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Enjoy James Anderson’s skills for one last time

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 Rex Clementine at Galle Fort

Spinners dominate in Asia and fast bowlers have their work cut out in unresponsive and flat pitches. There are those of course who are crafty enough to overcome challenges and do their best to the team. James Anderson is one such. He was nicely setting up Sri Lankan batsmen on the opening day of the second Test in Galle that got underway on Friday.

With the new ball, he reduced Sri Lanka to seven for two– accounting for Kusal Perera (6) and Oshada Fernando (0) early in the innings.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews ensured that there was not a repeat of the first Test – a collapse. Thirimanne was beginning to breathe easy. He added 69 runs for the third wicket with Angelo Mathews and Sri Lanka were 76 for lunch. In the second ball after lunch, Anderson struck again. His line and length were impeccable.

It was hot and humid in Galle. Anderson barely sent down a loose ball. Of his 19 overs on day one, ten were maiden. Such efficiency in Asia is rarely seen by a seamer. The likes of Sir Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram and Mitchell Starc had done it before. Anderson is doing the job for England and that’s one reason why they have not lost a series in Sri Lanka since 2007.

Fast bowlers last a maximum of a decade and half. Rarely do they go beyond 15 years. Anderson has defied those numbers. Super fit at the age of 38, the Lancastrian is on his 19th year of international cricket and he may stretch it to two decades.

This is Anderson’s fifth tour to Sri Lanka. It is unlikely that he will visit the island again. So we must enjoy his art for one last time. He gets wickets with the new ball with his impeccable line and length and once the ball gets softer, he is deadlier reverse swinging the ball expertly.

Anderson is the world’s fourth highest wicket taker. The top three wicket takers are spinners and he is the leading fast bowler with 606 wickets so far. He has featured in a ‘small number’ of 158 Test matches.  No fast bowler has featured in that many games.

When our fast bowlers are breaking down frequently barely lasting a full series, they have a lot to learn from Anderson who has gone onto achieve some remarkable feats.

Let’s enjoy Anderson’s skills for one last time.



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Cricket needs to address discipline issues

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by Rex Clementine

There’s a lot of respect for Virat Kohli’s batsmanship but still, lot of people don’t like his attitude. But if you ask the Indian press about his work ethic and diet routines, you will realize that what makes him the player he is, the discipline that he has brought into his lifestyle. India last played a Test series here in 2017. The team hotel’s gym opens at 6am apparently but when King Kohli is in town, the gym has to be opened at 5 in the morning. Butter chicken and naan roti are north Indian favourite menus but the Delhi born Kohli keeps them away when he’s involved in a series – home or away.

How much we Sri Lankans hope that we get a cricketer with that kind of work ethic. We did have one by the name of Kumar Sangakkara and that’s why he reached the peaks that no other Sri Lankan had ever reached. He was the only Sri Lankan batsman to be ranked number one in Tests for a record period of time.

Mind you this was at a time when the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting were going all guns blazing. But none could match Sanga’s consistency. Such a shame that some of his best years were spent at Surrey and not in Sri Lankan colours.

The Danushka Gunathilaka episode in Australia shamed an entire nation. As we tried to point out time and again the system was too soft on Danushka when he got into trouble in the past. We are not a nation that is capable of nipping things in the bud. As if what happened in Sydney weren’t bad, this week two other players are in the news for the wrong reasons. This time it’s the Royal boys.

Chamika Karunaratne was fined US$ 5000 (peanuts for someone with an IPL deal) and then handed a suspended sentence of one year. The incident that had got him into trouble wasn’t mentioned but he is said to have pleaded guilty to the charges. According to reports, he is supposed to have picked up a fight at a Brisbane casino. Let the young man be reminded that Australia is not the kind of place to pick up fights at casinos. If he wants to know why let him go and find out how David Hookes died.

Less than 48 hours after the announcement of Karunaratne being fined came the news that his Royal College colleague Bhanuka Rajapaksa was withdrawing from the three match ODI series. Rajapaksa said in a twitter message that he was withdrawing to recover and refresh both physically and mentally. He also added that he had been playing with a few niggles and went onto say that being away from home had been a strain mentally.

Surprisingly, the board gave him the cold shoulder. Ideally, it is they who make these announcements and not the player. So, there are lots of questions coming out of the episode. Here’s a player who has not cemented his place in ODI squad and he’s withdrawing putting his place in the World Cup squad in jeopardy.

His health conditions must be respected, of course yes. But could we have saved the trouble by doing all this before going to Kandy. The talk at Maitland Place though is something different. That is the board wasn’t too keen to give him an NOC to play league cricket in another part of the world. This may have been Bhanuka’s way of teaching the board a lesson.

Seriously, no individual is bigger than the game. The board must put their foot down and make sure that their players behave. Sometimes the board is helpless as Royal College boys run to uncle Sagala. Others of course have the blessings of Harin aiya and Namal aiya.

We have been at times too soft on players. We have got a lot to learn from people like Rienzie T. Wijetilleke, the former board chairman. He was a banker and not a cricketer, but he knew the value of discipline.

When Kaushal Lokuarrachi was involved in a hit and run, Wijetilleke put his foot down and taught him a good lesson. More than the punishment you admired his statement. When the press asked for a comment, he said that accidents can happen, but you cannot run away from it. You’ve got to own up your mistakes. All respect to ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga for proving to us that bankers also can run a sports body. All what you need is discipline, transparency and honesty. Wijetilleke had them in plenty. And he chose his running mates carefully; S. Skandakumar, Sidath Wettimuny and Kushil Gunasekara. There couldn’t have been a better team than that.

