142nd Battle of the Blues
by Reemus Fernando
The fact that the historic Battle of the Blues had been played uninterruptedly even during the two World Wars and local insurgencies is something that ‘Royal-Thomian’ enthusiasts cherish so dearly. That uninterrupted status of the annual encounter will be intact when S. Thomas’ under the captaincy of Shalin de Mel and Royal skippered by the former Sri Lanka Under-19 player Ahan Wickramasinghe enter the SSC ground for the 142nd edition of the Big Match today.
After the inaugural match was played in 1880, it is the first time the match is played in October as the organizers had to postpone the event twice (May and September) this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Except the Royal-Thomian only one other Big Match had been played this year.
With no match exposure during recent months, and some players barely having played matches of innings format, analysts believe that only a special batting effort could make the encounter last for three days if the weather permits. Except the three Sri Lanka Under-19 players who were involved in the just concluded series against Bangladesh, other players have not taken part in matches during recent months due to lockdowns and pandemic related restrictions.
Even the Sri Lanka Under-19 players, namely Ryan Fernando and Yasiru Rodrigo from S. Thomas’ and Sadisha Rajapaksha from Royal competed only in two to three Limited Overs matches during the series concluded on Monday. However, nearly a month-long training camp where they also played practice games is going to stand in good stead for the trio. Both teams played a few traditional matches early this year but those statistics will not make it easy assessing the true strengths of the two teams.
The Thomians are fielding one of the youngest teams in recent history. There are as many as seven freshers lining up with the four colursmen against a team that have as many as six players from the last Big Match and three others who played First XI cricket last season. According to S. Thomas’ coach Dinesh Kumarasinghe, “the present Thomian outfit is the youngest team since 1999.” Some of them have played only in an Under-15 tournament. That too in the year 2019.
The Thomians will heavily rely on skipper De Mel, Sri Lanka Under 19 duo Fernando and Rodrigo, and Caniston Gunarathnam who all played in the last Big Match. Apart from them batting opener Anuk Palihawadana was the only batsman who was among runs during the few traditional matches they played early this year.
Left armer Rodrigo will spearhead the bowling attack with Caniston Gunarathnam with Nethan Caldera providing additional pace options. Offies Palihawadena and Thenuka Liyanage and leg spinner Rajindu Tilakaratne will brace the spin department.
On paper, Royal are the formidable team with the entire batting line up having played First XI cricket for more than two seasons. Skipper Wickramasinghe maintained an average over 85 runs during their traditional matches early this year. Kavindu Pathiratne, Isiwara Dissanayake, Sadisha Rajapaksha and Dasis Manchanayake who excelled at the last Big Match are reliable batsmen.
Kavindu Pathiratne will lead the bowling attack with fellow pacemen Dan Poddiwela and Sonal Amarasekara, while left arm spinner Balasuriya will be joined by Prashan Silva to make strong the spin department.
The match will be played behind closed doors. Organisers said in a statement yesterday that only the sponsor’s media arm will be permitted to cover the match. (Pix by Kamal Wanniarachchi)
Ahan Wickramsinghe (Captain), Kavindu Pathiratne (V. Capt.), Prashan Silva, Isiwara Dissanayake, Gishan Balasuriya, Sadisha Rajapaksha, Dasis Manchanayake, Sonal Amarasekara, Sehan Herath, Sineth Jayawardena, Dan Poddiwela.
Shalin De Mel (Captain), Ryan Fernando (V. Capt.), Yasiru Rodrigo, Caniston Gunarathnam, Anuk Palihawadena, Romesh Mendis, Nathan Caldera, Thenuka Liyanage, Mahith Perera, Rajindu Tilakaratne, Senesh Hettiarachchi.
Paul Farbrace to be Sri Lanka Head Coach
by Rex Clementine
Englishman Paul Farbrace is all set to be roped in as Sri Lanka’s Head Coach on a two year stint. The former wicketkeeper batsman is set to take up the new role later next month when the national cricket team tours India for a two match Test and three match T-20 series. Farbrace’s appointment will see Sri Lanka ending the headhunt for Mickey Arthur’s successor.
Arthur, extremely popular among local fans and players, ended his two year tenure in December last year. He was keen for an extension, however, Sri Lanka Cricket let Arthur go with a heavy heart as they felt that fresh ideas needed to come into the coaching set up.
The new coaching set up will be all Sri Lankan except for the Head Coach and Fielding Coach. The Cricket Advisory Committee comprising former captains Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan are said to be in discussions with a New Zealander to fill the role.
There were more than 30 applicants for the Head Coach’s position and Farbrace had not applied. However, the Cricket Advisory Committee were not satisfied with the response and started negotiating with other individuals.
Former Head Coach Graham Ford was the overwhelming choice to return for a third stint. However, the South African is believed to be having issues to move to Colombo at present. Ford under whom Sri Lanka whitewashed Australia 3-0 in Tests at home had not ruled out returning to Colombo although his early departure in 2017 was somewhat sour.
