By a Special Sports Correspondent
Sri Lanka’s legendary rugby player Hisham Abdeen has been actively involved with the sport played with the oval shaped ball for over five decades. That could be something to celebrate given all the gloom and the doom brought to us sportsmen and sports lovers via the pandemic.
In an interview with ‘The Island’ newspaper done at his second home-Havelocks Sports Club- the 61 year old recalled his heydays on the field and what he felt about the future of rugby union in Sri Lanka.
Abdeen said that it’s of prime importance to get the players mentally ready after the pandemic because the ‘break’ from the game was forced on the players and wasn’t voluntary. “They have missed so much and some couldn’t play for their schools in the final year of academic studies. It’s good if Sri Lanka Rugby can arrange an under 21 tournament for the benefit of all those players who missed the last year of school rugby,” said Abdeen who has again started running his academy called Hisham Abdeen Rugby Football Academy (HARFA). As many as 75 players from this academy have represented the First XV teams of their schools and around 10 players have represented the country.
There was a time when the trend of bulking up using power training and loading on supplements made rugby a brutally contact game. But then despite the doors being opened up for spectators after the third wave of Covid patrons are not very keen on witnessing games; this is probably because of the predictable nature of matches. “There are too many hits and players lack individual skills. Very rarely do we see today a player being able to kick with both legs, punt the ball or kick a grubber,” said Abdeen. According him players of his era invested much time on personal training to lift their skills and the game.
Despite having so much credentials in the game Abdeen has stuck with schoolboy players and university undergraduates when choosing his assignments as a coach. This could be because he pays special attention and emphasis on making the players grasp the basics of the game. The other factor he focuses is on fitness. “Fit players rarely get injured,” underscored Abdeen.
We can remember how Abdeen shone for his schools-initially for Zahira and then for Isipathana College. He played for Havelocks SC as a schoolboy in 1979 and the following season (1980) he stamped his class in the school season by scoring 25 tries wearing the green jersey. This type of achievement where a schoolboy plays for a club while still being in school is rarely heard of. When Abdeen made it to the Havelocks SC side he had to play as a second row forward because the Park Club’s third row was occupied by dazzling players in the likes of Jeff de Jong, Anjelo Wickremaratne and Geoffrey Yu. There were days when he was a marked man. But on a day where he had everything coming right for him he scored eight fabulous tries. That performance came against Army SC at Longden Place. That performance was equaled by Army’s Sithara Fernando in an A Division club rugby game many years later.
Abdeen’s power came probably through the training he did and thanks to his favourite meal-rice and curry. He was a fitness fanatic and trained beyond the capacity of the average club rugby player. As for the rice he ate there are so many interesting stories associated with this aspect of his life. “Once at the Hong Kong Sevens in 1983 the BBC journalist, knowing that there were riots in my country, asked me what the problem was and I replied saying that the problem I have right now is that there is no place in Australia where I’m staying where I can have a decent rice and curry meal”. During Abdeen’s time the players were not remunerated for their availability. But he used to tell at least this much, “No rice, No game”.
Abdeen was a freak. He ate what he wanted and trained the way he wished. He never did weights for strength training purposes. He believed in natural fitness, solid technique and perfect timing when bringing down a player twice his size. Players feared Abdeen and when he tackled you just stayed ‘put’ for a while. Several players tried to imitate his walk and copy his playing style but all that proved to be a waste of time. The Abdeen we saw was ‘one and only’ and he could only be appreciated, not copied.
There were other reasons to say that he was a freak. He represented the country in three sports; rugby union (Last tour in 1993), Soccer (last tour in 1986) and sepak takraw (the last tour in the 1990s ). At present sportsmen and women cannot even think doing a second sport because of the demands in any one of the chosen disciplines are so high.
He also had his share of successes as a coach with the national side. He rates the island’s appearance at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2009 as memorable for him as a coach. “Radeeka Hettiarachchi scored twice in the match against Australia and we had a grand tournament that year. There were many new comers to the side during that tour and I was able to guide them to play at the top level,” he said. He was also a national selector for more than ten years. He is also a life member of Sri Lanka Rugby.
Abdeen now concentrates on his academy and serving the game which has given him a tremendous identity. That old saying which underscores the fact that there is a strong woman behind every successful man is fitting to Abdeen’s life story. According to him his wife ‘Jeni’ has been his source of strength and plays a major role in the academy when it comes to handling player registrations at HARFA and parents of players.
