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Dean Jones – Sri Lanka’s friend indeed

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by Rex Clementine

The Aussies were in Galle for the first Test of the series in 2004 and Dean Jones joked in commentary. He said that it took him less than four hours from Singapore to Katunayake but five hours to get to Galle from Katunayake! He was driving home some pertinent points. Travel in Sri Lanka before the highway days was a nightmare. Sri Lanka Cricket did not raise objections with the television company that employed Jones nor did the Sports Ministry. His criticism was well taken by all and sundry. Jones didn’t mince any words. He was a bold critic. As The Island’s former Editor Mr. Gamini Weerakoon used to say, ‘A good journalist works with his resignation letter in the pocket.’

Jones was a huge fan of Sri Lanka. After the death of Tony Greig, he was an ideal ambassador to promote tourism and he did a splendid job. Some of his best moments in commentary came in Sri Lanka.

He earned the nickname of ‘Professor Deano’ for the pre-match show that he did during a triangular series in Dambulla. Jones was dressed as a Professor giving the pitch report and supporting him was up and coming actress Anarkali Akarsha, just 18-years-old. The show was a hit and fans took an immediate liking to both the ex-cricketer and budding actresses.

Not that his career was entirely smooth. During a Test match at P. Sara Oval in 2006, Ten Sports fired him while the day’s play was in progress for calling Hashim Amla a ‘terrorist’. Jones was off air but the microphone in the studio had picked his remark. He apologized immediately and was reinstated a few months later.

The fact that he was shortlisted to take over from Graham Ford in 2017 as the national cricket team’s Head Coach was a poorly kept secret by Sri Lanka Cricket. The Island asked him what would be the first thing he would do if he got the job. Jones said, ‘ban f***ing football during training.’ The Sri Lankan cricket team’s obsession to engage in a game of football as warm-up before a day’s play and training was frowned upon by many given the high number of injuries it was causing.

Jones was a fine batsman and in his generation only Viv Richards played one-day cricket better. A smart thinker of the game, it was Jones’ bright idea to run the extra run on the throw in the vast Australian grounds. He earned a reputation as an excellent runner between the wickets and when asked what was his secret, he replied, ‘just common sense.’ Soon, others followed the extra run on the throw theory while playing in Australia and it paid rich dividends.

His finest hour in the sport came in Test cricket though during the tied Madras Test in 1986. Jones made a double hundred and the scorching heat took a toll on him. He was vomiting and feeling uneasy but did not throw it away. At the end of his 210, Jones was hospitalized. Coach Bob Simpson said that it was the greatest innings played for Australia. His final Test match was played in Moratuwa in 1992.

Jones was in Bombay doing studio shows for host broadcaster on IPL games. The Island learns that he had gone for a run in the morning and was with former fast bowler Brett Lee when he suffered a severe heart attack in the seven star hotel lobby at lunch time. Lee desperately tried to save him with CPR after Jones collapsed but for no avail.

He was 59



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Mathews regrets Mankading of Buttler

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by Rex Clementine 

In an interview with our sister paper ‘Divaina Online’ former captain Angelo Mathews admitted that he regretted Mankading of England batsman Jos Buttler in 2014 at Edgbaston. This was the tour where Mathews had skippered Sri Lanka to an ODI and Test series wins in England. The teams had come into the final ODI with the series squared 2-2 and everything to play for. Buttler was run out for 21 as he was backing up too far at the non-striker’s end by off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake.

The umpires asked captain Mathews whether Sri Lanka were serious in their appeal. Mathews answered in the affirmative and Buttler had to go. But there was a storm of protest in England saying that Sri Lanka had contravened the Spirit of Cricket. Many believe that Mankading is unsportsmanlike as batsmen leave the crease unwittingly and not in a bid to gain undue advantage.

Mathews was adamant at that point that  he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, but now seven years older and a veteran of 100 Tests, the former captain regrets the decision.

“It was a spur of the moment thing. In hindsight we shouldn’t have done it. I could have told the umpires that I’m withdrawing the appeal.  Yes, I regret the decision. But we had warned Buttler several times. Not only at Edgbaston but even in the previous game at Lord’s,”  Mathews said.

There was more  to it than what everyone had witnessed that night. Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu is meticulous with his planning and he had observed in the previous game that Buttler converting many singles into two and twos into threes. It had been observed that Buttler had run ten twos in the last ten overs in the previous game. Marvan had given the thumbs up for Mankading of Buttler.

The incident was not well received in England. Mathews was a public enemy and a much despised figure. Not even David Warner and Steve Smith after the sandpaper gate had received such a hostile reception in England during Australia’s Ashes campaign.

