by Rex Clementine
Watching County Cricket in the 1980s must have been fun. There were some quality players around. Hampshire had David Gower and Malcolm Marshall; Essex had Graham Gooch and Allan Border while Somerset had Sir Ian Botham and Sir Viv Richards. Watching the two friends trying to outhit each other over River Tone would have been quite an experience. England and West Indies have been playing Test cricket for the last 57 years for the Wisden Trophy and the two cricket boards announced on Friday that they are naming the series after two former greats – Richards and Botham.
The Wisden Trophy was introduced to mark the centenary anniversary of the Almanac. Both Richards and Botham played for it. The need to change the title and dedicate the series after some of the finest players the countries have seen was first suggested by former England captain Mike Atherton, who is now a prominent cricket writer and broadcaster in Britain.
There are of course those who ask the question whether instead of naming the series after the two terrific players, whether it should have been just named Sir Viv Richards Trophy. Like Sir Frank Worrell Trophy for which Australia and West Indies contest.
The simple reason for it is that Botham never was part of a winning side when he played the West Indies, who dominated the sport from late 1970s to early 1990s. Botham averaged 21 with the bat and 35 with the ball against the West Indies and scored no hundreds. Richards whereas always raised his game when playing against England. He averaged 62 against them, way above his career average of 50.
But there is more to cricket than stats alone. Botham calls Richards a ‘blood brother’. Richards recalls how Botham used to get hate mail simply because the Antiguan was his friend. Not just that. Richards was Botham’s first born’s godfather. Liam was born in 1977, and Richards was yet to become a superstar. That must have been a very unpopular decision in Britain in 1970s. But Botham stood by his mate.
Twice, Botham was offered lucrative contracts by South Africans during the apartheid era to be part of ‘rebel tours’. Botham turned down both offers simply because Richards was his friend. Botham calls Richards ‘smoky’ and Richards calls Botham ‘beefy’. Nicknames that stuck.
Those who argue that Botham’s name should not have been there should be reminded that Australia and Sri Lanka play for Warne – Murali Trophy. Now then, what’s Murali’s stats against the Aussies? World’s highest wicket taker averaged 36 against the Aussies, whereas his career average was 22. Nobody argues about Murali’s name being there.
Botham’s was knighted for his services for the game of cricket. He could have been knighted for his charitable acts as well. Many walks that he undertook to help leukemia patients has been appreciated by all and sundry. Not just in the cold climes of Britain. Even in the heat and humidity of Sri Lanka, Botham walked from north to south for several days. Funds poured in and were utilized to help the poor.
Sportsman can do much to make others’ life better. Both Botham and Richards have done much. It’s time to retire the Wisden Trophy to the Lord’s museum. Let’s celebrate cricket by appreciating some of our finest players.
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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