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Kumar Sangakkara: ‘T10 a format that might be pushed forward’ to get cricket into Olympics

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T10 could help forge cricket’s path to inclusion in the Olympics, Kumar Sangakkara, the MCC President, said. Speaking ahead of this month’s T10 League, where he will work with Team Abu Dhabi as a mentor, Sangakkara said that while it was impossible to say whether cricket might be included in the Olympics as soon as 2028, it was a case of “the sooner the better”.

“T20 has had a big push to be included in the Olympics,” Sangakkara said during a media interaction. “Would it be T20? Would they like a more condensed version in terms of T10?

“There is a lot of work to be done to get cricket into the Olympics per se. All the home boards have to buy in, the ICC has to have a good, solid push. It has to be a format that fits that sweet spot of timing and time limits and really entertains and engages the Olympic viewer because you’re not just talking about the traditional cricket spectator but also opening up completely new fan markets.

“It’s been many years since a push for cricket in the Olympics has started. It was in the Commonwealth Games for a couple of editions and I think this [T10] will be another format that might be pushed forward to see whether it’s T20, or T10, whatever works to get cricket into the Olympics.”

Last October, the ICC asked members to report on the potential financial benefits of cricket being played at the Olympics.

Eoin Morgan and, more recently, Chris Gayle – who will represent Team Abu Dhabi at this year’s T10 League – have thrown their support behind the T10 format as cricket’s vehicle for Olympic inclusion, citing its brevity and appeal to US audiences.

As the T10 League prepares for its fourth season, in Abu Dhabi from January 28 to February 6, Sangakkara could see the format taking off to the extent that existing global T20 franchises – and even sides in the new Hundred competition – have their own T10 teams as well.

The fourth edition of the T10 League is set to begin on January 28  Abu Dhabi T10

“The T10 format has great potential to do just that,” he said. “Especially with the advent of the US [T20] league, it could be that it could travel beyond the UAE to the US as well.

“And if those markets all open up I think the time [will come] when IPL franchises, BBL franchises even the Hundred from London that is launching this year, might be looking at T10 as a prospective format in their portfolio. There are a lot of people, investors, potential franchise owners and cricket boards looking at this T10 format.

“Whichever country that decides to go next in terms of formulating a tournament really need to learn its lessons from tournaments such as the ones in the UAE, understand how it’s been done well and what can be done better, how to really structure a format that has longevity, that has very good and long-term benefits in terms of developing players in terms of spreading the game but ultimately also financially.”

Sangakkara said that not only had cricket evolved to the point that several formats could co-exist, but he agreed that the shorter formats were clearly becoming part of the long-form game.

If evidence was needed, take Rishabh Pant’s ability to change gears during his 118-ball 97 in a century stand with Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a more traditional 77 from 205 deliveries in the drawn third Test in Sydney between India and Australia.

“If you take the change in terms of scoring rates over the years and the different shots you’re seeing, the reverse sweeps the paddles, the more attacking mindsets, all are a result of the shorter versions really influencing Test cricket,” Sangakkara said.

“You’ll see that trend continue and it’s great for Test cricket because it’s much more exciting to watch. Even on an entire last day batting to survive you had batsmen like Pant really upping the ante. It’s great to watch batsmen like that bat with the traditional types of a Pujara, it’s great to see how beautifully two different players with two different mindsets and techniques can co-exist in one team.”

Sangakkara said the shorter forms of the game could also evolve and become even more exciting.

“Another bumper in T20 cricket would be extremely exciting,” he said. “I’ve seen the debates as to whether the bouncer will completely go out of cricket in terms of cricketers’ safety. We have to see whether the one bouncer does go away, but a second one that really keeps the batsmen guessing would be a great addition and more exciting.

“If you take American Football, you have an offense and a defense, you could have the same with your bowling attack and two separate teams vying for the bowling innings and the batting innings. There are advancements in terms of rules and team combinations that you can play.”

While staging the T10 League during a pandemic would, as with other tournaments, face “many challenges” – quarantine, travel restrictions, bubble fatigue, lack of crowds and a potential hit to sponsorship – Sangakkara said it could also provide “a little bright spot” for those seeking escapism and entertainment amid lockdown.

The upcoming edition of the T10 League was due to be staged last November but was moved due to the IPL being pushed into that time and moved to the UAE amid the global impact of Covid-19. (cricinfo)

 

 



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Dilshi stamps her class with national record

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Shanika qualifies for World Junior Championships

by Reemus Fernando

Former Ratnayake Central Walala athlete Dilshi Kumarasinghe stamped her class with a new Sri Lanka record performance in the 800 metres while emerging 800 metres runner Shanika Lakshani reached qualifying standards for the World Under 20 Championships and sprinter Mohamed Safan broke shackles to win the 200 metres as the first Selection Trial produced its best on the final day at the Sugathadasa Stadium on Friday.

Kumarasinghe who registered her maiden 400 metres triumph at national level on Wednesday bagged the 800 metres win as well in style on Friday when she clocked the fastest time for the distance by a Sri Lankan in history. Her time of two minutes and 2.55 seconds erased the four year-old national record held by experienced Gayanthika Abeyratne who finished third(3rd 2:03.64 secs) yesterday. Asia’s third ranked 800 metres runner Nimali Liyanarachchi was placed second in a time of 2:03.15 seconds. Former record holder Abeyratne is ranked fifth in Asia.

