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Plight of school coaches Some working as pump attendants

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by Reemus Fernando

His love for the game of cricket forced Aman Uditha to take up one of the toughest coaching assignments at Vijayaba National School, Hungama (Hambantota District), a place that does not have a strong cricket culture to attract highly qualified coaches. The school which has produced a pace bowler in the Sri Lanka Under-19 team in recent times is one of the many lower division schools struggling to pay their coaches after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coaches in almost all the Division III and a majority of Division II cricket playing schools and some Division I schools are paid by the School Development Societies (SDS), which largely rely on contributions from parents. Schools have found it difficult to sustain these funds due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Many such schools have either totally stopped paying their coaches or have reduced their salaries by big margins, forcing them to look elsewhere for a living. Unlike well-established schools, those in the lower divisions depend on a single coach to train all age group teams in the school. Uditha is responsible for coaching the Under-13, 15 and 17 teams of Vijayaba National School.

Affairs in some of the premier Division I cricket playing schools too have fallen to the same level as the underprivileged schools thanks to the pandemic. Many coaches, contacted comment, lamented about the unprecedented salary cuts they had been compelled to bear with in the recent months.

Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association with the help of Sri Lanka Cricket recently granted some concessions to coaches affected by the pandemic but it is just a short-term measure, and the coaches continue to suffer.

“I have been a cricket coach for years. I do not have experience in any other field and at this age, I cannot train myself for any other job; I am in a dilemma,” a level I coach of a Big Match playing school from the suburbs of Colombo told The Island. The coach of the premier cricket playing school has been training all age group teams (U13, 15, 17 and 19). His salary was first reduced by 25% due to the pandemic; it has been reduced by 50% during the recent months.

A group of coaches mentioned that some of their colleagues from underprivileged schools had been compelled to work at filling stations to keep home fires burning.

Meanwhile, some coaches whose contracts were terminated following the first wave of the pandemic are looking forward to securing new contracts elsewhere for the new season. But a recent Ministry of Education circular, which canceled all sports competitions in schools, has shattered their hopes.

However, a few coaches have been lucky. All coaches contracted by S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia continue to receive their full remuneration. The 70 plus coaching staff, training young Thomian sportsmen in 27 sports, are lucky while hundreds of their counterparts, employed by public and private schools are experiencing severe hardships.

A senior sports administrator of S. Thomas’ College told The Island: “We have paid all coaches their full salaries though we had to cancel training following Ministry of Education directives. We are paying them through the budget allocated in December,”

Uditha comes from the same district Suranga Lakmal, who was lucky to find a place in the Richmond College team before earning a place in the Sri Lanka team. Uditha found a place for his medium pace at Devananda College, Ambalangoda before taking up coaching. It is coaches like Uditha who spot talent like that of Lakmal for Sri Lanka Cricket. Sri Lanka Cricket, which is the richest sports body of the country and the Ministry of Education, should, therefore, look into the grievances of coaches and redress them.



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Ibrahim Zadran stuns Sri Lanka

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Ibrahim Zadran posted the highest individual score by an Afghan in ODI as he finished on 162 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele yesterday. It’s also the highest score by a visiting batsman in Sri Lanka.

Rex Clementine at Pallekele

We may have seen cricket’s next biggest sensation as Afghanistan’s  Ibrahim Zadran posted a stunning 162 before being dismissed in the last ball of the innings as the tourists posted a commanding 313 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.

No team had successfully chased that many at Pallekele to win an ODI and the hosts will be under huge pressure.

Zadran posted the highest individual score by an Afghan going past Mohammad Shahzad’s 131. It was also Afghanistan’s highest total against Sri Lanka.

There had been huge concerns about Sri Lanka’s fielding and a better effort on the field would have seen Afghanistan being reduced to less than 300. Fielding has been an area that has been a letdown for some time now but very little has been done to address the issue.

Zadran had posted a hundred in the first ODI as well and for someone who was featuring in his eighth game, he looked a mature player.  A very organized batsman, the 20-year-old produced some classical shots, and his temperament was outstanding.

