by Rex Clementine
Cricket’s headquarters seems to be slowly shifting from Maitland Place to Pedris Road and those who matter like the Sports Minister seems to have given the thumbs up for the move. The press too is not making a hue and cry like they did when the headquarters shifted to Perera Gardens in Battaramulla from Maitland Place ten years ago. Pedris Road is good news. Cricket’s intellectuals often gather there to discuss sport’s burning issues and these days they are busy interviewing the gents who have applied for the post of Head Coach of the national cricket team.
There has been some indication that the men who matter expected Graham Ford to apply for the post. But then, when you have proven credentials, you don’t have to apply for a post. Positions come after you when your track record is good. Look at Sagala Ratnayake. When Tilak Marapana, a man with an impeccable track record resigned as Minister of Law and Order, Ranil appointed Sagala for the post although there were many other capable men in his ranks like General Sarath Fonseka. The rest as they say is history. The same thing could be said of Cabraal, but let’s stick to cricket and Ford here.
More than a decade ago, SLC was interested in hiring Steve Rixon as the Head Coach. So the board Secretary called up the former Australian wicketkeeper and asked him to come along for an interview. The Secretary got an earful as Rixon told him, ‘Interviews are a waste of time. You either want me or don’t want me. Then, if I am no good, you fire me.” SLC never offered the job to Rixon as they feared that he was too blunt.
Ford is mild. Too mild at times you wonder. He has had two stints with SLC and on both occasions got bad deals. But never did he run his employer down in public leave alone going to courts. The sport is a million buck business now and nobody takes sacking lying down.
Technically, Ford was never sacked. But those gents who ran cricket knew very well how to make someone’s life difficult without sacking him. Ford is someone who would not suffer fools gladly.
He had come down to Colombo for his second innings having made a big sacrifice. He had a solid contract with English county Surrey, whose association he ended early to return to Sri Lanka. He was moving about his business smartly as Sri Lanka humbled Australia 3-0 in a Test series in 2016. But soon trouble was brewing as Ford’s wings were clipped and he was never comfortable with what was going on. But he had mentored some solid young players during his second innings. Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lakshan Sandakan and Vishwa Fernando just to name a few.
Mentoring young players was Ford’s forte. He was the understudy for Bob Woolmer for an extensive period of time and succeeded Woolmer as South Africa’s Head Coach in 1999 and brought the best out of many young players such as Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Makaya Ntini, and so on. Sri Lanka missed out on a golden opportunity.
It doesn’t matter that Ford has not applied. Those who are calling the shots in the sport can approach him as he has just quit a job coaching Ireland. Someone with a proven track record and someone who loves Sri Lanka, you don’t get a better coach than Graham Ford. That’s why Angelo Mathews wanted him as Coach for the Colombo Stars franchise in LPL. Unfortunately, Ford was at that point ‘serving a cooling-off period after his Irish stint.
Kalinga, Aruna, Nadeesha qualify for Asian Games finals
by Reemus Fernando
All three Sri Lankan sprinters qualified for the finals of their respective disciplines to give country’s track and field campaign a positive start at the Asian Games on Friday.While Kalinga Kumarage and Aruna Dharshana qualified for the men’s 400 metres final, Asian Championship gold medallist Nadeesha Ramanayake reached the finals of the women’s 400metres.
Ramanayake clocked the third fastest time in the heats to qualify for the finals where Bahrain’s Oluwakemi Kujidat and Salwa Nesar are the strongest contenders for the gold medal.
Competing in the third heat Ramanayake clocked 52.67 seconds to finish second behind Oluwakemi Kujidat. Ramanayake’s time was the third fastest in the heats in the final analysis. While former world champion Salwa Nesar was the winner in the second heat, Shereen Samson of Malaysia won the first heat in a time of 52.89 seconds.
Both Salwa and Oluwakemi Kujidat were not in the fray when Ramanayake won Sri Lanka the gold medal at the recently held Asian Athletics Championship. Ramanayake will have a tough ask today when she competes for Asian Games glory.
In the men’s category 400 metres, Kumarage clocked 45.57 seconds to win his heat, while Aruna Dharshana finished third in his heat in a time of 46.07 seconds.\Kumarage’s 45.54 seconds is the third fastest time in the heats, while Dharshana enters final as the eighth fastest from the heats.
All three sprinters will be eager to create history when they compete in the 400 metres finals. Sri Lanka has not won a medal of any colour in track and field at these Games since 2006.
Sri Lanka won two bronze medals at the Asian Games in Doha. Susanthika Jayasinghe in the women’s 200 metres and the men’s 4×400 metres team of Sugath Thilakaratne, Rohan Pradeep Kumara, Prasanna Amarasekara and Ranga Wimalawansa were the last medallist for Sri Lanka in track and field at these Games.
New Zealand 96-17 Italy: All Blacks move to cusp of Rugby World Cup quarter-finals
Superb New Zealand scored an incredible 14 tries and hit 96 points against Italy in Pool A to move to the cusp of the World Cup quarter-finals.
Knowing a defeat would see them eliminated, the All Blacks raced into a pulsating 49-3 half-time lead. They ultimately ran out 96-17 victors with scrum-half Aaron Smith scoring a hat-trick after just 33 minutes.
The All Blacks will guarantee a spot in the knockouts with a win over Uruguay in their final pool match on Thursday. Italy must beat hosts France in their next match to reach a first World Cup quarter-final.
The All Blacks’ win sees them jump up to second in Pool A, level on points with Italy who they now have a superior head-to-head record over.
New Zealand cruise past Pakistan’s 345 with five wickets in hand
Kane Williamson’s return to action headlined New Zealand’s first official warmup match of the 2023 World Cup as they hit the right notes with the bat in a high-scoring game in Hyderabad. Mohammad Rizwan (103) and Babar Azam (80) provided a good platform and the middle order got amongst the runs to help Pakistan post 345. The total, however, proved insufficient as New Zealand, led by Rachin Ravindra’s 97 and three other half-century scores, including that of Williamson, pulled off the chase with 6.2 overs to spare
After Devon Conway was dismissed by Hasan Ali for a golden duck, Ravindra and Williamson got together and added 179 runs in just 22 overs to power New Zealand’s chase. Williamson decided to retire after crossing fifty while Ravindra was dismissed by Agha Salman before he could get a ton. Usama Mir then picked up the wickets of Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips in quick succession but fifties from Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell, and an important 33 from James Neesham, helped New Zealand over the line in the 44th over.
Earlier, After opting to bat, Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq in the second over to Matt Henry while Mitch Santner had Abdullah Shafique out stumped. Babar, who started watchfully, found his groove while Rizwan also scored at a steady rate as they raised a century partnership to set things up nicely for Pakistan. Babar, however, missed a hundred while Rizwan retired after reaching three figures, giving Pakistan’s lower middle order some time out in the middle. Saud Shakeel (75) and Agha Salman (33*) came up with handy contributions to propel Pakistan past 340.
Pakistan 345/5 in 50 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 103, Babar Azam 80; Mitch Santner 2-39) lost to New Zealand 346/5 in 43.4 overs (Rachin Ravindra 97, Mark Chapman 65; Usama Mir 2-68) by 5 wickets
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