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Cricket moans nation’s first Test captain’s death

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by Rex Clementine  

There are some who always back underdogs. While the winners’ men go places, those who support the underdogs remain at odds with the system. With the larger circle of course, the fans for example, which is what matters, they remain hugely popular. One such breathed his last yesterday after a brief illness. Bandula Warnapura the nation’s first Test captain was 69.

Two of his contemporaries, Roy Dias and Duleep Mendis, also 69ers, were speechless. They had played lot of cricket together. The trio had toiled to put Sri Lanka in the world map and after retirement had shaped Sri Lankan cricket to great heights. While Roy and Duleep still contribute sharing the wealth of their knowledge, Bandu has gone, too soon and leaving a huge void.

Bandu was not an authoritative captain. You don’t have to be to succeed as captain. There was bit of Kane Williamson in him; friendly, trustworthy and authentic. His best virtue as skipper was his instincts. Filling in for injured skipper Anura Tennekoon during the 1979 World Cup, Bandu sensed an opportunity. Not because Sri Lanka were better than India. Man to man, India with Gavaskars, Vengsarkars, Viswanaths, Kapils, Amarnaths and Bedi, were a far better side. But there was in fighting among Indians and as a result none of the above captained the side. Venkataraghavan had become captain, by default. Bandu went for the kill and Sri Lanka were victorious. There was no denying of Test status from thereon.

The fact that Bandu faced Sri Lanka’s first ball in Test cricket made him the nation’s first Test cricketer as Bob Willis delivered the first ball in Test cricket in Sri Lanka. His time in Test cricket was short lived having got on the payroll of Dr. Ali Bacher opting to go to apartheid South Africa.

Morally it was not the right thing to do. South Africa was whites only those days. As a black, you would be made a honourary white citizen so that you could move around Wanderers, Newlands and Kingsmead.

His conscience would have told Bandu that this was not the right thing to do. But there comes a time in life where all of us have to make choices. Having lived through COVID for 18 months now where there have been so many financial challenges, you tend to break a few rules. Not to rob a bank but set aside your values and settle for something that provides you some financial security to look after your family. Some of us get away with these things. Some of us pay a small price. Some others pay a heavy one. Bandu lost everything having been banned for 25 years.

Eventually, Gamini Dissanayake mellowed. He reduced the ban to eight years. But that was for the players. The captain had to serve one more year before he could be allowed into cricket.

Bandu went places at SLC. He was only second in command to Duleep Mendis holding the post of Director, Cricket Operations. From there, he went to Malaysia and joined Asian Cricket Council and went a step further joining the ICC. He was hugely popular among his colleagues and superiors. Quite efficient too as he oversaw the development of several up and coming teams.

There was no better story teller in cricket than Bandu. He had one for every occasion. Television channels used his expertise in reality shows where he held his own.

But cricket could have used his services more than local television stations. They chose not to. Bandu was in a different camp. Actually, he was an independent man. What is it with our cricket that we keep our captains at arm’s length or maybe even avoid them like the plague? Bandu had no role to play in recent years. Duleep has no role to play. Arju has no role to play. Sanath has no role to play. Marvan has no role to play. Mathews has no role to play. The list goes on.

Bandu will be missed. May he attain the supreme bliss of nibbana.



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Dr. Cyril’s journey in Taekwondo has been fruitful

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All invitees and students who were felicitated by the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association pose for a photograph with Dr. Cyril Antony

by A Special Sports Correspondent

Taekwondo in Sri Lanka has made a tough and challenging journey after it was introduced to the islanders by Deshamanya Master Dr. Cyril Antony to the island back on December 12th, 1976.

Those were the days when Bruce Lee’s films were sown in Asia and there was a great following for martial arts. The same environment prevailed here in Sri Lanka as well. After Dr. Antony picked up the rudiments of Taekwondo in Canada-where its founder General Choi Hong Hi was residing-he decided to make a quick return home and spread the sport island-wide.

However, Dr. Antony’s beginnings in martial arts had more to do with Kyokushin karate; a martial art where its players resorted to heavy blows and full contact fighting. According to Dr. Antony, Taekwondo is a much safer sport than karate due to its rhythmic and circular movements. “I respect karate because I cut my teeth in martial arts by learning it. But I realised that my future was with Taekwondo once I learned it in Canada,” said Antony in an interview with The Island.

There was a large following for the sport when he introduced it. But the numbers wanting to try it shot up largely because he had a successful stint as a referee at the World Championships in 1978. He was just 30 years old then when he achieved this feat.

At the inception, he started classes in Colombo, Kandy, Badulla, Wattala, Ratnapura, and Kuliyapitiya. “I used my personal contacts to promote the sport. There was much help for me because there was no politics involved with the sport back then,” he recalled. All these activities were made possible through his ‘club’-the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association (SLTA).

As the sport gathered momentum here in Sri Lanka he registered the SLTA as the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation with the Ministry of Sports in 1984. Before that, exactly two years earlier, he registered Taekwondo as a national sport with the Ministry of Sports. All this was done with the good intention of promoting the sport and not with the aim of basking in personal glory.

