by Rex Clementine
You do feel for Sri Lanka’s Head Coach Mickey Arthur. When the selectors called him up and discussed the way forward for the nation’s white ball teams banking on several young players, he agreed to rebuild the team with the likes of Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka forming the nucleus of the side. However, two months later, all three players were served with lengthy suspensions after they breached the bio-secure bubble during Sri Lanka’s tour of England early this year.
Left with a depleted side, Arthur spoke of the disappointment of having to play without three players on whom Sri Lanka Cricket had invested heavily over the last five years.
“That was a massive blow for us. You’re talking about three of your top-five batters in the white-ball format there. That was a bitter pill to swallow for sure. You suddenly got back to square one in terms of your planning again,” Arthur told journalists.
However, Arthur said that the positive for him was that some young players were able to grab their opportunities while some seniors were able to make comebacks.
“It was really disappointing, but it led us to find the likes of Charith Asalanka, who has come on beautifully. Then there is Kamindu Mendis, who’s playing beautifully. Pathum Nissanka probably got another opportunity. It’s allowed Dinesh Chandimal to come back into the mix. Bhanuka Rajapaksa to come back into the mix. So out of that adversity it’s allowed opportunities to other players,” Arthur noted.
While Sri Lanka’s bowling has fared well since the adoption of youth policy, it is the batting that has been a letdown and the absence of the suspended trio has been felt.
“I think if our batting clicks it’ll give us a really good chance because our bowling attack is very good and our fielding standards have improved dramatically. That is an area we’ve worked extremely hard on over the past nine days. We’ve had three practice games, we’ve had some skill sessions to prepare players to sweep, we identified where and how we want our players to play. We’ve almost scripted a game,” Arthur explained.
“It’s easy to stand and try and hit boundaries, but having the ability to deflect a ball into a gap off a good ball is a real art. That’s the real art of batsmanship. So, we’ve done a lot of drills during this phase, and we’ve harped on that. That’s something I’ve been working on for the last nine months with our group,” Arthur added.
Sri Lanka are currently in Oman and will play two T20 Internationals on Thursday and Saturday before flying to Abu Dhabi to begin preparations for the World Cup. They will have two warm-up games against Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea before the World Cup qualifier begins. Sri Lanka are grouped alongside Netherlands, Namibia and Ireland and need to win two games to proceed to the business end of the competition.
Sri Lanka won the T20 World Cup in 2014 in Dhaka and were runners-up in 2009 and 2012 in London and Colombo respectively.
Dialog National Netball Championship 2021
Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata PLC, continuing its promise of uplifting Sri Lanka sports has come forth once again for the third consecutive year to power the Dialog National Netball Championship 2021, which will be played from 22nd to 23rd January at the Digana Ground, Kandy.
The Dialog National Netball Championship 2021 will see 34 teams island-wide battle it out for top honours. The preliminary round of the tourney will be played in a league structure and from there onwards will be played on a knockout basis.
The National Netball Championship is the premier tournament conducted by the Netball Federation of Sri Lanka (NFSL) annually to identify and select talented players, coaches and umpires to train them to be champions of tomorrow in the international arena.
“The National Netball Championship is the most important tourney in the annual domestic calendar and I’m indeed thankful for Dialog Axiata for extending their support for the sport especially at a time the country and the economy is impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ranjani Jayakody, President, Netball Federation of Sri Lanka said. “The National Team has performed well in the past few years, hence tourneys such as the Dialog National Netball Championship is critical to maintain the form of national players and discover new talent.”
As the principal sponsor, Dialog Axiata has made arrangements to LIVE stream the match via thepapare.com, Dialog ViU mobile app and will also be shown LIVE on Dialog TV Channel 140.
Dialog Axiata is the proud sponsor of the Sri Lanka National Cricket, Volleyball and Netball teams. The Company also has a close association with the President’s Gold Cup Volleyball, Junior Volleyball, National Junior Netball tourneys, Schools Rugby League, Knockout and Sevens tourneys, Premier Football, Schools Cricket, and Paralympic sports – by powering the Army Para Games, National Para Games and the Sri Lankan contingent to the World Paralympic Games.
