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Fitness under scrutiny as Sri Lanka begin training  

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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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New Zealand spinners dent Bangladesh on Day 1

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Glenn Phillips was the star of New Zealand's bowlers with a four-fer

New Zealand’s plan of beating Bangladesh at their own game at home – has started off well, even as Bangladesh got to 310 runs on Day 1 in Sylhet. Glenn Phillips turned up to be the hero for the visitors as he picked four wickets, while Ish Sodhi and Ajaz Patel accounted for three more, as Bangladesh lost nine wickets on the opening day.

Bangladesh ended up on the right side of the toss and as expected decided to pile on the runs. Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Zakir Hasan even saw off 10 overs of fast bowling before the latter became the first of the seven casualties to spin bowling. Ajaz Patel slipped a quicker one through that beat Zakir’s attempt to cut and hit the off-stump. Najmul Hossain Shanto arrived with the intention of throwing New Zealand’s spinners off their rhythm as he took on Ajaz. However, Bangladesh’s woes began right at the end of the opening session when Shanto miscued an innocuous full-toss from Phillips while giving him the charge, and hit to Kane Williamson at mid-on.

Mahmudul and Mominul Haque led Bangladesh’s recovery, even as they survived a couple of nicks that flew between the New Zealand slip cordon. The pair batted out majority of the second session, establishing a solid base for Bangladesh to construct a big innings on, with a stand worth 88 runs but once again, Phillips put a spanner in the works with the wicket of Mominul.

He too, like Shanto against Ajaz, went for a cut on a ball that wasn’t there for that shot and ended up nicking it to Tom Blundell behind the stumps. Soon after, Ish Sodhi got the well-set Mahmudul to nick one behind towards Daryl Mitchell at slip, who did extremely well to get his hands under the ball while diving to his right. Bangladesh went to Tea at 184 for 4, and then spiralled even further in the post-Tea session as the ball started to turn a lot more as the day went on.

To their credit, all of the lower-order batters for Bangladesh got starts but none could carry on till stumps to give Bangladesh the early upper hand in the fixture. Mushfiqur Rahim and Shahadat Hossain dragged Bangladesh past the 200-run mark but once again Phillips broke through with the former’s wicket. Mushfiqur gave Phillips the charge and went big, but mistimed it to Williamson at mid-on.

Mehidy Hasan Miraz looked solid for his 20 until a bout of indecision led to him edging one from Kyle Jamieson to Daryl Mitchell at slips. Bangladesh then lost wickets for every 20-odd runs they added as they went from 233 for 6 to 290 for 9.

New Zealand’s hopes of wrapping up the innings on Day 1 didn’t come through though as Taijul Islam and Shoriful Islam batted out 3.1 overs and hit four boundaries in them to take the team past 300. Bad light then intervened, bringing a slightly early end to the day’s proceedings with 85 overs bowled. New Zealand will head back with the joy of having spun a web around Bangladesh’s batting order, but with the surface getting better for spinners, their real progress in the fixture will depend on how well they bat.

Brief Scores:
Bangladesh 310/9 (Mahmudul Hasan Joy 86, Najmul Hossain Shanto 37, Mominul Haque 37; Glenn Phillips 4-53, Ajaz Patel 2-76) vs New Zealand

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Shooting the Messenger

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Roshan Ranasinghe

by Rex Clementine

History is full of instances where the messenger who brings the bad news face dire consequences. Many kings over the years have adopted this tactic in ancient times and rulers in the modern democracy are no different. Roshan Ranasinghe suffered a similar fate hours after revealing shocking details of corruption in Parliament as he was removed from his post as Minister of Sports, Youth Affairs and Irrigation.

The suspension that the international Cricket Council has imposed on Sri Lanka Cricket and shifting of next year’s Under-19 World Cup from Colombo to Johannesburg may have gone against the Polonnaruwa District MP.

But, what about the gentlemen who requested the ICC to suspend Sri Lanka Cricket? One is intrigued. Government appointed bodies have run cricket in places like Pakistan, South Africa and Afghanistan in recent times, but they were not penalized. So why Sri Lanka? Well, the reason being that it was SLC’s Executive Committee that asked the ICC Board to authorize the suspension. So, if Ranasinghe can be sacked for Sri Lanka’s suspension, should not the guys who requested the suspension suffer a similar fate?