However, things fell out of place when, in the year 1996, the then Minister of Sports took steps to suspend the registration of the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation. No reasons were given for this harsh action. The Sports Minister appointed an interim committee to oversee the administration of the federation and included his name among the list of administrators. But Dr. Antony soon fell out with the rest of the interim committee, so decided to go on his own.

Dr. Cyril Antony’s students perform during a Taekwondo demonstration

Reflecting on the suspension Dr. Antony said, “I think they wanted to benefit from the aid sent to us from South Korea for the purpose of promoting the sport here. I don’t think the Ministry of Sports had any legitimate right to suspend our registration because we didn’t receive any government funding or support.”

So between the years 1976 and 2021 the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association, functioning in the capacity of a club promoted the sport in the island and served this nation in silence. To date there are as many as 200 committed students and eight qualified instructors there to promote the sport.

On December 12 last year the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Association held a ceremony to mark the occasion of the sport being present in Sri Lanka for a period of 45 years. It was held at the residence of Dr. Antony; the event was well attended by his students, teachers, his close associates, and the few representatives of the media.

Looking back at the hard journey made thus far Dr. Antony said, “I think we did better as an association that functioned without ties with the Ministry”. For the record his son Uditha and daughter Nayanajeevi are also full-time students training under him.

He added that Taekwondo being an Olympic sport was an added advantage to those practising it. “Our suspension took away the glory from the sport practised here,” he said.

Speaking further on the matter he said when he visited the archives of the Sports Ministry he had been told that there were no documents there to show that the Sri Lanka Taekwondo Federation was suspended. However, the federation is at present functioning under an elected body; in which Dr. Antony plays no role.

As things are Dr. Antony will continue to function through his Association which is serving the sport well. He has a great following in the sport and the name Dr. Cyril Antony is interwoven with Taekwondo in Sri Lanka. The sport owes a great deal to him because according to Dr. Antony he has spent the best years of his life promoting Taekwondo. He has grown old in the sport and he cannot even dream of divorcing himself from the sport he loves so much.

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Pesandu wins Sri Lanka Chess Grand Prix 2022

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Pesandu Rashmitha Liyanage of D.S. Senanayake College receiving his award from Luxman Wijesuriya, the president of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka.

Pesandu Rashmitha Liyanage of D.S. Senanayake College, Colombo won the Championship of the Sri Lanka Chess Grand Prix 2022 when he beat S. Sivathanujan of Kokavil Hindu College 1 ½ – ½ in the finals. In the double round finals, Pesandu won his first game with white pieces and forced a draw in the second game.

Liyanage earned Rs. 60,000.00, the Gold Medal and the Championship Trophy. Earlier in the semi-finals, he beat Osheen de Silva.

Sivathanujan settled for the silver medal and a cash award of Rs. 40,000.00.

In the consolation final, Osheen de Silva of Sri Lanka Navy beat Vinuda Shenal Gunatilake of Royal College 1 ½ – ½ . He beat Vinuda in the first round and drew the second round encounter to finish with 1 ½ . He received Rs. 25,000.00 and the bronze medal.

Vinuda had to satisfy with the fourth place and a cash award of Rs. 15,000.00. Buddhika Amarasinghe beat Kosala Sandeepa Amarasinghe and was placed fifth place and became eligible to receive a cash award of Rs. 10,000.00.

The 9th Sri Lanka Chess Grand Prix 2022, conducted by the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka had two stages. In the first stage, two round Robin events were played with nine rounds. Nine players competed. Unfortunately, Surath Wijeratne withdrew from the event after the first round and a point was given to all opponents in each round.

During the second stage, a knock-out events of semi-finals and finals were played among the top two teams of Group A and B. The two third-placed players competed for the fifth place.

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Dulanjana hammers 344 runs as St. Joseph Vaz’s win by 665 runs

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St. Joseph Vaz’s College number three batsman Inesh Dulanjana scored a triple century for his school to amass 708 runs for five wickets before cruising to 665 runs victory over Basilica College, Ragama in an Under 15 Division I cricket encounter at Ragama on Tuesday.

Dulanjana scored 344 runs in just 130 balls, according to official scorers the St. Joseph Vaz’s captain has scored 44 fours and 19 sixes in his swashbuckling innings. Nevin Senkith (111 in 83 balls, 19x4s, 1x6s) and Vimukthi Isara (109 not out in 39 balls, 13x4s, 7x6s) also scored centuries.

In reply, Basilica, fielding only ten batsmen were dismissed for 43 runs. Deneth Nimsara produced figures 8-4-7-6 for his six wickets.

 

Scores:

St. Joseph Vaz’s 708 for 5 in 50 overs (Hansa Mihiranga 39, Inesh Dulanjana 344, Nevin Senkith 111, Vimukthi Isara 109n.o., Domonik Fernando 57)

Basilica 43 for 9 in 17 overs (Deneth Nimsara 6/07) (RF)

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