Abdeen had so much of successes, but no achievement could make him too big for his boots. Even today he remains humble and available for those who need him. He still enjoys sitting on the bench as a coach and contributing to the game he loves so much. Because individuals like Abdeen know that there is no set amount to give a signal to a player to indicate that he has given back enough to the game.
Anuga, Rajindu shine with centuries
Under 17 Division I Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
Wesley’s Anuga Pahansara and Rajindu Thilakaratna of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia scored match defining centuries as their schools reached the quarter-finals of the Under 17 Division I cricket tournament yesterday.
In the pre-quarter-finals played yesterday, St. Joseph’s, De Mazenod, St. Anthony’s (Wattala), Moratu Vidyalaya, S. Thomas’, Wesley, Mahanama, Gurukula, St. Benedict’s, Mahinda and St. Peter’s registered victories to confirm their places in the quarter-finals of the Division I tournament.
Anuga Pahansara’s century was crucial in setting up the stage for Wesley to post 240 runs before off spinner Rashmika Amararathna and left-arm spinner Jathon Wieman joined to reduce St. Sebastian’s to 117 runs at Moratuwa.
For S. Thomas’ Thilakaratna anchored the batting line up with an unbeaten century (101 runs in 132 balls, 13x4s, 1×6) and put on a fourth wicket stand of 116 runs with Dineth Goonawardena for them to record a five wickets win over President’s College at Kotte.
The day’s lowest score came in the match between St. Joseph’s and Holy Cross as paceman Maanasa Madubashana and spinner Yenula Dewthusa rattled the visitors for 43 runs at Darley Road.
St. Joseph’s beat Holy Cross at Darley Road
Holy Cross 43 all out in 28.2 overs (Akash Gamage 15; Maanasa Madubashana 4/16, Yenula Dewthusa 3/09)
St. Joseph’s 46 for 2 in 8 overs (Sahan Dabare 22)
De Mazenod beat St. Servatius’ at Kandana
St. Servatius ’ 139 all out in 44 overs (Risinu Kithnuka 36, Raveen Kavintha 28n.o.; Jude Shenal 3/37, Thareen Sanketh 3/25)
De Mazenod 143 for 1 in 30 overs (Kenul Dhananjaya 82n.o., Janith Karindra 22, Hasintha Dasunpriya 30n.o.)
St. Anthony’s (Wattala) beat St. Sylvester’s at Lake View Scores:
St. Anthony’s Wattala 148 all out in 48.3 overs (Shehara Dewthilina 21, Chamod Sandeepa 47, Dilanka Madushan 29; Kashyapa Dissanayake 2/35, Thimira Liyanage 4/24, Nimesha Silva 3/31)
St. Sylvester’s 126 all out in 30.3 overs (Yoshitha Isuranga 47, Dilanka Madushan 3/36, Chamod Sandeepa 3/16)
Moratu Vidyalaya beat Thurstan at Moratuwa Scores:
Moratu MV 289 for 6 in 50 overs (Hasindu Senanayaka 41, Deneth Sithumina 87, Dulen Silva 48, Malith Fernando 22, Shehara Fernando 49n.o.; Thanuga Palihawadana
Thurstan 244 for 9 in 50 overs (Kaushala Balasooriya 30, Thanuga Palihawadana 53, Vihas Thewmika 85; Vihanga Nethsara 4/40, Malith Fernando 4/44)
S. Thomas’ beat President’s at Kotte Scores:
Presidents 226 all out in 47.1 overs (Dinal Induwara 61, Tanuja Rajapakse 55, Punsara Nethmina 29, Kaveesha Yashmika 25; Achintha Rumean 3/35, Darien Diego 2/21, Kavindu Dias 2/39, Dineth Goonawardena 2/40
S. Thomas ’ 227 for 5 in 47.3 overs (Rajindu Thilakaratna 101n.o., Dineth Goonawardena 48; Sanithu Nethmina 4/50)
Wesley beat St. Sebastian’s at Moratuwa Scores:
Wesley 240 for 8 in 50 overs (Anuga Pahansara 104, Senila Senarathne 36, Rukshan Tharanga 29, Manuth Samarakoon 28; Malindu Daham 2/43, Maheesha Sithum 2/44)
St. Sebastian’s 117 all out in 42.4 overs (Vihanga Theekashana 47, Venuth Kavimira 28, Rashmika Amararathna 4/07, Jathon Wieman 3/17, Ravindu Sigera 2/29)
St. Peter’s beat Maliyadeva at Kurunegala Scores:
