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Fitness under scrutiny as Sri Lanka begin training  




by Rex Clementine

There’s been a lot said  and written on fitness levels of Sri Lanka’s cricketers in recent days. A fitness test scheduled for  last week was delayed after the players were forced to self  quarantine with top order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne and Head Coach Mickey Arthur testing positive for COVID-19. Thirimanne had attended cricketer Sadeera Samarawickrama’s wedding and  his close contacts were made to stay indoors.

The players and support staff were made to go through PCR tests before they could resume training and after all tests returned negative,  health authorities have given them the green light to go ahead with training.

The players’ skin folds will be tested today along with other fitness measures. Skin folds  are an indicator of total amount of body fat.

But the biggest  attention will be on the two kilometer run that has been introduced as a new  fitness  measure. The two kilometer run will take place on Saturday evening and the players will have to complete the distance in eight minutes and 35 seconds.

Several probables for the West Indies tour had failed the fitness test a fortnight ago while one-day opener Avishka Fernando had failed the fitness test twice  in the space of ten days.

Sri Lanka Cricket had promised to address the issue of poor fitness levels among players firmly; earlier indicating that anyone who fails the fitness test will be ineligible for selections. The board also has threatened to cut down on players’ salary if anyone failed a fitness test. The board also pulled out No Objection Certificates (NOC) for some contracted players to take part in a franchise tournament in UAE.

The more scientific approach seems to be that if someone failed a fitness test, he would be given a month long period to prove himself. A second failure will result in a player being made unavailable for selections.

With most players having had little time to train during their self quarantine period at home, they will be hoping for more leniency from the coaching staff.

SLC said that the squad will resume training on the 16th of February with the hope of taking part in the tour of West Indies. The details of the tour are being discussed with Cricket West Indies. The teams are set to play two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s in the Caribbean.

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Akeesha, Movindi win U14 doubles title



SSC Open Ranking Tennis

Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando won the Under-14 girls doubles title while Anandians Ransath Peiris and Hasal Ahangama and Ave Maria Convent’s Vishmi Serasinghe registered crucial wins in the singles before the evening proceedings of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament was affected by rain on Monday.

Akeesha Silva and Movindi Fernando beat Inuki Jayaweera and Melasha Randini to clinch the Under 14 girls’ doubles title. They overcame a set defeat to win the trophy scoring 1-4, 4-2, 11-9.

Ransath Peiris and Hasal Ahangama won their respective semi-finals to make it an all Ananda final in the Under-18 boys’ singles.

While Peiris fought back from a set defeat to beat Anujaya Abeywickrama, Ahangama triumphed over Mateesh Nettasinghe in straight sets.

In the Under-18 girls’ singles semis Serasinghe beat Ruvi Lewkebandara 6-3, 3-6, 10-5, while Nelani Jayasuriya and Anithra Dharmarathne were set all in their match when rain prevented further play.


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RTC conducts successful Mock Race ahead of April Season



Honourious, the Class I horse from the Fearless Stables and Stud Farm after finishing first in the third and final race with the jockey K. Sanjeewan, trainers S.V. Mathialagan and owner.

Royal Turf Club (RTC) made a rousing launch to their upcoming Horse Racing Festival 2021 with the Mock Race at the Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya, where the Fearless Stables and Stud Farm made an impressive warm-up leading up to the three-race event.

Fearless Stables and Stud Farm runners Honourius and Spirited Touch, both ridden by jockey K. Sanjeewan, were placed first in the second and third races, while Santos, ridden by S.D. Janaka and owned by the Edwards Stables, claim the top spot in the first race of the day.

The RTC Mock Race 2021 was held successfully last weekend at the Racecourse in Nuwara Eliya with three races involving 14 runners. The horses and jockeys had a deserving outing with full canter on the RTC Mock Race day, an event that was held after almost one year, following restrictions and guidelines issued by health and government authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mock Race was entirely organised and conducted by RTC President Nihara Jayatilleke and RTC Treasurer Nisitha Rupasinghe following the guidance and instructions given by RTC officials – Chief Executive Officer – Wayne Wood from Australia, Chief Stipendiary Steward – Cyrus J. Madan from India – Jamil Soobratty from the Mauritius.

Five runners competed in the first race in which Santos, ridden by S.D. Janaka came in first ahead of Carlton (S. Dinesh), Olive (K. Sanjeewan), Glittering (P. Dinesh) and Silver Streak (L. Dayalan).

Spirited Touch, ridden by K. Sanjeewan, finished first among four runners in the second race of the day.

Star Scholar (S. Dinesh), Roseworld (P. Dinesh) and Arabian Gold (S.D. Janaka) followed behind.

Honourius, ridden by K. Sanjeewan, came in first after trailing as the tail ender with a brilliant run to give a fitting finale for the day. Others who followed behind are Torpedo (L. Dayalan), Night King (S. Dinesh), Krabi (P. Dinesh) and Goldi Girl (S.D. Janaka) in the final race that wrapped up a successful Mock Race.

RTC expects to conduct a race day during March and three race days during the April Holiday Season, which will include the legendary Governor’s Cup on the day following the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The Mock Race was an opportunity given to stables and its horses and jockeys to have a full-canter practice run prior to the main races, as runners were held up for nearly a year without any competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Former pacie refuses apology

by Rex Clementine

Former fast bowling great Chaminda Vaas and Sri Lanka Cricket seem to have buried the hatchet and there is a possibility of the nation’s most successful fast bowler returning as a coach soon but SLC seems to be insisting on Vaas agreeing to issue a public apology before he could be roped in, again.

When Vaas withdrew as Sri Lanka’s Fast Bowling Coach hours before the tour of West Indies last month, SLC attacked the bowler in public. The board’s move was severely criticized by cricket fans and even leading businessman and former SLC Chairman Hemaka Amarasuriya wrote to this paper in support of Vaas.

The bone of contention was SLC refusing to heed to Vaas’ demand of paying him US$ 5000 for the tour. The board had later claimed that it had offered Rs. 750,000 but this had not been put in writing and leading SLC officials had even refused to give Vaas a meeting.

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa had defended SLC’s action in Parliament but after full media exposure of behind the door happenings, Rajapaksa had softened his stance and had even met Vaas. It was following this meeting that SLC chief Shammi Silva had met Vaas, The Island learns. It was not clear whether the Sports Ministry had requested SLC to bring Vaas back on board.

“Vaas is contracted with SLC and there are protocols that he has to follow. Clearly he has breached these protocols and we would have been more than happy had he negotiated his terms after the tour,” an SLC official said when contacted by The Island.  The official, however, agreed that the controversial press release issued by the board was highly unnecessary. “We shouldn’t have washed dirty linen in public,” he added.

SLC is willing to accommodate  Vaas  but in the fresh media release they wanted to issue, the board had asked Vaas to agree to add words such as that he ‘repented and  regretted’ his actions. Vaas, one of five Sri Lankans to play over 100 Tests matches, was not available for comment. However, a  former Sri Lanka cricketer who played with him for more than ten years told The Island that Vaas would rather beg on the streets than ‘regret and repent’ his actions.

When Vaas pulled out of the tour of West Indies, some SLC officials had claimed that he was doing so in order to take part in the ongoing Masters series in India. However, that has been proven wrong as Vaas has remained in Colombo although several former Sri Lankan players travelled to India.

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