World’s leading airline Emirates’ association with cricket dates back to 1998. Emirates came in as the sponsor for a tri-nation tournament in England involving the hosts, South Africa and Sri Lanka. The competition was titled Emirates triangular tournament and it was the dawn of a new era.
It was the first time that an international series was played in England in coloured clothing. Twenty years after Kerry Packer had revolutionized the sport in Australia; it needed some innovation from Emirates for traditions in England to change.
The closely contested series saw Sri Lanka and England reaching the finals and defending world champions beating hosts England by five wickets thanks to Marvan Atapattu’s maiden hundred. Muttiah Muralitharan finished with five for 34, the best bowling figures in ODIs at the Home of Cricket.
Since then, Emirates has expanded investing heavily on cricket. The airline is one of the sponsors of all major ICC events such as the 50 over World Cups, T-20 World Cups, World Test Championships, Women’s World Cups, and Under-19 World Cups. Emirates sponsorship with ICC dates back to 2002.
Emirates also sponsors ICC Elite Panel of Umpires and Match Referees, another association that dates back to 2002. The airline that reaches all continents also flies match officials all over the world.
Emirates has also tied up with two English cricket counties. Durham won back to back County titles in 2008 and 2009 and Emirates came on board the following year. Since then, they have won the County Championship once in 2013 and many England stars are in their ranks including 2019 World Cup hero Ben Stokes.
The Durham deal included the naming rights of the ground and their venue at Chester-le-Street was named Emirates Riverside Stadium. Sri Lanka played two World Cup fixtures in 2019 at this venue against South Africa and West Indies.
In 2013, Emirates signed up a ten year deal with England’s leading county Lancashire. With that deal, one of the iconic venues of cricket the Old Trafford was renamed Emirates Old Trafford.
Cricket is not the only sport that has benefited from the generous Emirates’ sponsorships. There are several football clubs that have tie-ups with Emirates including leading clubs such as Barcelona, AC Milan and Arsenal. Emirates is also the title partner of UK’s leading football competition the FA Cup, which has been now renamed as The Emirates FA Cup since 2015.
Emirates has sponsored the last three Rugby World Cups. The Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens is an association that goes back to 1987 and the tournament will get underway shortly after the ICC T-20 World Cup with Sri Lanka too participating.
Tennis, Golf, Cycling, Motor Racing, Sailing and Horse Racing are some of the other sports that Emirates sponsors.
‘I have accomplished my job’ – Yupun on his sub 10 seconds
by Reemus Fernando
Sprinter Yupun Abeykoon who became the latest member of the exclusive sub 10 seconds club in the men’s 100 metres said that he has accomplished the target he had set himself and all achievements from here on would be bonuses.
Speaking to his fans on a social media platform, the first South Asian athlete to run the men’s 100 metres under 10 seconds said that running sub 10 seconds in the athletics’ glamour event was what he was working hard on and he felt a sense of accomplishment after stopping the clock at 9.96 seconds in Switzerland on Sunday. His first sub ten seconds feat and the 10.16 seconds performance he achieved in 2020 to get the Sri Lanka record under his belt will always remain special to him.
Abeykoon smashed his own national record and became the first man from South Asia to run the men’s 100 metres under ten seconds when he clocked 9.96 seconds to win the men’s 100 metres at the Resisprint International.
It is also the fastest performance by an Asian this year overtaking the two Japanese sprinters Ryuichiro Sakai and Abdul Hakim Sani Brown who are yet to clock sub 10 seconds this year.
“I am really happy to have accomplished the target. I knew that I could do it this year. It was not a coincidence. It was a result of a three year plan with my coaches. No one can perform magic in this sport. By last year we knew that we could reach the target this year,” said Abeykoon beaming from ear to ear when he came on live on Tuesday.
“I tried to reach the target from the start of this season. I missed the opportunity on a number of occasions. I was waiting for the ideal condition.
“I do not know how you will take this. I have finished my job. From now on what I achieve, my victories will all be bonuses,” the 27-year-old said.
He said that the 10.16 seconds and 9.96 seconds will remain special to him.
He said the plan for this year was to win an Asian Games medal, reach the Commonwealth Games final and to feature in the semi-finals of the World Championships in Oregon.