This left Farbrace the leading choice to fill Arthur’s shoes and SLC is set to sign the deal over the next couple of weeks.
Farbrace will not travel to Australia next month for the five match T-20 series. Rumesh Ratnayake will continue as Interim Coach.
Farbrace (54) from Ash-next-Sandwich in Canterbury had played First Class cricket for Kent and Middlesex and in 2005 joined SLC at the age of 37 as Assistant Coach to Trevor Bayliss.
SLC then appointed Frabrace as Head Coach in 2014 and in his first campaign – the T-20 World Cup in Bangladesh – he guided Sri Lanka to victory beating India in the final. However, immediately afterwards, he quit the job and joined English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as Assistant to Head Coach Trevor Bayliss. The manner in which Farbrace left made many unhappy. However, it is believed that ECB secretly paid SLC a sum to the tune of US$ 100,000 for snatching their Head Coach away.
The Island learns that SLC had told Farbrace to see through to his contract. Not many coaches anyway have been that lucky with SLC with the board ending their terms prematurely. Some coaches like Geoff Marsh took the board to courts and won the case in 2012 for wrongful termination of employment. The manner in which Cricket Advisory Committee has worked with coaches is commendable. They were not happy with the performances of certain coaches under Mickey Arthur last year, but rather than pulling the trigger, they patiently waited until the coaches finished their terms.
Although, the Cricket Advisory Committee was initially keen to appoint a local as the Head Coach, they seem to have deviated from their stance and brought in Farbrace.
Former Test cricketer Naveed Nawaz also will join the national team as assistant to Farbrace. Nawaz is currently with Bangladesh Cricket Board and although he is contracted till the end of the year, sources said that he is expected to get an early release.
Bashan, Kaveen take day’s top honours
Under 17 Division I Cricket
by Reemus Fernando
St. Aloysius’ College, Galle skipper Bashan de Silva, Maris Stella College batsman Kaveen Fernando and Sri Devananda College, Ambalangoda spinner Lahiru Kavinda produced notable performances as their teams recorded impressive victories in the Inter School Under 17 Division I tournament matches played on Monday.
Bashana produced the day’s best all-round performance taking five wickets with his off spin to (9-1-33-5) contain Mahinda to 205 runs. Later he anchored the batting line up with an unbeaten 67 runs (in 93 balls, 6x4s) to pull off a nerve tingling one wicket win at Galle International Stadium.
At Godigamuwa, Kaveen Fernando top scored with 108 runs in 95 balls (14x4s, 3x6s) for Maris Stella to post 326 runs, the highest team score of the day. In reply Suban Sanuka also scored a century but lack of support from the rest of the batsmen saw Galahitiyawa Central losing by 73 runs.
Spinner Lahiru Kavinda returned impressive figures 5.5-1-18-5 to set the stage for Sri Devananda to record 72 runs win over Devapathiraja.
Quick fire half centuries by Viduneth Wilson (59 in 42 balls, 10 fours and a six) and Kojitha Himsara (79 in 47 balls, seven fours and five sixes) powered St. Benedict’s to a crushing nine wicket win over Henegama Central as the home team cruised to 161 runs in 17 overs.
While Royal had Bulan Weeratunga coming up with all-round performances to beat Isipatana at BRC ground, S. Thomas’ romped to massive 173 runs victory over St. John’s, Panadura.
Meanwhile Sahan Divyanjana scored an unbeaten century for Taxila to set the stage for a 143 run victory over Dharmapala.
Maris Stella beat Galahitiyawa Central by 73 runs at Godigamuwa
326 for 7 in 49 overs (Sadew Rathnayake 47, Shane Wijesinghe 58, Kaveen Fernando 108, Rahumath Deen 49; Suban Sanuka 3/71, Pamoth Laksen 2/47)
253 all out in 47.4 overs (Pramoth Laksen 31, Suban Sanuka 109, Eshan Sayuranga 30; Mineth Fernando 3/30, Navindu Wijesuriya 3/60)
St. Aloysius’ beat Mahinda
by one wicket at Galle
205 for 9 in 50 overs (Dhanuja Induwara 25, Dinura Kalupahana 45, Pramesh Madubashana 43; Bashana de Silva 5/33, Vishwa Indunil 2/38)
206 for 9 in 49.2 overs (Dilshan Kavinda 28, Maneth Yeran 21, Bashana de Silva 67n.o., Dineth Nimsara 31; Kaveen Rukshan 2/36, Tharusha Dilshan 2/31)
Royal beat Isipatana by 44 runs at BRC
211 for 9 in 50 overs (Sineth Jayawardana 26, Hiruna Ranawaka 28, Venusha Akash 60, Bulan Weeratunga 29, Sandesh Ramanayake 24; Kevin Samuel 2/40, Buddhika Rathnayake 3/36)
167 all out in 43.1 overs (Tharusha Silva 30, Naveen Kanishka 28, Yasith Kalupahana 25, Yuneth Vindiya 38; Bulan Weeratunga 3/41, Ovina Ambanpola 3/17)
S. Thomas’ beat St. John’s by 173 runs at Panadura
241 for 9 in 50 overs (Senadhi Bulankulame 56, Thisen Ehaliyagoda54, Mahith Perera 29, Yumal Bollegala 34, Ashen Perera 26n.o.; Nimesh Ariyatunga 3/55, Ravindu Karunarathne 3/46)
68 all out in 23.3 overs (Akash Fernando 3/30, Nathan Caldera 5/19, Rajindu Tilakaratne 2/05)
St. Benedict’s beat Henegama Central by nine wickets at Kotahena
157 all out in 46.2 overs (Mandeepa Nimsara 51, Mithila Vishwajith 31; Hasanga Nanayakkara 2/29, Shenel Samarathunga 2/37, Naviru Adithya 3/26)
161 for 1 in 16.4 overs (Viduneth Wilson 59, Kojitha Himsara 79n.o.)