Mathews and England captain Sir Alastair Cook had exchanged words during the game and Cook minced no words at the post match media briefing. “There’s a line and that line was crossed here. I’ve never seen it before in the game and I was pretty disappointed by it. As captain of your country, there are certain ways you want your team to operate. And obviously he is fine with it. He has said he will do it again.”

Sri Lanka’s Manager at that point was the equally eloquent Michael de Zoysa and he queried, ‘Who marks those lines.’

Michael was also careful to protect his captain. Instead of sending Mathews for the post series media briefing as was the custom, he brought down Mahela Jayawardene. MJ was diplomatic. “We had warned Buttler at Lord’s and we warned  him in the 42nd over in this game and when he did it again in the 44th over, we ran out of options,”  he said.

Buttler  had  been a serial offender and had been dismissed backing up too far in the IPL as well with Ravichandran Ashwin effecting the run out.

The MCC, the guardians of Cricket’s Laws put an end to the debate with a tweak in the Law in 2017. Earlier, it had been suggested that the batter could take off when the bowler landed his back foot. But now the non-striker can take off only after the bowler has released the ball and it seals the deal.” The MCC Cricket Committee that introduced the change included some of the finest brains in the game  like Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Ponting and  Brendon McCullum.

What does the term Mankading means? Well, Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad had famously run out Australia’s Bil Brown in 1947 in Sydney for backing up too far after multiple warnings. There was controversy but Australian captain Sir Don Bradman had defended Mankad’s actions. The press had a field day and gave birth to a new English word, ‘Mankading’.

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Stage set for Battle of the Golds- UVA

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St. Joseph’s College First Row (from left): Uthpala Imendra (Captain), G. Nalanda (Asst. Coach), R.B. Dulinda Abelanka (P.O.G), Laksiri Jayantha (Principal), Kapila Weerasekara (M.I.C), Chandana Bandara (Coach), K.H. Yasiru Ruwantha (Vice Captain) Second Row: D.M. Nishan Pramod, A.G.Sarith Malinda, T.M. Sachin dilanka, W.D. Ashan Ravindu, M.F.M. Shaheed, K.Sahan Hansaka, A.M.D. Sasitha Prabath, Akila Sawmya, D.M.Sithija Chamindu, R.M. Tharusha Nirmal, N.A.Themiya Sheheran, E.M. Hesara Dulaj, K.H.M. Oshada Devinda,L.M. Dilakshana Umesh

The 17th ‘Battle of the Golds – Uva’, the annual cricket encounter between St Joseph’s College, Bandarawela and Central College, Bandarawela will be played on August 18 and 19 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sooriyawewa.

St Joseph’s will be led by Uthpala Lankathillake, while Sadith Prabhath Rathnayaka will skipper Bandarawela Central. This year’s edition of the Big Match, is organised by the Bandarawela Central College Past Pupils’ Association.

St. Joseph’s lead the victory tally of the series having won the Big Match on three occasions. Central College has won the encounter on two occasions.

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Mel Jones to step down as Cricket Australia Director

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Mel Jones, who joined Cricket Australia as a director in December 2019, has decided to step down from her position at the next Annual General Meeting of the board in October because of her media and other work commitments in Australia and abroad.

“It has been an honour to serve for three years on the CA Board but my future work commitments, particularly given that I will be overseas for many months of the year, mean that I will not be able to devote the time required to fully support my fellow Board members after this year,” the former Australia batter said. “Consequently I will not be standing for re-election and will complete my three-year term at the next AGM.

“I would like to thank the Chairs and Board members, Cricket Australia staff and committee members and wish all those involved in Australian Cricket every success as we embark on an exciting new strategy and build on the game’s great foundation for the future. I am delighted, of course, to be able to continue my long-standing connection to cricket through my commentary, sporting and business interests and broad range of cricket relationships,” she added.

“Mel has been an outstanding member of our Board and her unique perspective and insights have been invaluable as we have set the strategy to ensure the continuing future health of the game,” Cricket Australia Chair Lachlan Henderson said. “Mel has made an enormous contribution to cricket through her playing days and subsequent involvement in coaching, commentary and work in the community, and will continue to do so.

We look forward to formally recognising Mel’s contribution on the CA Board at the AGM in October.”

Jones, who made her ODI debut in 1997, went on to play 61 ODIs for her country scoring 1028 runs. She was also part of two Australian squads that lifted the 50-over World Cup trophy in 1997 and 2005 respectively. She also represented Australia in five Test matches, aggregating 251 runs at an average of 35.85.

(Cricbuzz)

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