The 9.96 seconds result proves that the training schedules had gone according to plan as he tops the Asian 100 metres sprinters list and is placed among the top 15 athletes in the world in his pet event.
Commenting on the photo he published recently with Yohan Blake on facebook he said that he was shocked to hear that Blake had watched and followed his races.
The Jamaican who had run 9.69 secs (-0.1 in 2012) is considered the second fastest man ever to have competed in the men’s 100 metres behind compatriot Usain Bolt.
“Generally competitors would not wish his opponents but Blake wished me for my race. He had watched some of my previous races.”
Yupun said that he would try his best to do well at future events to bring a smile to his followers.
Spin legend Warne’s legacy lingers long after Sri Lanka tsunami
No foreign cricketer is likely to ever capture the hearts of Sri Lankans quite like Shane Warne did.
Yet, of all the heartfelt tributes paid to the spin great on the island he had helped to rebuild from its worst ever natural disaster, the late spin great might have been most touched by a quiet moment in the small village of Seenigama this week.
Back in early 2005 at the urging of Muttiah Muralitharan, Warne had visited the seaside community on Sri Lanka’s south coast, one of many that had been flattened by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
Among the most memorable vision captured by a 60 Minutes film crew during his visit was four-year-old Dilini Wasana kissing Warne on the cheek as he handed out food and toys.
On Monday, four months after the sudden death of the Victorian, Dilini was in the same spot where she had met Warne seventeen years ago.
This time she greeted his brother Jason, who was visiting the Foundation of Goodness; the embodiment of Shane’s contribution to the country.
“It’s been pretty emotional,” said Jason Warne, standing on a small cricket ground the Foundation built in the aftermath of the tsunami.
“We’re here because of what Shane did in 2004. It’s been great to come over here and get a sense of why he wanted to do it.
“(From) the footage that came out of Shane’s visit, there was one little girl (Dilini) who gave him a kiss on the cheek, you could see she was so happy.
“She was saying she would love to be able to say thank you one more time. To go there today and see her, was pretty special.”
The spin legend’s visit back in 2005 to Sri Lanka shone a light on the destruction to lives, homes and the Galle cricket ground where Warne had taken his 500th Test wicket less than a year earlier.
It prompted a wave of donations from Australia and his continued efforts in the ensuing years have not been forgotten.
Kushil Gunasekera, the long-time manager of Murali who runs the Foundation of Goodness, has used the proceeds to build community facilities across ten sites in rural Sri Lanka.
One of the graduates of the Foundation’s educational programs was Ramesh Mendis, born in nearby Ambalangoda and whose off-spin saw him take four wickets against Australia in last week’s first Test.
“He was the first one to come,” Gunasekera said of Shane on Monday, as he gave Jason and his wife Shay a two-hour tour of school, health, dental and sporting facilities in Seenigama.
“What Shane did when he came with 60 minutes, and because of the way he presented the case, it went all around Australia.
“And as a result Master Builders came, the Victorian Government came, and we were able to get help from so many people.”
Since his brother’s passing, Jason Warne has heard countless stories, tributes and messages of gratitude from around the world about the leg-spinner’s impact on other’s lives.
For the first Test in Galle, the ground the late Warne had helped raise $1 million for, posters with his and Murali’s faces were stationed around the ground while seven members of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning team were on hand for a commemorative plate presentation before play.
“It was hard not to notice the Warnie portraits up all around the ground,” said Mitchell Swepson, one of the few leg-spinners to play Test cricket for Australia since Warne.
“All the work he did for the Sri Lankan tsunami fund, he’s had a massive impact on this country with his cricket and off the field as well. It was great to see them pay tribute and see how much they respect the man
“I’m in no way shape or form trying to be Shane Warne, he is the best we’ve ever had … but when people ask me what I do, I tell them I bowl leg spin it’s ‘Oh, like Warnie”.
“That’s just the mark he left on the game, he’s a legend.”
Some tributes have even surprised Jason Warne, most notably the announcement from the United Nations at the MCG memorial service that a wildlife conservation grant would be named in the late cricketer’s honour.
“It’s sometimes hard to get your head around that my brother, who I used to just go up to the nets with and have a bit of fun, has left such a legacy,” said Warne.
Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament
by a Special Sports Correspondent
The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.
The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.
The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.
“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.
Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.
Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.
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