“Players must study and maintain their game as well”- Niranjan
By A Special Sports Correspondent
Tennis coach Niranjan Cassie Chetty is a versatile personality. When he is not into coaching he is an avid reader and enjoys music. And above all what’s interesting about this man is that one can have an interesting chat with him because his interests in life and sport spread far and wide.
We know little about the people who contribute to players from ‘behind the curtain’. Niranjan is a coach who shuns the limelight and prefers his chargers to bask in the glory of success and take home the silverware and decorate their trophy cupboards.
This year he produced two national singles champions-Yasitha De Silva (Men’s Singles winner) and Anjalika Kurera (Women’s Singles winner). These feats were recorded at the 106th Tennis Nationals worked off recently.
During an interview Niranjan had with ‘The Island’ newspaper he spoke about the importance of balancing both studies and sport in a country like Sri Lanka. This he said is important because in Sri Lankan school and university players don’t get any aid as concessions where classroom education is concerned. He cited Yasitha De Silva’s journey in tennis and said that the champion had a hard time balancing his studies and the sport and before emerging as the national champion and also completing his degree at the Colombo University.
“In other countries players at university can attend training in the mornings and then do some home studies where education is concerned. This helps immensely when players are training for international competitions and training is demanding,” said Niranjan who had played competitive tennis during his young days.
Niranjan opined that it would be ideal for the Sri Lanka Tennis Association, Sports Ministry and the Education Ministry to come together and have an arrangement for the national tennis players so that they can pursue education in a flexible manner which doesn’t hinder their training.
Niranjan advises strongly against taking a break for studies because staying away from tennis for a year or so can really jeopardize a career. “When you are around 16 years of age players are forced out of the tennis court due to academic commitments and this can be costly in terms of seeing a drop in performance. After age 16 players start their A Levels and some move on to university and this reduces time spent on the court which eventually causes a drop in volume in the players,” he explained. His advice is to not take that break from the game and move to another level where individual capacity is concerned; regarding handling studies and sport. “They have to study and maintain their game as well” he underscored.
He rues the fact that the game was severely affected by the pandemic when the entire world experienced Corona. “But I think the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA) managed the difficult time well and we were able to have some tennis and even take part in international competitions. The SLTA allowed three players and one coach in the court in 2020 during training. I downloaded some training apps and we were able to retain the condition of players to a certain extent. But overall it was an opportunity lost,” he said.
As a coach he is concerned about the country losing talented players after age 16 to education. This leaves Sri Lanka with no other option, but to play junior players at the Davis Cup; where Sri Lanka is at present playing in Group 4. There have been occasions where Sri Lanka has contested this event in the Group 3 and even Group 2, but for that challenge the best senior players must make themselves available.
Just the other day Singles champion Yasitha De Silva was quoted during an interview with a daily newspaper recently saying that he would face a tough challenge in the future when retaining his slot as current champion because he would be playing against young schoolboys who are full time players. Does this go on to state that the present national champion is a part-time tennis player?
Niranjan is of the opinion that Sri Lanka’s players must consider playing abroad in events organised by their academies because this arrangement guarantees players would remain active during the tour period and get to play sufficient tennis whereas in a tournament one runs the risk of getting knocked out and being a spectator thereon-wards. But this he said was only till the country is able to once again retain the senior players in the game. And if this is done, it would guarantee Sri Lanka’s chances in overseas competitions. He said players from Sri Lanka have the habit of playing in academy events in countries like India and Spain.
He hailed the efforts of the tennis authorities to have tournaments and conduct tennis events in the outstations. But he added that the tennis hub is in Colombo and the tennis fraternity was a small community. “I think I stuck on with the sport because I started young and there was a culture supporting the players in the game from my time. I can remember my parents listening to commentaries through the radio when Wimbledon matches were on and that kind of culture generates a lot interest for tennis,” recalled Niranjan.
Coaches like Niranjan have a lot to offer to the sport and it will augur for tennis’ future if they are offered a platform to speak from and positively influence the sport.