The 21-year-old athlete trained by Susantha Fernando maintained a steady pace right throughout to win the event for the second time within months. She won her first 800 meters title at senior level at the last National Championships in December. “I am happy to have broken the record. We planned for the record but I am not satisfied with the time,” Kumarasinghe told The Island. Her coach Fernando expressed similar sentiments. “We were planning to produced a far better timing as she has the potential to reach international level,” said Fernando.

Kumarasinghe who is currently ranked sixth in Asia behind local counterparts Liyanarachchi and Aberatne is set to improve her ranking when the World Athletics update statistics next week.

Holy Cross College, Gampaha athlete Shanika Lakshani became the second junior runner at this championships to earn qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championship which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya next August. Her coach Madura Perera said that it was a huge relief to witness his trainee accomplish the target after missing it by a whisker at the National Championships in December. Lakshani, running alongside the veterans clocked 2:07.02 seconds (Qualifying mark: 2:08.70 seconds).

On Wednesday Isuru Kawshalya Abewardana of Ananda Sastralaya Matugama reached qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championship when he returned a time of 47.24 seconds in the Junior Men’s 400 metres final.

In the men’s 200 metres, Mohamed Safan turned tables on National Champion Kalinga Kumarage as both clocked sub 21 seconds, a rarity at local athletics. Safan was playing second fiddle to Kumarage at the last National Championships where he clocked 21.41 seconds. Yesterday Safan returned a time of 20.81 seconds, while Kumarage clocked 20.85 seconds.

In the women’s 200 metres, Nadeesha Ramanayake was the winner. She clocked 24.28 seconds.

The men’s 800 metres, conspicuous by the absence of national record holder Indunil Herath, was won by the Asian Championship participant Rusiru Chathuranga, who clocked 1:49.82 seconds.

Herath was not the only leading athlete who was absent at the First Selection Trial which was organized by Sri Lanka Athletics to provide much needed competition opportunity to top athletes vying to reach Olympic qualifying standards.

The next track and field competition for top athletes will be the next month’s National Championship.

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COPE; a toothless tiger?

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by Rex Clementine

Parliamentary watchdog COPE – Committee on Public Enterprises has made a scathing attack on some of the corrupt practices at Sri Lanka Cricket. COPE Chief, Professor Charith Herath has gone onto claim that by fighting out certain legal battles and writing off money that companies and member club owed SLC, insiders may have been receiving kickbacks. This is a very serious allegation by the  legislature.

Professor Herath wants legal action taken against SLC officials. It remains to be seen whether any culprits can be hauled up before courts or whether COPE is just a toothless tiger.

In the absence of SLC bigwigs, CEO Ashley de Silva bore the brunt of the criticism. In January this year, in these pages we wrote that Ashley’s time was up. While there are many questions about his efficiency and decision making abilities, it can be safely said that Ashley is no crook. The real crooks are hiding behind the CEO.

There have been some decent men as well at SLC like Mohan de Silva, who was President in 2004. De Silva had warned his colleagues that their excesses could tarnish the reputation of the institution, but his concerns fell on deaf ears.

Not only the guardians of SLC but even those who let them enter into these corrupt deals need to be probed. While most of these allegations will take time to prove, certain things can be proven beyond reasonable doubt. For example fixing a domestic match in 2017 by some prominent members of SLC.

However, four successive Sports Ministers – Dayasiri Jayasekara, Faizer Mustapaha, Harin Fernando and Namal Rajapaksa – failed to take action. All four turned a blind eye despite having overwhelming evidence in front of them. Ravin Wickramaratne, the number one suspect, went places in cricket circles. He is now SLC’s alternate ICC Director.

At a time when the game has been so badly managed, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa’s decision to backdate a gazette notification extending the term of SLC’s Executive Committee has not gone down well with many. Rather than giving a clean bill of health to SLC hierarchy, he should have perhaps taken the bad eggs out.

The ball is back on Namal’s court. It is his Ministry that has to now decide which deals need to be proved and against which officials’ action needs to be taken in courts of law.  From the start, Namal has treated SLC hierarchy with kids’ gloves. Now that their deficiencies have been exposed well and truly, he needs to watch his steps. If he continues to play politics with cricket governance, his popularity is going to wane, fast.

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Saha wins U12 boys’ singles title  

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Saha Kapilasena beat Sasen Premaratne to win the Under-12 boys’ singles title of the Clay Court Nationals conducted at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Friday. 

Kapilasena scored 6-3, 6-1 to win the title. Kapikasena ousted third seed Aahil Kaleel in the semi-final, Premaratne eliminated number one seed Methika Wickramasinghe in the semi-final. 

In the mixed doubles final Anika Seneviratne and Thangaraja Dineshkanthan were the winners as they beat Sanka Athukorale and Neyara Weerawansa 7-5, 6-4. 

Sanka Athukorale and Yasita de Silva beat Rajeev Rajapakse and Renouk Wijemanne 6-4, 6-0 to clinch the men’s doubles title.  

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