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How cricket can help overcome Lanka’s foreign reserve woes

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by Rex Clementine

There are some concerns about the national economy with former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe raising alarm about diminishing foreign reserves. Listening to the UNP leader one recalls the pithy local saying, ‘bale thiyanakota mole ne, mole thiyanakota bale ne’ (when one has power one has no brains, and vice versa). Under his watch, men in three piece suits put professional banker robbers to shame; they walked away with billions of rupees in the form of fraudulently obtained Treasury bonds.

The great game of cricket helps take a man’s mind out of his troubles and if properly utilized, and could solve our foreign reserves crisis as well.

The upcoming six-match limited overs series will see Sri Lanka Cricket earning as much as US$ 12 million as television revenue. SLC sources inform us that maintaining several bio-secure bubbles for players, coaching staff, match officials and ground staff will be costly, but the board is sure earn a profit of at least US$ 10 million.

Indian cricket is a cash cow and if our government is able to negotiate with Narendra Modi’s government and play an extended series, we may be able to overcome our foreign currency woes to some extent. Cricket’s most powerful man at present Jay Shah, the Secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India, is the son of Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs and PM Modi’s right-hand man.

Imagine India playing five Tests, seven ODIs and seven T-20s in Sri Lanka, something that has been never ever tried before. That’s close to 40 days of cricket and SLC’s profit will be so huge that it will be able to pay for the PCR tests on the poor scribes.

A little known fact is that BCCI has bailed SLC out many a time. There have been instances where BCCI came down hard on us as in 2008, when the SLC stepped out of line. Those running Indian cricket from Madras reached out our Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge and wanted the administration changed. The board was sacked in less than 24 hours and India honoured its word by sending down their team for a bilateral tour. That was the moment, the world got to know about someone who answers to the name of N. Srinivasan. Lessons were learnt. Never cross the path of the man fondly known among cricket fans as Srini mama.

That Minister Lokuge ran the affairs of the cricket board through his Ministry Secretary and entered into a television agreement with a blacklisted company is a different story. True to form, the company defaulted payment. It was yet another investigation that the Yahapalana government swept under the carpet.

That Sri Lanka will not win a single game in this six-match series is quite a possibility. Many have said that this is a second string team but then, India is far more experienced than Sri Lanka. Two of their players have featured in more than 100 ODIs while three others have played in more than 50 ODIs. For Sri Lanka Dhananjaya de Silva with 50 ODIs under his belt is the most experienced. Kusal Janith Perera could miss the series due to a shoulder injury.

The result of this series will matter little for those who are running the sport. More importantly, they would want to see the series being completed, for the windfall from this tour is important to be invested in the development of the game and running it.

At times, you feel compelled not to do everything that India wants you to do. But we have so much to gain by having India on our side. Even bigger boards like England and Australia have fallen in line with India. However much you dislike the Big Three concept, you have got to bite the bullet, set aside your ego and move with times. That SLC seems to be doing cleverly in spite of its many failings.

One is reminded of Kerry Packer’s last words to Australian cricket chief Bob Parish and his Secretary Alan Barnes before he took them on, ‘Gentlemen, there is a wee bit of whore in all of us. How much do you want?’



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Straight bats and brickbats

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Rex Clementine at Pallekele

People who never in their lives played with a straight bat want us to embrace ethics. Sportsmen all over the world are taught to maintain ethical behaviour although there have been few exceptions.

Australians play sport so tough that they hate losing. They are friendly people but they suffer from what people call ‘white line fever’. That means once they cross the boundary rope, they are a different beast. Certain eastern European countries are accused of providing dope to their athletes in a bid to win medals at showpiece events like the Olympics. At home, we have the classic example of Fr. Trevor Martin of St. Peter’s who adopted a win at any cost culture that prompted some to comment that Fr. Le Goc, a French Missionary and the founder Rector of St. Peter’s, must be spinning in his grave.

Sports teach you more things than winning. It teaches you to remain grounded. It inculcates the virtues of patience and perseverance. It helps you to build an attitude of hanging in there. It reminds you to be gracious in defeat and humble in victory. These are lessons that will stand you in good stead in life where you meet success and failures to a good share.