Taxila beat Dharmapala by 143 runs
265 for7 in 50 overs (Sahan Divyanjana 122n.o, Charith Harshana 22, Chirantha Dewruwan 36n.o.; Sithum Chamalka 2/30)
122 all out in 40.5 overs (Praveen Kumarapperuma 35, Sahan Lithmina 34; Tharuka Senitha 4/19, Chirantha Dewruwan 3/15)
Sri Devananda beat Devapathiraja by 72 runs at Ratgama
183 all out in 47.4 overs (Mayura Malshan 51, Rasindu Kumara 30, Mithila Achinthaka 37; Irushka Thimira 4/25)
111 all out in 31.5 overs (Sandaru Theekshana 48; Wanith de Silva 2/17, Lahiru Kavinda 5/18)
St. Mary’s beat Vidyartha by
one wicket at Kegalle
112 all out in 28.4 overs (Bashitha Keshan 33; Lakmal Wimalarathna 2/24, Madushan K Arachchi 3/06, Sampath Madushanka 2/27, Themiya Nilakshan 2/05)
115 for 9 in 40.2 overs (Madushan K Arachchi 33; Anishka Gunaratne 5/23, Gihan Bandara 2/20)
Chamari helps Sri Lanka secure Commonwealth Games T20 spot
Captain Chamari Athapaththu produced a superb all-round effort to help Sri Lanka score a fine 22-run victory over Bangladesh and win the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
The last match of the five-team tournament, played to decide the final qualifying spot at this year’s Commonwealth Games, saw Athapaththu score 48 runs to propel Sri Lanka to 136 for six before returning figures of three for 17 to restrict Bangladesh to 114 for five.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will announce the cricket line-up in due course, once Sri Lanka are officially confirmed as the eighth team in Birmingham, joining Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa, who have already qualified for the Games.
Athapaththu did everything right yesterday right from winning the toss in the crucial fixture.
Electing to bat, Sri Lanka were kept quiet by opening bowlers Salma Khatun and Soraya Azmim in the first few overs. Azmim was rewarded for consistently hitting hard lengths when Vishmi Gunaratne lobbed her to Fargana Hoque at mid-off to leave Sri Lanka at 14 for one in the fourth over.
A few balls later, Athapaththu slashed Azmim over the infield for four before unleashing a barrage of sweep shots against Bangladesh’s spinners, two of which cleared the ropes for six.
Off-spinner Salma Khatun, the only bowler up to that point to keep Athapaththu in check, was brought back into the attack. She responded by trapping Hasini Perera plumb in front with the score 61 for two in the ninth over.
Athapaththu muscled Rumana over extra cover for six as she approached what could have been her third half-century of the tournament. However, she missed out on her fifty when she tried to repeat the shot, only managing an edge through to Shamima Sultana behind the stumps.
Unsurprisingly, the fall of Athapaththu’s wicket allowed Bangladesh’s spinners to claw back before Nilakshi de Silva and Anushka Sanjeewani helped Sri Lanka accumulate 42 runs in the last five overs to take the score to 136 for six.
In reply, Bangladesh benefitted from a dropped catch and four overthrows in the first couple of overs. Shamima Sultana was caught in the circle by Udeshika Prabodhani off the bowling of Ama Kanchana to leave Bangladesh at 18 for one in the third over.
However, left-handed opener Murshida Khatun continued her fine form by clearing the infield for boundaries on three occasions during a Powerplay that fetched Bangladesh 46 runs.
“I wanted to bat through, but I’m reasonably happy with the start I got today, giving a platform for the other players to compile a challenging total,” she said.
136/6 in 20 Overs
Bangladesh 114/5 in 20 Overs.
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