Former Sri Lanka all-rounder Ruwan Kalpage has been appointed as Head Coach of Emerging team with former opening batsman Avishka Fernando taking over as Head Coach of the ‘A’ team. Jehan Mubarak has been handed the reins of Sri Lanka Under-19 team. The coaching unit of SLC has seen several key changes being made bringing in expertise of retired former cricketers.
Kalpage brings with him a wealth of knowledge. He has held various positions with the national team from fielding coach to spin bowling coach and had a stint in Bangladesh as well before returning home. Gunawardene, meanwhile, has been employed in several positions including as Batting Coach of the national team. Now he settles down as the ‘A’ team coach. Gunawardene’s coaching methods has received high praise from several players.
A key appointment is that of Dhammika Sudarshana, who has produced some quality players during his stint with Richmond College, Galle. Although Sudarshana joined SLC last year, his coaching role was unclear. He joins the Emerging team as Batting Coach. Another notable inclusion is Sampath Perera, who tasted a lot of success with Trinity College, Kandy. Known as someone who is very good at spotting talent, Sampath will function as Batting Coach of the Under-19 team.
Meanwhile SLC announced a strong Emerging team for the upcoming tour of England where they will play three Four day matches and three T-20 games. The team departs for London on the 1st of May.
All-rounder Kamindu Mendis was set to lead the Emerging team but now that he has been drafted into the national team for the two match Test series in Bangladesh, Nipun Dananjaya will lead the side. Dhananjaya Lakshan will captain the T-20 side.
Sri Lanka Emerging Team
Nipun Dananjaya (Captain), Dhananjaya Lakshan (T20 Captain), Lasith Croospulle, Avishka Perera, Santhush Gunathilaka, Avishka Tharindu, Nuwanidu Fernando, Nishan Madushka, Ashen Bandara, Dunith Wellalage, Dilum Sudeera, Ashain Daniel, Nipun Malinga, Nipun Ransika, Manelkar de Silva, Yasiru Rodrigo, Udith Madushan and Amshi De Silva.
Sri Lanka ‘A’ Team
Avishka Gunawardene– Head Coach
Thilina Kandamby – Assistant Coach
Malinda Warnapura – Batting Coach
Sajeewa Weerakoon – Bowling Coach
Upul Chandana – Fielding Coach
Ruwan Kalpage – Head Coach
Ruvin Peiris – Assistant Coach
Dharshana Gamage – Bowling Coach
Dhammika Sudarshana – Batting Coach
Under 19 Team
Jehan Mubarak – Head Coach
Sampath Perera – Assistant / Batting Coach
Chamila Gamage – Bowling Coach
Gayan Wijekoon – Fielding Coach
NH bids adieu to Ladies’ College after 50-year stint as TT coach
By a Special Sports Correspondent
Former table tennis National Champion, National Coach and sporting legend N.H Perera probably set a record in the Sri Lankan school sporting arena when he retired from coaching Ladies’ College Colombo in the ping pong ball and racket game after serving this academic institute for 50 years.
NH, as he is fondly known in the table tennis circles, started coaching Ladies College back in 1972 following an invitation made to him by the teacher in charge of sports back then Delita Fernando. When he turns the pages of time the only reason that came to his mind to say yes to this coaching assignment was that he wanted to give something back to the sport. He was quite young then (21 to be exact) and had won the table tennis national singles crown twice (1968/70) by then. He recalled with fondness how the lasses from this school won the National School Games title in 2019.
He produced many outstanding female players from this school and the secret behind his success was him being a strict disciplinarian. At the time he said yes to coaching at Ladies’ College he had laid down a condition for the authorities of the school. That was to arrange practices in the morning. This was because he was gainfully employed in work done outside table tennis. This goes on to show the caliber of players in the golden years of the sport. A good many of them had the capacity to contribute to society using their brains and education unlike today where the players are forced to supplement their income through table tennis coaching. For the record, NH served several companies and institutes in many capacities; proving that engaging in competitive sport and showing commitment to employment are a possibility when the individual has the capacity to manage both. When he finally retired from work he held the post of Marketing Manager at United Arab Shipping Lines.
