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CH rugby captain Madusanka wants to shape the careers of youth



By A Special Sports Correspondent

Colombo Hockey & Football Club (CH&FC) is making a massive effort to finish among the top four teams in the on-going inter-club league rugby tournament. CH&FC skipper Prasath Madusanka is spearheading that effort despite the Maitland Crescent Club not allowing space at the club’s ground for rugby practices. The club’s ground is exclusively used for cricket and hockey only at present. However, the club’s players receive all the other backing from the club to pursue rugby; the officials of the club are hiring out Race Course grounds for regular practices at a cost. Despite the challenges staring in their faces the CH&FC players are training hard to finish high on the points table after the conclusion of the second round.

As much as Madusanka focuses on his game he has an eye on the youngsters who have joined the club after having had promising school rugby seasons. “We are now forced to play with school leavers and even play them in the starting line-up. That’s a huge opportunity for them,” said Madusanka. He added that the seniors have a responsibility towards shaping the rugby futures of young talent before the former hang up their boots.

Madusanka, who plays hooker, said that he was happy with the contributions made by the new recruits. But he said that club rugby teaches many lessons and the ‘young blood’ must be receptive to them. “Sometimes I get dazed for a few seconds just after breaking up from a scrum. That’s how hard and brutal club rugby is at present,” explained Madusanka who is at present easily the best hooker in the country. He has held on to his place in the club and national side, the latter since making his debut in the Asian Five Nations in 2015.

The year 2015 was one of his finest; he has memories of being picked as the highest try scorer in the league rugby season. He played for Havelocks Sports Club that season.

He couldn’t refuse a tempting offer CH&FC made to him when he was at Havelocks. Madusanka looks back at that past and said that he switches clubs due to better benefits offered by the Gymkhana Club (CH&FC). He reminisced how the crossover was initiated by CH&FC player Rohitha Rajapakse.

However Madusanka warns that it’s increasingly hard for rugby players who are gainfully employed to at private companies to continue playing serious rugby. This he said is because private companies demand so much at work from employees who are also committed rugby players. According to him so many talented rugby players have already left the country in search of employment. It’s in this backdrop that Madusanka reminded this writer that CH&FC is one club that continued to pay half of the players’ salaries during the covid pandemic and the following financial crisis during which period there was no rugby.

When he looks back at the journey, he has made in club rugby he cherishes making one correct decision. “The importance of managing my office work with the same enthusiasm I show for rugby was drilled into my mind by Milanga Chandiram and I’m ever so grateful to him for guiding me,” said Madusanka who works as a Senior Marketing Executive at Sri Lankan Insurance. He has served this company for 11 long years. He recalled how helpful rugby contacts have been in bringing business to his company.

As much as he cherishes the moments he plays for CH&FC Madusanka loves the time he spends with the national team and represents the country at international tournaments. His first overseas tournament with the national team was in 2015 for the Asian Five Nations where Sri Lanka finished as runners-up. He said that his dream is to be a member of the national team that wins this tournament in the future.

He has trained hard to cement his place in the national side. He remembers taking over as hooker from Achala Perera and Dulanjana. Rugby critics have said that he is one of the most potential try scorers for any team he represents when attacking the goal line from 10 metres out. These are some of his thoughts on playing in the pivotal position of hooker. “You have to be very experienced and so accustomed to playing in this position before start really contributing to the game and the team. And the good thing is that hookers have a longer spanning rugby career compared to those playing in other positions. But hookers have also have some much to do in the set pieces,” said Madusanka. He said that with age and experience he has taught himself to have the same satisfaction as the try scorer if he feeds that try with any kind of help.

Another important factor in this sportsman’s career is that he has a supportive wife and two loving kids. His wife Kithma Chamodi has gifted him with two lovely sons, Yewen (6) and Yehan (1). Yewen who schools at Isipathana College has already taken to rugby and represents the school’s under 10 team in tag rugby tournaments. He is probably the youngest kid out their playing under 10 tag rugby at age 6!

Now aged 30 Madusanka sees the challenges ahead of rugby. According to him the popularity of all sports has taken a dip and it’s of concern for him. “Right now rugby is second to cricket in this island in the popularity ratings. But I don’t for how long that will last. The spectator interest for rugby is also thinning and this could be due to the high prices of tickets at club rugby matches. CH&FC not charging a gate at matches they host at Race Course must be lauded at a time like this,” concluded Madusanka

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Where have all the mystery bowlers gone? 



by Rex Clementine 

It’s been a while since a mystery Sri Lankan spinner bamboozled the opposition batsmen. Not just batsmen but coaches went on a frenzy decoding these bowlers while Times of India and Daily Telegraph dedicated headlines praising how well Sri Lanka groomed these sensational talents.

Ajantha Mendis was the last global sensation with bit of mystery as his carrom ball humbled India’s fabulous batting line-up comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly. After him T. M. Dilshan opening the batting with field restrictions on came up with a scoop shot over the head of the wicketkeeper that later became popular as Dilscoop.

Not exactly mystery but Sri Lanka promoting unorthodox style of play totally contrary to the coaching manual had been appreciated and encouraged. Not just Dilshan and Mendis but Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya all broke convention and were extremely successful.

Credit to selectors and captains for encouraging these natural talents and more importantly for the coaches, especially at lower levels, for not sidelining them for being different.

Mendis and Malinga weren’t hits at school cricket and they were more or less groomed after they left school. But Jayasuriya and Murali were entirely different. Thankfully their early coaches did not tinker too much with their style.