Sithum shines as De Mazenod beat Ananda
Under 17 Division I Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Notable all-round performances by Sithum Fernando for De Mazenod, an underdog’s triumph by Sri Sumangala, Kandy over Dharmaraja and Mahinda rattling Devapathiraja for 45 runs were among the highlights of the Inter School Under 17 Division I Cricket tournament matches played on Wednesday.
Sithum Fernando’s heroics helped de Mazenod beat Ananda by 54 runs at Ananda Mawatha. An unbeaten 60 by Maleesha Perera was the only bright spot in the home team’s run chase.
At Galle, Mahinda wrecked havoc on Devapathiraja as their pacemen Dinura Kalupahana and Shehan Hasaranga took five wickets each to skittle out the visitors for 45 runs. Pacemen have not accounted for all ten wickets in school matches often.
Thenuka Ekanayake scored a half century and took two wickets as a good team effort powered Sri Sumangala College to a remarkable 102 runs victory over Dharmaraja at Lake View.
Richmond, Galle, Bandaranaike, Gampaha and St. Benedict’s also registered victories in the matches played on Wednesday.
De Mazenod beat Ananda at Ananda Mawatha
243 for 9 in 50 overs (Nehan Dias 36, Sithum Fernando 53, Hasith Sandeepa 46, Thareen Sanketh 28, Vihas Perera 20; Ayesh Sashimal 3/48, Isuru Ayesh 2/32, Maleesha Perera 2/49)
189 all out in 38 overs (Viduna Wijebandara 30, Maleesha Perera 60n.o., Isuru Ayesh 20; Sithum Fernando 4/40, Thareen Sanketh 3/49)
Mahinda rattle Devapathiraja for 45 runs at Galle
45 all out in 17.4 overs (Pathum shaminda 10; Dinura Kalupahana 5/12, Shehan Hasaranga 5/16)
46 for 2 in 12.1 overs (Dhanuja Induwara 23)
Bandaranaike MV, Gampaha beat Sri Dharmaloka, Kelaniya by four wickets at Godigamuwa
266 for 9 in 50 overs (Sanura Ruwantha 46, Nadiv Manchanayaka 25, Helanka Viduranga 40, Sanira Nimnal 41, Uditha Shehan 57, Themira Mukashana 19n.o.; Yasiru Wijesinghe 2/49, Runada Rajapaksha 2/50, Ashen Wickramasinghe 3/56)
268 for 6 in 49.3 overs (DInujaya Hettiarachchi 42, Runada Rajapaksha 78, Kusal Karunarathne 35, Ashen Wickramasinghe 43, Vihanga Wijerathne 22n.o.; Nadiv Manchanayaka 2/57, Helanka Viduranga 2/34)
St. Benedict’s register eight wickets win at Panadura
125 all out in 37.4 overs (Geethama Fernando 26, Chamod Sanchethana 37n.o.; Hasanga Nanayakkara 2/31, Supun Senanayake 2/17, Kojitha Nimsara 2/20, Chamath Chathuraya 3/24)
127 for 2 in 22.1 overs (Viduneth Wilson 64n.o., Nethan Fernando 22, Shenel Samarathunga 22n.o.)
Sri Sumangala beat Dharmaraja by 102 runs at Lake View
203 all out in 48.2 overs (Madawa Rathnayake 48, Thenuka Ekanayake 67, Tharindu Lakshan 40; Saranga Uduwella 2/47, Arosha Mahagedara 3/43, Dulara Bandulasena 3/21)
101 all out in 24.2 overs (Hesara Rajapaksa 21; Thenuka Ekanayake 2/21, Buddi Sanchitha 4/12)
Richmond pull off 25 runs win over Vidyaloka at Galle
148 all out in 49 overs (Imesh Sasindu 27, Tharinda Nirmal 28, Sanahas Ramindu 26; Hansaka Randipa 4/14)
123 all out in 47 overs (Prageeth Bimsara 20, Thinuka Kalhara 37; Sharon Abhishek 3/31, Manuja Dulneth 3/31)
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