Those who have not played the sport in the right way when they were young are the ones who play spoil sport when they grow up. For example, we have a person who thought that carrying the captain’s bag would earn him a place in the side rather than talent alone. Eventually, he ended up playing more games than the wickets he took. Now he is talking of ethics in sport.

The same person plotted a bloodless coup to bring down Ashantha de Mel, who in his twin role as Manager cum Chairman of Selectors had to leave sooner than he was supposed to.

Then having ousted de Mel, the straight bat sought political intervention to get to the powerful position. General Shavendra Silva who had the final say in nominating people to sports bodies vehemently opposed. However, there was too much political pressure to ignore Mr. Straight Bat.

You may not have agreed with Ashantha all the time, but he had one virtue that is to explain his decisions and his expectations. When his methods didn’t work, he was the first one to owe up to his mistakes.

De Mel had little idea that men in his own committee were leaking information. Now the same men who adopted underarm tactics to seize power are preaching about straight bats.

The only thing they know in life and sports are brickbats and if they have got no skeletons to hide let them come openly and explain their decisions. Their flawed policies may have cost Sri Lanka automatic qualification for the next year’s World Cup. Let them be held accountable.

The same people who boast about the Asia Cup win and being ranked third in the Test championship have conveniently forgotten that under their watch Sri Lanka lost Mohali and Bangalore Tests inside three days. A nation’s reputation was ruined because they didn’t follow the simple rule that an injured player needs to return home without fiddling around dating apps. Having compromised on discipline and fitness, now they are washing their hands off without taking responsibility. Of course, you can talk discipline only with people who have discipline in their lifestyles. Not the ones who assault board officials who are your father’s age. Certainly not from those who cut acres of pristine forest land for banana cultivation or defraud government institutions by going against the tender process.

Cricket more than any other sport, reminds us of fair play and being above board. When people without an iota of self-respect are at the helm what more can we expect.

The same individual ran a campaign against the administration a few years ago with a newly formed body called Cricketers’ Association. He couldn’t win a cricket election so he came through an interim committee promising to look after the retired cricketers, a pension scheme for players, decent salaries for players and much more. Once he got power, all his pledges were forgotten and instead he was at daggers’ drawn with the players themselves.

The Cricketers’ Association was used as cat’s paw to gain power. Once they got the power the body ceased to exist. There’s no active cricketers’ association at present and many are the senior cricketers who have got to go around with the begging bowl to look after their medication and other needs.

Biting off the hand that once fed them is nothing new to these new rich. Their memories of Tichborne Lane have faded fast.

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BRC emerge champions at Malay CC Sixes

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Cup Champions BRC

BRC defeated surprise finalists Colombo Malay Cricket Club (CMCC) by five wickets in the Cup final at the Invitation six-a-side cricket tournament to celebrate CMCC’s 150th anniversary at the MCA ground on Saturday.

Governors’ Trophy winners Malay CC were restricted to 44 for four in five overs. BRC romped to 50 without loss in just 2.3 overs with TM Sampath unbeaten on 42.

Sampath went on to bag the Best Batsman’s prize while Danal Hamananda also of BRC took the Best Bowler’s award.

Malay CC had a dream run to the final defeating CCC in their opening match scoring 61 without loss and 78 for three to beat Colts in the semi-final. However, they could not repeat their heroics in the final against some accurate bowling from BRC.

There were many good hits over the ropes that thrilled the sparse crowd and many cricket balls that were sent well past the boundary were lost.

Avishka Perera of Colts too made some big hits and hit an unbeaten 50 off just 20 balls in a losing cause against Malay CC in the Cup semi-final.

The victorious BRC team comprised TM Sampath, Dushan Hemantha, Lahiru Samarakoon, Leo Francisco, Danal Hemananda, Resansora Silva, Malinda Jayod and Dulaj Ashen.

Meanwhile, SSC clinched the Plate title when they beat Moors SC by five wickets in the final.

Moors SC scored 66 for four and SSC notched up the winning runs in four overs scoring 68 without loss with Krishan Sanjula cracking 37 and Shevon Daniel 16.