Zadran had the aggression of a Ricky Ponting and the elegance of a Rahul Dravid and he certainly will be a player whom we will be talking about a lot in the future.

Zadran’s hundred came off 100 deliveries and from thereon he was cruising as his 162 came off 138 balls with 15 fours and four sixes.

Afghanistan were in a spot of bother as they were reduced to 57 for three. But a 154-run stand for the fourth wicket followed between the two Zadrans – Ibrahim and Najibullah. It’s a new record for Afghanistan for the fourth wicket.

The partnership was broken when captain Dasun Shanaka completed a sharp catch off Wanindu Hasaranga. But Afghanistan were well set at that stage to post a commanding total. Najibullah finished with 77 off 76 balls with eight fours and one six.

Kasun Rajitha continued to impress by claiming three wickets.

Sri Lanka looked to be a side in disarray. As Ibrahim Zadran cleared Wanindu Hasaranga over long-off, the leg-spinner seemed to be upset that the fielder was at mid-off instead of the boundary rope and stormed off the field. He didn’t return to continue bowling and Shanaka had to send down an over from Rikillagaskada End. Eventually he returned and finished with two for 67.

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Sandeesh double helps Sebs  

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Under 19 Division I Cricket 

by Reemus Fernando  

Skipper Sandeesh Fernando produced a five wicket haul before scoring a half century as St. Sebastian’s posted 114 runs for five wickets at stumps in reply to De Mazenod’s 144 on day one of their Under 19 traditional match at Kandana on Wednesday.

Fernando’s five wicket haul was the key as St. Sebastian’s restricted the home team to 144 runs. Later Fernando top scored with 60 runs inclusive of eight fours for them to reach 114 for five wickets.

At Negombo, Maris Stella earned first innings honours against St. Anne’s as Kaveen Fernando and Sadew Eksith made 60s for them to amass 278 runs in reply to visitors’ first innings score of 234 runs.

In the other Division I first XI match which commenced on Wednesday, Mithila Charles scored an unbeaten half century for St. Servatius’ to reach 119 for four wickets at stumps in reply to St. Anthony’s 157 runs at Wattala.

Match Results  

A draw at Negombo 

Scores: 

St. Anne’s 234 all out in 67.3 overs (Adithya Nirvan 49, Yomesh Subasinghe 85, Kavindu Wijesinghe 28; Navindu Wijesuriya 4/53, Ramith Bandara 2/53) and 40 for no loss in 7 overs (Mahima Kotuwila 27n.o.)

Maris Stella 52 for 1 overnight 278 all out in 94.4 overs (Shean Adithya 25, Anshen de Silva 22, Kaveen Fernando 61, Sadew Eksith 65, Hasindu Perera 33, Nethum Basnayake 22; Manaan Muzammil 2/94, Geethika de Silva 2/32, Kevin Shewantha 2/24, Yashmin Kalhara 2/31)

 De Mazenod 144 , St. Sebastian’s 114/5 at Kandana

Scores: 

De Mazenod 144 all out in 57.3 overs (Janith Karindra 21,  Nethan Dias 26, Uvindu Perera 29, Sanketh Perera 21; Manuja Chanthuka 2/30, Sandeesh Fernando  5/27, Mahen Silva 2/13)

St. Sebastian’s 114 for 5 in 38.2 overs (Sanesh Fernando 33, Sandeesh Fernando 60; Kavindu Kaushalya 4/47)

 St. Anthony’s 157, St. Servatius’ 119/4 at Wattala

Scores: 

St. Anthony’s Wattala 157 all out in 57.3 overs  (K. V. R. Perera 40, S. M. S. A. Samaradivakara 43, S. P. Maduranga 24; Chathum Bimsara 3/35, Chiran Neththaru 2/31, Kushan Wijerama 3/31)

St. Servatius’ 119 for 4 in 32  overs (Mithila Charles 51n.o., Vishwa Supun 36; P. V. Randeniya 2/41)

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Chamika under fire after chief selector opens can of worms

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Chamika Karunaratne

By Rex Clementine

Promising all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne will not be considered for selection for a considerable period of time after Chairman of Selectors Pramodaya Wickremesinghe in an e-mail to SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva made a scathing attack on the player.