It must be recalled that this Executive Committee of SLC has survived because a son of a VVIP Podujana Peramuna Politician protected their backs and went to the extent of issuing a back dated letter saving their skins. Those who sought political intervention then are now complaining when the tide has turned against them.

The trend in cricket circles is to get hold of the Sports Minister as soon as he is appointed and to keep him happy. Barring Mangala Samaraweera, Naveen Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma all Sports Minister in the last 20 years have played ball with the cricket establishment.

Roshan Ranasinghe took them on and learned a bitter lesson. However, he should not feel disappointed. All right-minded Sri Lankans have appreciated his courage to speak against what is wrong and put cricket back on track. Sadly, we are living in times where clean men are sent home and crooks go places.

Cricket of course is not covering itself in glory. In the last three years, the national cricket team has played three Qualifying Round Tournaments. Sri Lanka finished ninth in the recent World Cup and are out of the Champions Trophy. The sport has been mismanaged and there is an urgent need for change. Sadly, the cricket bosses are friends with some powerful men in government circles and sport may well suffer more humiliations moving forward.

The government is also toying with public anger. There is disappointment in every Sri Lankan for the manner in which the national cricket team has performed in recent past and discipline among players has eroded beyond repair. Authorities seem not to care.

The Easter Sunday carnage and UNP’s inability to prevent it in 2019 brought them a humiliating defeat in the last General Elections. Such was public anger that the UNP wasn’t able to win a single seat and had to settle for one national list seat.

Messing up the cricket and playing ball with gentlemen who have brought the sport to its knees is going to bring far worse consequences to the ‘Grand Old Party’.

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Lumbini encounter formidable Thurstan

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Lumbini College Team

Under 19 Division 1 Tier B Limited Overs Cricket Final

Thurstan had to be content with the runner up title when they appeared in the final at the last edition. They will be looking forward to make amends when they take on Lumbini in the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘B’ Limited Overs Tournament final at the Surrey Village ground Maggona today.

Thurstan captained by Vihas Thewmika took sweet revenge against defending champions St. Peter’s in the semi-final after edging out Dharmaraja in the quarter-final. After conceding defeat at the hands of Lumbini in the group stage Thurstan will be eager to defy them in the final.

On the other hand, Lumbini captained by Sahan Kaushalya are seeking their first title in two decades.

After reaching the knockout stage as the runners up to Thurstan in their group Lumbini eliminated St. Aloysius’ and Ananda to secure the final spot.

Thurstan College Team

Teams

Thurstan (from):

Vihas Thewmika (Captain), Shanikya Deshapriya, Navindu Fernando, Thanuga Palihawadana, Vidath Balsooriya, Thanuja Rajapakshe, Ramika Sonal, Gagana Perera, Minuga Jathunga, Thalisha Nanayakkara, Rachintha de Silva, Rison Jansen, Yovun Silpa, Adithya Isuranga, Sethru Fernando, Vishwa Dhananjaya, Lasindu Punsara, Mulitha De Costa, Pathum Dananjaya, Nethupul Lasanda, Harith Shalaka Thiwantha, Dinul Perera.

Officials:

Malaka Jayasinghe (Master in Charge), Tharindu Karunarathne (Sports Coordinator), Suneth Gunathilake (Head Coach), Heshan Thilakarathne (Asst coach), Sonal Elwalage (Asst. Coach), Rusira Munasinghe (Asst. Coach)

Lumbini (from):

Sahan Kaushalya (Captain), Gihan Lakshitha, Nisal Madhushan, Binuja Pramodya, Dinitha Prabhanka, Ashan Shanilka, Ushan Sathsara, Praveen Maneesha, Yuran Sandika,Yashod Kavindu, Vishwa Bandara, Subashith Dinudika, Janindu Lahiru, Nabeel Rajudeen, Dumindu Sewmina, Ishath Dilshan, Bahsika Sethmina, Dinal Sewmina, Pasindu Maneesha.

Officials:

Panduka De Silva (Master in Charge), Dinesh Weerasinghe (Head Coach), Lalanga Rajapaksha (Asst. Coach)

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