St. Peter’s 247 for 8 in 50 overs (Dilana Damsara 68, Nethan David 35, Ethan Ransiluge 27, Ovin Salgadu 23, Erosh Peterson 27, Sasindu Silva 29n.o.; Thaveesha Balasooriya 3/45, Vinuda Mapa 3/52)
Maliyadewa 205 all out in 48.5 overs (Sandeepa Bandara 66, Vinuda Mapa 42; Lashmika Perera 2/26, Dilana Damsara 3/35, Salith Gallage 3/49)
Mahanama beat Prince of Wales at Moratuwa Scores:
Mahanama 243 for 9 in 50 overs (Dulnith Sigera 59, Gimantha Dissanayake 56, Sithika Kulathunga 24, Uden Rajapaksha 22; Prince Fernando 4/40, Nishel Hewajulige 2/24)
Prince of Wales 159 all out in 39.3 overs (Rivith Jayasuriya 54, Kenul de Zoysa 39, Oshan Maneesha 24; Dulnith Sigera 2/20, Osanda Muthugama 4/20, Sihan Karunarathne 2/25)
St. Benedict’s beat Vidyartha at Kotahena Scores:
Vidyartha 167 for 9 in 50 overs (Pubudu Tharaka 23, Nishmika Kaveesha 57n.o.; Mevan Dissanayake 3/25)
St. Benedict’s 168 for 1 in 49.2 overs (Dumindu Yehen 38, Yohan Edirisinghe 22, Sharujan Shanmuganathan 23, Onesh Michael 29n.o.; Kalana Kumarasiri 4/23)
Gurukula beat St. Anthony’s (Katugastota) at Wattala Scores:
Gurukula 261 for 8 in 50 overs (Thathsara Eshan 80, Pasindu Dilshan 37, Daham Vimukthi 28, Janith Mihiranga 42n.o.; Tharusha Dasun 2/57, Senura Abeysekara 3/37)
St. Anthony’s 127 all out in 34.1 overs (Januka Bandara 34, Dinura Oshan 30; Tharusha Kodikara 3/31, Hiruna Fernando 3/18)
Mahinda beat Maris Stella at Galle Scores:
Maris Stella 187 all out in 47.5 overs (Levin Fernando 55, Mineth Fernando 31; Arosha Udayanga 4/20, Senuka Dangamuwa 2/31, Nikil Jayaweera 2/29)
Mahinda 188 for 5 in 35.1 overs (Nikil Jayaweera 52, Dineth Pahasara 32, Senuka Dangamuwa 50n.o.; Hasthika de Silva 2/27, Ramith Bandara 2/18)
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo join UAE’s ILT20
Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Nicholas Pooran are the latest big names from the Caribbean to sign up for the UAE’s International League T20 (ILT20), along with Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka, England’s Ollie Pope and Afghanistan’s Fazalhaq Farooqi.
The league also said that its six franchises – owned by Reliance Industries, Kolkata Knight Riders, Capri Global, GMR, Lancer Capital, and Adani Sportsline – have finalised contracting players through the “directly acquire players” option, though the details of who has gone to which team is not yet known.
Some of the other latest signings up for the ILT20 are: Will Smeed, Rehan Ahmed, Jordan Thompson, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Bas de Leede, Chris Benjamin and Bilal Khan.
The ILT20 is set to begin in January next year in the UAE and is competing with South Africa’s T20 League for players.
On August 8, the ILT20 had announced its first list of signed players which included Andre Russell, Moeen Ali, Wanindu Hasaranga, Alex Hales, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Jordan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Dawid Malan, Sunil Narine, Evin Lewis, Colin Munro, Fabian Allen, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Dushmantha Chameera, Akeal Hosein, Tom Banton, Sandeep Lamichhane, Rovman Powell, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Lahiru Kumara, Seekugge Prassanna, Charith Asalanka, Isuru Udana, Niroshan Dickwella, Kennar Lewis, Ravi Rampaul, Raymon Reifer, Dominic Drakes, Sherfane Rutherford, Hazratullah Zazai, Qais Ahmad, Noor Ahmed, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Naveen-ul-Haq, Dan Lawrence, Jamie Overton, Liam Dawson, Richard Gleeson, James Vince, Saqib Mahmood, Ben Duckett, Benny Howell, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brandon Glover, Frederick Klaasen, David Wiese, Ruben Trumpelmann, Colin Ingram, George Munsey, Paul Stirling and Ali Khan.
Each squad of 18 will have two players from Associate countries and four players from the UAE.
