and executing well… to get everyone prepared to think and to be problem-solvers. To think for themselves. It helps Sanju a lot on the field when people are thinking for themselves and know what’s going on. It builds a lot of trust within the group as well. Everyone has individual strengths that they bring into the side which are highly valued. We try and build that into a good unit where everyone knows what they’re doing, what their value is and what their roles are. Then we’ll go and try to play some good cricket.”

An overhaul in how the Royals went about their business was needed, having had finished last in 2020. Rajasthan just couldn’t crack the code of winning matches consistently and a lot of it had to do with the lack of the team striking together. There were moments of brilliance before they fell back.

“We have a lot of match-winners who are absolutely wonderful players…in Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia, our fast bowlers. The key is to have different people who do something a little bit special on the day and the point of a great team performance is to have your regular players performing consistently and once in a while. Someone stepping in to do a little bit extra. If it’s a different player most of the time and not the same person, it’s even better.”

Another area of concern last year was the lack of support from the contingent of pace bowlers around Jofra Archer, who was named MVP. Archer missing the first few games will be a big blow for Rajasthan. Sangakkara, however, threw his support behind the inexperienced Indian bowlers in their squad to come good.

“I think inexperience sometimes can work for you and against. Inexperience would probably mean that the opposition has not really seen them either, but fast bowling, specially in the IPL is not an easy task and we saw that yesterday as well. Sometimes the wickets are really good for batting or most of the wickets are, so you have to be quite skillful. So I’m pretty confident that our young fast bowlers will step up. We’ve had Kartik Tyagi who did very well last season in patches in various phases of the game and this year we have a new additions in Kuldip Yadav and Chetan Sakariya. So I think it’s about you know keeping them again focused on what their job is really and get them trained and prepared to execute all the different deliveries and scenarios and match plans for the opposition. But at the same time concentrate in giving them confidence of their own strengths.”

When asked if despite all his years in the game, the highs and lows, he feels pressure of expectations in his new role, Sangakkara didn’t mince his words.

“I think there are always expectations and pressure. You can’t get away from that and you got to accept it. And the only way you deal with it is really, you know ticking off the boxes that you want in terms of training, in terms of preparation, getting combinations right. Get the players involved take ownership of not their own roles, but also the team plans and that makes things a lot easier. You can’t guarantee what will happen on the day of a match, but what you can guarantee is that you can go out and control what you control. Take a great attitude out, and Sanju always talks about playing with passion and with heart. I think that’s a very important point as well. That can really lift a team to do some special things out there when the pressure is on.

“So for me personally, know my job is to get everyone ready and once they get on the field my job is actually secondary. It’s about them going out there and expressing themselves playing really good smart cricket. But we wait and see. I think everyone’s really looking forward to starting the tournament,” he added.

 

 

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