Coaches nowadays are too engaged in the sport. They roam around the boundary rope providing ball by ball instructions making the captain redundant. Imagine how much impact they’d be having on players at training and there’s little room for creativity.

Cricket Academies are mushrooming as well with little monitoring done and you sense that not many players with unorthodox style are going to be accepted and as a result succeed. There are few rare talents with unorthodox styles. Some bowlers have copied Lasith Malinga and Matheesha Pathirana has earned an IPL deal even before he’s become a permanent fixture in the Sri Lankan side.

Paul Adams earned a nickname ‘frog in the blender’ for his action  and anyone who sees Sri Lankan spinner Kevin Koththigoda from down south will remember the South African wrist spinner.

Funnily Richmond College, Galle seem to be nurturing these special talents and Kamindu Mendis is another player who can  make a big impact. He’s nowadays mostly in the Test squad and nearly featured in the second Test in Wellington. He’s there in the team for his batting but he’s ambidextrous and bowls both left-arm spin and off-spin with good accuracy. That makes him an ideal candidate for shorter formats of the game and that’s where he should perhaps focus more at succeeding.

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Gateway wins Netball Championship



The victorious Gateway College under 18 Netball team

Gateway College emerged Under 18 Netball Champions at the Inter International School tournament organized by Colombo International School (CIS) played at the Sugadadasa Indoor Stadium.

Gateway College, led by calm and composed Rithika Srikanth, beat Lyceum Wattala 16 -8 in the final after leading 9 – 6 at the breather. Gateway entered the final by beating their counterpart in Kandy 12 -6. At the Group stages, Gateway beat ILMA 16– 5, Lyceum Nugegoda 12 – 1, CIS Colombo 17 – 0 and the British School in Colombo 18 – 0.

Gateway’s young star Shenoshi Abeygunawardena was crowned the Netball Queen and Cloe Thillakaratne was adjudged as the Best Defensive player. Mawrya Liyanage did the vital turnarounds to keep Lyceum Wattala under check and Goal Attack Onadhi Samarakoon was outstanding with her accurate shooting.

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2023 Asia Cup likely in Pakistan and one other overseas venue for India games



“Which visa do we have to apply for?”

The 2023 Asia Cup is likely to be played in Pakistan with another overseas venue to host India games. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that both BCCI and PCB, after an initial standoff, are moving swiftly towards brokering a resolution which could have both teams playing their tournament matches against each other outside Pakistan. The overseas venue is not confirmed but the UAE, Oman, Sri Lanka and even England are potential contenders to host five matches including at least two India-Pakistan contests.

India and Pakistan have been grouped together along with a qualifier in the six-nation Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in the first half of September this year and in a 50-over format. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are part of the other group. A total of 13 matches will be played across 13 days including the final. As per the format for the 2022 Asia Cup, the top two teams from each group advance to the Super 4s and the top two teams then contest the final. The possibility of India and Pakistan playing three times remains.

As it stands, a small working group has been formed with the brief of creating a schedule and travel plan agreeable to all participating countries as well as the broadcaster before a final call is taken. The weather is likely to play a key role in determining the second venue outside of Pakistan, though there will be keenness among the Asian venues to host high-profile India-Pakistan games. Temperatures in early September in the UAE usually hover around the 40-degreee centigrade mark, though that has not prevented cricket from being played there: the 2021 IPL was played there late September, but Pakistan have played international matches in early September. In Muscat, Oman’s capital, temperatures remain lower and it did host the first round of the 2021 T20 World Cup. The option for England remains an ambitious one, though the prospect of big crowds in a city like London is likely to be an attractive one.

The option of staging part of the Asia Cup outside Pakistan was agreed in principle as the most favourable by all members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) when they met last weekend in Dubai, on the sidelines of the ICC’s quarterly board meetings. Having failed to reach a resolution mid-March in Bahrain at the ACC meet, members converged for two further rounds of informal discussions in Dubai. The PCB, which has the hosting rights for the 2023 edition of Asia Cup, was represented by its chair Najam Sethi while the BCCI team comprised its secretary Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal, the IPL governing council chairman.

Last October, the PCB was caught off guard by Shah who said that the 2023 Asia Cup would be held in a “neutral” venue. The PCB, then under Ramiz Raja – Sethi’s predecessor – immediately responded that Pakistan would pull out of the tournament altogether if it was taken out of the country. Sethi reiterated that stance both in the Bahrain and Dubai rounds of discussions. Shah said he had made the statement in his capacity as the ACC president. During the Bahrain meeting, the BCCI pointed out that as hosts it had successfully conducted the 2018 edition of Asia Cup at a neutral venue – in the UAE – after it became clear Pakistan could not travel to India due to the strained political ties between the two neighbouring countries.

Relations continuing as they are, Shah had told the ACC that India wouldn’t be able to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. As discussions began in Dubai, he reiterated the position. The PCB did likewise, saying that if the entire tournament was taken out of Pakistan, they would pull out of the event altogether. At one point Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had offered to swap the hosting rights with the PCB, willing to stage the entire tournament, but that was rejected by the PCB.

With a stalemate all too apparent, a second option of splitting the tournament across two countries including Pakistan emerged over the course of informal discussions and was eventually presented and discussed at the formal ACC meeting. It is understood both PCB and BCCI were open to such a plan, subject to details and logistics being worked out that satisfied everyone. The plan will also be taken to their individual governments before a formal schedule is worked out.


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