He had his education at Nalanda College and had the honour of being the first table tennis national captain to be produced by this academic institute.
He rates the 1970s as the golden era of the sport. “I say this because we were invited by the ITTF to contest the Afro Asian Latin American Table Tennis Championship in Peking, China. During his playing days, NH had beaten top players from Russia, China, and also Europe. The picture he sees now in Sri Lankan table tennis is not so rosy. “We even lost to Nepal at the last SA Games. I believe the TTASL must be dissolved and a Board of Control for Table Tennis must be formed instead. Today we see many coaches out there who cannot put the ball over the net,” said Perera.
NH sees more potential in the Sri Lanka female players. According to him, the women’s players from Sri Lanka had finished sixth at the previous Commonwealth Games. “I trust that the way forward would be to bring down a female table tennis coach and male trainer; both from China. This would raise the standard of our playing,” said Perera who many years ago qualified as a coach from the Peking University of China.
He also spoke about the psychological aspects to training players. NH underscored the importance of bringing in psychology to training to help players handle unexpected challenges in the game. “You have to do sessions to develop the minds of the players,” said Perera.
He is at present engaged in coaching the students at S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia. The school by the sea won the All Island Table Tennis Championships in 2019 under his guidance.
NH maintains high standards for his players and himself. He recalls an incident in the past; which occurred during the time he was young and already the national champion. “I was coming out of the YMCA training hall after training and a photographer asked me to pose for a picture. I was in slacks and this picture appeared in the newspaper. I was summoned to the TTASL and a top official asked me why I had disgraced the sport by not being properly attired for a photograph that appeared in a national newspaper. I learned a valuable lesson in life,” concluded Perera.
Raveen likely to captain Sri Lanka Under 19s in England
by Reemus Fernando
Former Nalanda College skipper Raveen de Silva is likely to captain Sri Lanka Under 19 team which will commence a month long tour in England next week.
De Silva, who was the deputy to Dunith Wellalage at the last Youth World Cup, is the most experienced player in the squad sent for the Sports Ministry approval.
He was a key member of the Nalanda College team that registered a historic victory over arch rivals Ananda at the annual Battle of the Maroons Big Match last month.
De Silva collected a match bag of eight wickets and contributed with a valuable knock of 40 as Nalanda beat Ananda for the first time since 1953. He had fellow Sri Lanka Under 19 player Vinuja Ranpul and current Nalanda skipper Dineth Samaraweera combining well to lead the team to victory at the 92nd Bag Match. He was adjudged the Man of the Match for his contribution.
He also played a vital role for Sri Lanka Under 19s when cricket commenced after a hiatus due to Covid 19 last year.
The Sri Lanka U19s will engage in two Youth Test Matches and three Youth ODIs during their tour. They are expected to reach UK on August 14.
The tour in England will be the final Youth tour for the current Under 19s before a fresh squad is selected targeting the next Youth World Cup.
Haroon Aslam claims top position
Haroon Aslam fired a four under par 67 to claim the top position in the match-play draw in the Gold Division for the Rukmini Kodagoda Trophy. Yannik Kumara and K. Danushan of Nuwara Eliya Golf Club carded even par 71 to gain the second and third seed in the match-play draw of the top eight qualifiers.
Kaya Daluwatte returned a one over par 73 in the Girls Gold Division to be seeded first whilst Sherin Mithara is seeded next with the second-best card in the Girls Age Category of 15 – 18+.
Reshan Algama secured the top position with a 76 in the Silver Division from Jacob Norton and Adithya Weerasinghe (Anuradhapura) who shared second with a card of 80. The Bronze Division had a clear Top Seed with Thejas Rathis Kanth on 61 from the second placed Mohamed Saqeer Zuhar on 91.
The Junior Match-Play Golf Championship for the Rukmini Kodagoda Trophy, is the only Match-play Tournament for the junior golfers. The Match-play format is a test of character, skill and temperament which are unique features for a top professional golfer.
The Junior Match-play Golf Championship is being played for the seventh year attracting over 70 entries in five age group categories.
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