The mail is circulating in social media and was confirmed yesterday to be authentic and raises serious questions about the national cricket team’s conduct in Australia during the ICC Men’s T-20 World Cup where the former champions’ off the field activities received more attention than their on-field performances.

Team Manager Mahinda Halangoda was brought in for the job as he was known as a strict disciplinarian. Not many during their playing days took on Arjuna Ranatunga, but Halangoda was an exception having stood his ground and not given in to Arjuna during their SSC days. It is believed that Halangoda’s wings were clipped during the World Cup campaign and he may have been told to turn a blind eye to breach of discipline by influential individuals.

Wickremesinghe in his mail says, “I observed that his (Chamika) commitment towards training sessions was fast receding contrary to the high standards he maintained a few months ago.”

“I believe the reason for all the above mentioned is that he is not totally focused on cricket, which is a significant change from his earlier commitment even considering the importance of the ICC World T20.”

“If I’m to continue with what I observed, the whole reason for this is that he was more interested in his distractive personal matters other than cricket.”

“At the conclusion of the Australian tour, I had a meeting with the National Coach pertaining to tour selections for the Afghanistan inbound tour of Sri Lanka. While names were being discussed, Chamika’s name was discussed in detail, the outcome of the meeting on Chamika’s selection was to leave him out from this tour as the National Coach has lost trust in him as Chamika has been exposed in not being truthful to the coach on multiple occasions. It was the opinion of the Coach that Chamika was not focused on his game.”

“Even during the T20 World Cup in Australia I  observed Chamika very closely, it was my observation  that wherever we travelled internally, he was more focused on meeting ladies of Sri Lankan origin who were domiciled in Australia. Further, I would like to place on record that he has missed some training sessions on tour mentioning that he was feeling unwell, however I have reason to believe that he had accommodated female companions at the hotel. (I would propose that a request is made to the hotel to provide CCTV footage on the said dates he did not attend training sessions),” adds Wickremesinghe in his mail.

“I was also told by the team Manager that during our stay in Sydney, a Sri Lankan gentleman had called and wanted to meet with Chamika mentioning that he had a problem to solve with Chamika. Thereafter the Manager refused to accommodate his request unless there was a meaningful reason to meet him, at that point the gentleman had mentioned that Chamika had been calling his wife and bothering her with indecent proposals and being a nuisance. Contacting this gentleman via the Team Manager, you may be able to find out more depth about the activities of Chamika, which he had mentioned that he had evidence of some grave malpractices involving Chamika.”

Karunaratne was fined US$ 5000 for being involved in a fight in a Brisbane casino and was handed a one year suspended sentence. Further, he had been fined 1000 Australian Dollars while on tour for his excesses. “I also got to know from the team manager that he had been lighting oil lamps and incense sticks in his hotel room which is totally against the hotel safety policy, It would have been a major disaster if the room caught on fire and this came to light from the housekeeping and despite being told by the team manager not to  leave the room without blowing out anything which has been lit with fire due to hotel rules. Despite the warning, he had repeated this, the day after having left the room with a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside his room and he was fined 1000 AUD by the team management.”

“The recent inappropriate behaviour by him and Dhanushka Gunathilaka. has hampered the team’s progress, unity and affected the mindset of our young national cricketers, who won the Asia Cup. We need to seriously address these issues and strict discipline has to be adhered to, ensuring these incidents will not happen again. A clear message has to be given to the team, that indiscipline will not be tolerated.”

Wickremesinghe ends his letter requesting SLC to send Karunaratne for counselling. “It is my view that Chamika be referred to Psychological counselling immediately prior to him taking part in any form of International Cricket as it would give this talented youngster, which we as selectors rate him highly for which he can bring to the table in the future for Sri Lankan Cricket.”

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