There have been suggestions that the space for Pakistani players in the league might be limited because franchises owned by IPL owners were wary of picking them for worries of a backlash in India. One ILT20 official said the franchise owned by Lancer Capital – the Glazers family that owns Manchester United – were still hopeful of signing up some Pakistan players, though the official acknowledged that not getting the NOCs from the PCB might be the obstacle. The PCB said in a statement last week that two Pakistan players had applied for NOCs to play in the league but were not granted them because the board expected the players to be involved in Pakistan’s home season.
The 2023 edition of the ILT20 will have 34 matches – all the teams will play each other twice, before four playoffs, including the final – spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Bowlers, Balbirnie steer Ireland to comfortable win
Josh Little, Mark Adair, Curtis Campher and Gareth Delany picked up two wickets each before Andy Balbirnie’s 46 off 36 balls broke the back of a 123-run chase to give Ireland a five-wicket win in the second T20I in Belfast. The hosts now lead the five-match series 2-0.
Afghanistan opted to bat first for the second time in two games but their innings never really took off. Both openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Usman Ghani – were back in the pavilion by the third over. At the end of ten overs, they were hobbling at 62 for 4. The second half of the innings was no different and they finished with 122 for 8. Extras, with 19, the second-highest contributor.
Afghanistan needed early wickets to put Ireland under pressure but Balbirnie ensured that didn’t happen. The target was never going to challenge Ireland, and Afghanistan’s sloppy fielding made their task even easier. That meant despite a late wobble, they won with an over to spare.
For the first time in his T20I career, Rashid Khan went wicketless in back-to-back games. After none for 25 in the first T20I, he ended with none for 27 from his four overs today.
On what Mohammad Nabi described as a dry pitch at the toss, the Ireland seamers found movement as well as extra bounce with the new ball to pick up three wickets in the powerplay.
Adair struck with the first ball of the second over as Gurbaz sliced a full delivery to short third. In the next over, Little got one to jag back in to Ghani. The batter was looking for a cut but was cramped and ended up chopping the ball onto his stumps.
Ibrahim Zadran walked in at No. 4 and tried to up the scoring rate. He took on Barry McCarthy, hitting the seamer for three fours in his first over. In the next over, he steered Campher to the deep-third boundary for his fourth four in nine balls. However, a stunning catch from Andy McBrine cut short his counterattacking knock. Ibrahim tried to loft Curtis over wide long-on on the final ball of the powerplay but ended up miscuing it towards deep midwicket. McBrine sprinted in from the deep and put in a full-length dive to take the ball just above the ground, leaving Afghanistan 41 for 3 at the end of six overs.
Afghanistan needed a partnership to stabilise the innings; instead, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Najibullah Zadran started in his usual positive manner, reverse-sweeping McBrine for a four, but ended up uppercutting Campher straight to deep point soon after. Nabi didn’t last long either and holed out to long-on for 9 against Delany.
Hashmatullah Shahidi did occupy one end but struggled for timing throughout his 42-ball 36. Ironically, when he nailed a reverse sweep, it went straight into the hands of deep point. With Rashid failing to provide any fireworks, Afghanistan could manage only 22 from the last four overs.
Ireland lost Paul Stirling early in their chase and were 8 for 1 after three overs, but Balbirnie struck four fours in the next 11 balls to calm the nerves. A couple of overs later, he swept Mujeeb Ur Rahman in front of square leg for the first six of the match.
Along with Lorcan Tucker, he added 65 off 54 balls for the second wicket; Tucker’s contribution was 19 off 20 balls. Mujeeb eventually broke that stand when Balbirnie attempted a fine sweep but the ball lobbed up off the back of the bat and Gurbaz pouched it.
With 42 required from as many balls, Nabi brought himself on for the first time in the 14th over and made an immediate impact. In the space of four balls, he sent back Harry Tector and Tucker. But his second over, which featured four leg-byes, went for 13. That left Ireland with 20 needed from 24 balls. Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen gave away only 12 in the next two overs, with Farooqi also dismissing Campher. But George Dockrell kept his calm. On the final ball of the 19th over, bowled by Farooqi, he chipped a full toss over wide long-on to seal the game with a six.
Ireland 125 for 5 (Andy Balbirnie 46, Lorcan Tucker 27, Mohammad Nabi 2-15) beat Afghanistan 122 for 8 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 36, Ibrahim Zadran 17, Mark Adair 2-12, Curtis Campher 2-13) by five wickets
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