by Rex Clementine
Since reaching the finals of the ICC Youth World Cup in the year 2000 under the captaincy of Malintha Gajanayaka, Sri Lanka Under-19 have struggled to make an impact in the tournament although several players involved in the competition have gone onto have an impact with the senior side. Sri Lanka have never reached the finals since they hosted the event in 2000 where they lost to an Indian side that comprised Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
In recent months, however, there has been a concerted effort to uplift the standards of the Under-19 team and the young cricketers just completed a three week residential coaching camp with training taking place at SSC.
SLC had conducted an island wide talent search and had picked 75 players who went through a residential training camp in Kandy and that was further trimmed to 26 and apart from emphasizing on the technical and tactical aspects of game, the players were also educated on history of the game, an area that has been earmarked as vital.
When the 75 players camped in Kandy, they were asked a simple question, which year did Sri Lanka gain Test status and not a single player could answer. Alarmed by this lack of knowledge, the authorities have made an effort to educate players on this vital aspect of the game.
While there are some brilliant coaches in school cricket both in Colombo and in outstations who are keen in seeing the development of young players rather than winning alone, there are also coaches and school authorities who want to win at any cost and that is not helping the young players.
SLC’s second residential camp for the Under-19 players ended on Wednesday and the players have returned home for a break and will enter a bio-secure bubble again as they will play a bilateral series against Bangladesh in two weeks time. Bangladesh are the World Champions in Under-19 cricket having upset a strong Indian side in the finals in South Africa last year.
There will be more exposure for the young players as Sri Lanka will host England Under-19 in November followed by the Asia Cup and then the World Cup in the Caribbean.
As a goodwill gesture, SLC gave away Rs. 100,000 each to the 26 players who have been chosen for the Under-19 squad.
Former opening batsman Avishka Gunawardene is the Head Coach of the Under-19 side and former captain Mahela Jayawardene will work with the team as a consultant.
Quarter-finals from today
Under 19 Division III Tier ‘B’ Cricket
The quarter-finals of the Under 19 Inter Schools Division III Tier ‘B’ cricket tournament conducted by Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association will commence with the Maris Stella College, Thimbirigaskatuwa meeting Wickramabahu National School, Gampola at Wickramashila National School ground Giriulla today.
Quarter-finals line up
Maris Stella, Thimbirigaskatuwa V Wickramabahu NS, Gampola at Giriulla
Ananda NS, Puttalam V Sri Sumangala, Kelaniya at Giriulla
Hindu College, Matale V St. Michael’s College, Batticalloa at Polonnaruwa
D.S. Senanayake, Ampara V Pannala NS at Polonnaruwa
Neyara to meet Anjalike in the women’s singles final
Neyara Weerawansa beat top seed Savini Jayasuriya in the semi-final to book a final berth in the women’s singles final against Anjalika Kurera in the 106th Colombo Championships at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.
The semi-final, which recommenced on Monday after being interrupted by wet weather on the previous day, the British School Colombo player scored 6-1, 5-7, 10-7 to oust last year finalist Jayasuriya.
She will now encounter Anjalika Kurera in the final.
Aahil Kaleel Under 12 champion
Meanwhile, S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia player Aahil Kaleel beat Methika Wickramasinghe to win the Under 12 boys singles title on Sunday. He scored 1-4, 4-2, 10-7 in the final after edging out Pasindu Rukunnayake (quarter-final) and Chaminda Abeysinghe (semis).
Hayleys crowned winners of MCA premier league
Hayleys Group Recreation Club (HGRC) led by Avishka Fernando were crowned as the “League” winners of the 28th Singer-MCA Premier League which came to conclusion with a glittering awards presentation held at the MCA Legends New Wing on Thursday.
Though the tournament had a pre-mature ending, Hayleys by virtue of being unbeaten led the table of points at the point when the tournament was stopped. The MCA Tournament Committee with the consent of the rest of the three teams, decided to award the league title to Hayleys.
Hayleys, playing only their third season in the MCA Premier League, won the T20 title under Avishka Fernando in the previous season.
On their way to the title Hayleys beat HNB (by five wickets), CDB Finance (by 96 runs), John Keells (by two wickets) and HNB in their return game (by two wickets).
Avishka Fernando captained the title winning Hayleys team.
Hayleys squad included Avishka Fernando (Captain), Prabath Jayasuriya (VC), Dilruwan Perera, Kithruwan Vithanage, Chathuranga de Silva, Ron Chandraguptha, Lahiru Samarakoon, Nimesha Gunasinghe, Pasindu Thirimadura, Kavishka Anjula, Santhush Gunatillake, Kalana Perera, Vishad Randika, Navindu Fernando, Mohamed Shamaaz, Lahiru Tirimanne, Binura Fernando, Lasith Embuldeniya, Thashik Perera, Kabil Kapilraj, Lakshina Rodrigo and Sahan Nanayakkara. They were coached by Nishantha Weerasinghe with Vimukthi Deshapriya as the assistant coach. Pramoth Fernando was the manager.
Awards were given away by the Chief Guest, CEO, Singer Group Companies, Mahesh Wijewardene, Marketing Director, Singer SL, PLC, Shamil Perera and MCA Officials, President, Nalin Wickremesinghe, Senior Vice President and Chairman Tournament Committee, Mahesh de Alwis and Vice President Sirosha Gunatillake.
It was a memorable moment for Hayleys Group Chairman and CEO, Mohan Pandithage, Group Head HR, Dharshi Thalpahewa and the HGRC Officials – Jeramy Anandappa (President), Mohan Fernando (VP) and Ruchina Jayatillaka (Co Ordinator), who were present at the event.
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