by Reemus Fernando
Former Sri Lanka national player Naveed Nawaz has been involved in coaching Under-19 national players for more than a decade now. Some of the players who were under him when he was the coach of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team are now competing in the ICC T20 World Cup. In Bangladesh, he had immense success when the team he coached went on to become the Youth World Cup champions at the last edition. Some of the players he coached in that team too have gone on to represent the country at the senior national level. His success with the Bangladesh Under-19 team has earned him accolades and a worthy job extension beyond the upcoming Youth World Cup. However, Nawaz is not with the Bangladesh Under-19 team currently touring Sri Lanka. He is in Australia attending to a family matter but is confident that his charges will be well looked after by his staff during the five-match series starting on Friday.
In an interview with The Island, the former Sri Lanka Under-19 coach compared and contrasted the challenges in the two countries where junior players come from two different structures.
“If you compare the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi Under-19 systems the player turn out in the Bangladesh Under-19 programme is much less than the Sri Lankan Under-19 programme. Due to the strong school cricket structure in Sri Lanka, there is a good player turnout and a bigger pool of players to select from. In Bangladesh, the numbers are lesser than that. The number of players we pick the Under-19 team from is much less. I would consider it as a disadvantage because sometimes you are restricted to a lesser number of players. Some challengers like the variety of players that you are looking for are really not there. But due to the strong Club Cricket system in Bangladesh and also the Provincial Cricket system in Bangladesh a lot of players at a very early age get exposed to playing First and Second Division cricket. They play a lot of cricket with senior players. That is a great experience. Obviously, that is an advantage when you are playing against an Under-19 team. Nevertheless, any Under-19 system is a difficult area to work with because the continuation of the player pool is not there. At Under-19 level we get new players coming in every two years. It is not that you build a certain squad and you get an opportunity to work with them until they grow and mature into an international cricketer. Every two years you are turning the squad around and get fresh players coming into the squad. You are basically repeating a programme every two years
Asked what impact the Youth World Cup victory by Bangladesh Under-19 had on his coaching career he had this to say. “The Youth World Cup win had a massive impact on me personally. The first thing for me was the reality that the programme that I put across for the two-year period had worked really well and the players have responded well to the programme which was satisfying. The programme had been running for two years. It was not only winning a World Cup (which was satisfying), but also for a team from Bangladesh to do really well in England as well as New Zealand. I think that was the main thing that paved the way for us to move on and win a World Cup in South Africa. It was a massive achievement for an Asian team. It is not like winning a World Cup in the subcontinent. Our players played really well, batted and bowled exceptionally well competing against the best cricketing systems in the world on fast bouncy wickets in South Africa. The World Cup win had a massive impact on my reputation as a coach.”
In comparison to the Sri Lanka Under-19 team who commenced training recently, the Bangladesh Under-19 tram had spent a year together though their training had been inconsistent due to the Covid 19 pandemic. “We started training in October 2020. But training could not continue regularly. Some of our camps got disrupted due to lockdowns and Covid 19 outbreak and various issues due to the pandemic. There were various tours planned by the Bangladesh Cricket Board. But they got cancelled.
“Training got affected in a massive way. Almost three or four of our camps got disrupted due to the Covid 19 outbreak and lockdowns in Bangladesh. BCB had planned tours to Pakistan and England. Both got cancelled. They could not be rescheduled due to worldwide issues from travel issues to biosecurity issues. Like any other country. It was a big blow,” said Nawaz commenting on the impact the Covid 19 pandemic had on the team’s preparation for the Youth World Cup.
Gateway felicitates coach for making Sri Lanka proud
Pradeep Nishantha, Assistant Head of Sports of Gateway College Colombo was felicitated by the school for his remarkable contribution in producing two medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Japan.
The national anthem was played for the very first time at an Olympics when Dinesh Priyantha Herath who was trained by Pradeep Nishantha won a gold medal with a new world record. Pradeep has been employed at Gateway since 2005 and he has been responsible for producing many national athletes from Gateway.
Gateway students are blessed to be coached and guided by professionals of the highest caliber. Thilaka Jinadasa, the Team Leader – Sports development for the entire group represented Sri Lanka in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Among Gateway’s team of coaches are a number of top Sri Lankan coaches. Tharindu Fernando, who was recently appointed National Basketball Coach for the Under 23 Sri Lankan side is among them.