During the World Cup, Sri Lanka’s players were too relaxed. Partying and late-night outs are not new when players go to places like Australia, England or New Zealand. It has been happening for ages. As someone pointed out, the drinking culture in Sri Lankan cricket dates back to Sathasivam’s time.

The difference between Sri Lankan players who went on tours then and now is that they practiced the 11th commandment – do it but don’t get caught. Nowadays they are not only breaching contractual obligations but are proudly announcing them on social media too.

Jeffrey Vanderay, Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Kumara, Niroshan Dickwella are all serial offenders and sometimes watching them closely will tell you a lot about their conduct. How else would you explain Dickwella not having a Test match hundred after nearly 100 innings? Some of the ways he gets out while on 90s are ridiculous. And he has no remorse about it whatsoever. If Duleep Mendis had been the Manager, he would have not allowed the batsman to enter the dressing room. Had Abu Fuard been there, he would have told Dickwella to take the next train from Galle and go back all the way to Kandy and wouldn’t have played him again. Amal Silva is a case in point.

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Moose Clothing Partners with Sri Lanka Cricket for Afghanistan’s tour of Sri Lanka 2022

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As an ardent supporter of the game of cricket, Moose Clothing Company, Sri Lanka’s youthful and trendy clothing brand has once again pledged to support Sri Lanka Cricket as the Official Overseas Sponsor of Afghanistan’s tour of Sri Lanka in November 2022. The 1st ODI match took place on 25th November while the second match is taking place today and the third on 30th November. All matches are scheduled to be held at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Commenting on this committed sporting partnership, Moose Clothing Company CEO Hasib Omar stated: “We are especially glad to partner with Sri Lanka Cricket as the official Overseas Team Sponsor for this upcoming tour with Afghanistan which will prove to be quite an interesting one for the sporting fans. Carrying forward the thrill and excitement of the game, as a brand we are dedicated to support Sri Lanka Cricket and are looking forward to achieving a mutually beneficial partnership whilst contributing towards the country’s wellbeing to the best of our abilities.”

Moose Clothing Company have on several occasions continuously partnered with Sri Lanka Cricket at varying capacities to sponsor the National Cricket team including the most recently concluded T20 World Cup series. Understanding that sports is an integral part of people’s lives, Moose Clothing Company is keen to support the game of Cricket as means of generating unity and positivity among the people.

Identified and established as an international clothing brand which delivers exceptional value, Moose Clothing Company has expanded their footprint globally taking their products into newer territories in global markets. The brand strives to continue to look at further expansions with the intention of taking Sri Lankan clothing to the global arena and achieving international acclamation.

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Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first male player to score in 5 World Cups

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Cristiano Ronaldo made history Thursday as the first male player to score in five World Cups in Portugal’s opening game in Qatar against Ghana.The Portugal captain scored in the 65th minute from the penalty spot — the 118th goal for his country — to open the scoring at Doha’s Stadium 974. Portugal went on to win 3-2 as goals from Joao Felix and Rafael Leao helped them weather two late efforts from Ghana.

Ronaldo, 37, is the most prolific goal scorer in men’s international football and has made a record 18 appearances for Portugal at a World Cup.

“It’s a beautiful moment, in my fifth World Cup. We won, we started off on the right foot, a very important victory,” Ronaldo said of the milestone. “We know that in these competitions winning the first game is crucial. Another record too, the only player to score in five consecutive World Cups, that for me it is a reason of great pride.

“I am very happy for the team to have given an excellent performance. Difficult, but fair win.

“The important thing was that the team won. The Manchester United chapter is closed, and the focus is solely and exclusively on the World Cup. As I said, we wanted to start off on the right foot. We won, we played well, I helped the team. Everything else is not important. The important thing is the national team.”

His latest landmark comes after he left Manchester United by “mutual agreement” earlier this week following an explosive TV interview in which he criticised the club and coach Erik ten Hag.The forward made his Portugal debut in 2003 and scored his first goal 10 months later during a Euro 2004 group stage game against Greece.

His first World Cup goal, in 2006, was from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win over Iran. His next World Cup goal came four years later in South Africa in a 7-0 rout of North Korea. Ronaldo also scored in Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but his side faced disappointment as they were eliminated in the group stage.

The first player to score in five World Cups, men’s or women’s, was Marta in 2019, and Christine Sinclair matched the feat that same year.Ronaldo’s most successful World Cup campaign was in 2018 in Russia, where he scored four goals, including a hat trick in a 3-3 draw with Spain. The last of those goals came in the 88th minute, a 25-yard free-kick that flew into the top left corner past United teammate David de Gea.

Portugal’s best performance with Ronaldo was the 2006 World Cup, when they finished fourth.By scoring in Thursday’s Group H game against Ghana, his eighth goal at a World Cup, he is one strike from equalling the country’s record in the competition, set by Portugal legend Eusebio. Eusebio helped Portugal reach third place at the 1966 World Cup in London, where he finished as the top scorer with nine goals.

Ronaldo’s finest hour in international football came when he captained Portugal to Euro 2016 glory against hosts France with a 1-0 victory. It was Portugal’s first major title, and it was followed by UEFA Nations League glory three years later.Cristiano Ronaldo wrote on Instagram: “Very important win in our World Cup opener but nothing is won! It was just the first step! We remain focused on the pursuit of our objectives. Strength Portugal!”

(ESPN)

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