Cup runners-up CMCC

Scores

First round

SSC 83/1

(Shevon Daniel 19, Nipun Dananjaya 28, Krishan Sanjula 22) lost to Colts CC 84/1 (Shalin de Mel 62)

Malay CC 61/0

(Mangala Pradeep 39) beat CCC 58/4 (Pawan Pathiraja 19, Manidu Shyamal 2/09)

Tamil Union 59/5

(Sachith Pathirana 30, Dushan Hemantha 2/2) lost to BRC 62/4 (Danal Hemananda 29, Ravindu Fernando 2/14)

Moors SC 58/5

(Sohan de Livera 13, Asel Sigera 2/5) lost to NCC 59/2 (Asel Sigera 23)

Plate Semi-finals

CCC 50/5

(Pavan Ratnayake 23, Keshan Wijeratne 2/5) lost to SSC 53/3 (Vinushka Silva 2/10)

CMCC Cricket Secretary Thassim Junkeer presenting the Best Batsman award to TM Sampath of BRC.

Moors SC 90/1

(Dinuka Dilshan 38) beat Tamil Union 63/3 (Ravindu Fernando 33, Dinuka Dilshan 2/9)

Plate Final

Moors 66/4

(Thilan Loransu 14, Kalana Perera 2/3) lost to SSC 68/0 (Krishan Sanjula 37)

Cup Semi-finals

Malay CC 78/3

(Kalana Madushanka 35, Niman Umesh 21) beat Colts CC 70/2 (Avishka Perera 50, Mangala Pradeep 2/7)

NCC 80/3

(Asel Sigera 35, Danal Hemananda 2/5) lost to BRC 83/0 (TM Sampath 41 no)

Cup Final

Malay CC 44/4

(Mangala Pradeep 14) lost to BRC 50/0 (TM Sampath 42)

Special Awards:

Best Batsman –

TM Sampath (BRC)

Best Bowler –

Danal Hemananda (BRC)

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Mahinda battle against unbeaten Petes for final spot

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Under 19 Division I Tier ‘B’ Cricket

Unbeaten St. Peter’s will encounter Mahinda in the top semi-final of the Under 19 Division I Tier ‘B’ cricket tournament at Thurstan College ground today.

St. Peter’s, eliminated Mahinda in the quarter-final on their way to winning the title last season. The team from Galle will be eager to make amends against a team looking to extend their unbeaten run to the final.

Captained by Nimuthu Gunawardana, St. Peter’s earned a hard fought ten runs victory in the quarter-final. That was after their batsmen failed to impress against Devapathiraja. The Petes could post just 122 runs in the quarter-final which was played as a 27 overs a side affair.

In contrast, Mahinda registered comprehensive seven wickets win after rattling St. Servatius’ for 100 runs. They were the runners up to Maris Stella in their group in the first round. The team captained by Dhanuja Induwara had six victories in eight outings at the end of the first round.

St. Peter’s were the champions in their group after having registered eight victories during the first round.

Teams

St. Peter’s (from):

Nimuthu Gunawardana (Captain), Sanshay Gunatilake, Vishen Halambage, Oween Salgado, Rusanda Gamage, Shennon Rodrigo, Kavika Jayasundara, Lashmika Perera, Nathen David, Lakindu Sachin, Sean Robert, Ishira Ayupala, Dilana Damsara, Salith Gallage, Nitesh Fernando, Rithil Suraweera, Anupa Garumanne, Chamindu Perera.

Officials:

Shanaka Fernando (Head Coach), Manjuka Perera (Asst. Coach), Sunanda Fernando (Master in Charge)

Mahinda (from):

Dhanuja Induwara (Captain), Dinura Kalupahana (Vice Captain), Hiruna Gallage, Ranmina Hettiarachchi, Hareen Achintha, Tharushan Dilshan, Chandupa de Silva, Shehan Hasaranga, Kaveen Rukshan, Pramesh Madubhashana, Dulana Rajapaksha, Ranindu Nimsara, Arosha Udayanga, Deneth Kaushalya, Pasindu Lakshan, Senuka Dangamuwa, Ninura Deelaka, Kaveesha Gimsara, Vinupa Nethmira, Sahanjith Samadith.

Officials:

M.M. Tharanga (Head Coach), Sulalith Shamendra (Asst. Coach), Y. Nishantha Kumara (Master in Charge).

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