Dialog and SLC release T20 World Cup song ‘Ape Kollo’
The national cricket team’s sponsor and Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata, together with Sri Lanka Cricket, recently released ‘Ape Kollo’ the T20 World Cup song in support of the Team on their T20 World Cup campaign which will commence on the 18th of October 2021 in the United Arab Emirates.
The song will be sung by a stellar line-up of artistes and Dialog brand ambassadors including, Bathiya and Santhush, Umaria, Yohani, Sanka Dineth, Sajitha, Sanuka, Madhuvy and guest performer, Roy Jackson. With lyrics written by Triad, the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 World Cup song is an initiative powered by Dialog Axiata connecting the wishes of every Sri Lankan.
Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa, Vice President of Sri Lanka Cricket said, “I would like to thank Dialog Axiata for materializing the T20 World Cup song into existence. This tribute will be an immense morale boost for players and fans alike. The team over the past few months have been playing tourneys and trial games which have been instrumental in selecting the best combination for the T20 World Cup in UAE.”
Sri Lanka will qualify, but can they reach semis?
by Rex Clementine
The cricket fans of Sri Lanka are truly amazing. They know pretty well that the chances of the team reaching the semi-finals in UAE is as low as that of Maithripala Sirisena winning a future Presidential election, but they keep believing that their team will deliver. It is only fair that the players come up with a decent show, unlike Maithripala.
If the IPL is any indication, there aren’t going to be too many high scoring games over the next four weeks and spin is going to play a huge part. That will certainly be a good indication for Sri Lanka’s bowlers.
Their batsmen, however, it remains to be seen what lessons they have learnt on sweeping. Grant Flower seemed to be having little tricks up his sleeve on the advantage of the sweep, both the conventional, paddle and reverse. Hopefully, now that Sri Lanka have a fine sweeper in their coaching staff in Mahela Jayawardene, the issue has been discussed at length.
Lack of smart options against spin has been one reason for Sri Lanka’s decline in the shorter formats of the game. Ours was a team where the sweep was the batsmen’s bread and butter and it’s quite perplexing how the current lot have forgotten to sweep and the coaching staff have failed to address the issue.
Avishka Fernando has been tremendous to watch. He has always been an exciting player and such a shame that he failed a fitness test in January and was banished from the team hotel. He was so close to making his Test debut against England and failing the fitness test was a bitter pill to swallow. But glad that the selectors and the coaching staff had the conviction to do it. They have spared the rod and spoilt too many young children. Avishka has bounced back; leaner, fitter, stronger and hungrier. IPL teams will be watching and the gut feeling is we are talking of a future billionaire in this space.
There is some school of thought that Avishka should bat at number four. He has come up with some consistent performances in that position this week. It’s true that he is Aravinda’s heir apparent, but Sri Lanka has to make the most of the Power Plays and Avishka should open batting with Kusal Perera to make most of the field restrictions. You sense that you have enough fire power in Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne to take care of the death overs.
Oppositions will focus a lot on Hasaranga’s leg spin as he has had quite a bit of success in the lasts 12 months and ended up earning a contract in the IPL. World Cup is a superb occasion for him to stamp his authority as one of world’s leading wrist spinners.
Maheesh Theekshana, the new kid, has a bit of surprise element in him and could trouble teams that have not seen him much as he proved during his debut against Proteas last month. It will be interesting to see how teams that do not play spin that well handle him.
The last minute decision to include Akila Dananjaya while axing Praveena Jayawickrama hasn’t gone down too well with some supporters. But it’s a smart move. There’s no denying of the fact that Akila has looked a pale shadow of his former self since remodeling his action and in recent months has looked awful. But then, Sri Lanka have to qualify. The team is thin on experience after our selectors chased away half a dozen seniors and Akila has a surprise element about him and that could come in handy; particularly in the qualifying round.
The spin trio is not Sri Lanka’s only strength. Their main weapon is pace with Dushmantha Chameera picking up wickets with the new ball consistently and he will be their key weapon. Such a shame that the team will miss the services of Nuwan Pradeep, a clever bowler in death overs.
All hope is not lost for Sri Lanka though. One good thing is that they are not playing any Asian teams. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in Group ‘B’. Sri Lanka will have Australia, England, West Indies, South Africa and one more qualifier and if their spin fires, they could spring a few surprises. Can they go onto book a semi-final berth?
In T-20 cricket anything can happen. So don’t just rule out the Sri Lankan team. The same can be said of our voters. Don’t rule out Maithripala.
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