More crisis as SLC forced to name new captain
Sri Lanka’s T-20 skipper Dasun Shanaka could miss the T-20 series in the Caribbean.
By Rex Clementine
Less than a month after Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) severely censured officials of Sri Lanka Cricket for inefficiency and lack of transparency, the sport’s governing body has been exposed once again after the captain they named for the upcoming series in the Caribbean has been left stranded in Colombo unable to get a visa to fly to West Indies.
Dasun Shanaka was named as the captain for the three match series in the Caribbean and there was indication that he might hold onto the job at least till this year’s World Cup in India.
The team, however, travelled to the Caribbean on Tuesday without the captain. Sri Lanka team arrived in Antigua on Thursday after transits in Qatar and New York but the man who is supposed to lead them is still in Negombo.
The laws in Antigua, the home for Sir Viv Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose is that tourists need to be in isolation for 72 hours before being allowed to train and the Sri Lankan team’s quarantine period ends tomorrow.
The first T-20 International begins on Wednesday (3rd March) and even if Shanaka leaves Colombo today, he is unlikely to meet quarantine regulations in time ahead of the game. Sources said that Shanaka could end up missing the entire T-20 series if he is unable to fly by Monday.
The latest development comes as another blow for SLC who were involved in a bitter public spat with former great Chaminda Vaas hours before the team departed for the Caribbean. Vaas was a last minute replacement for Australian David Saker as Bowling Coach and requested for a raise of his daily allowance. SLC would have ended up only paying US$ 5000 but took the fight onto Vaas and stopped short of calling him a traitor in a media release that went viral.
As for Shanaka, why only his visa had been delayed is because the all-rounder had been issued a previous US visa but he had lost that passport. The US embassy in Colombo is investigating whether anyone had misused the visa on the stolen passport.
Sources said given the issues that Shanaka would face in obtaining a US visa, the practical thing to do would have been to fly Shanaka to London and let him catch a flight to the Caribbean after he was unable to fly with the rest of the team. Gatwick airport in London flies to all Caribbean islands from Antigua to St. Vincent’s.
When contacted by The Island, a senior official of SLC said that there was a delay in Shanaka submitting his passport to the US embassy as he was made to quarantine after attending the wedding of cricketer Sadeera Samarawickrama.
However, another source said that the selectors had submitted the names of 35 probables for the Caribbean as early as 20th January. The practice is to get visas for all 35 but for some reason, SLC had severely delayed the process.
The selectors will consult Head Coach Mickey Arthur before naming a new captain. Sources said that the choice is between two players who had captained the team before.
Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move
by Rex Clementine
After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.
One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.
In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.
Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.
It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup. By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.
It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly. On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.
Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.
In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare). The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.
Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest
Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.
Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.
“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.
Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.
A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.
Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.
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