By A Special Sports Correspondent
Schoolboys have got a great opportunity to get back on to the rugby field after a lapse of nearly two years thanks to the organising of the provincial seven-a-side schools rugby tournaments. The two tournaments held in Colombo and Kandy produced exhilarating rugby. There were enough signs to show that the boys were training under Covid 19 regulations and being true to their commitment to the sport. It was great to see the schoolboys back in action because spectators haven’t witnessed official junior rugby tournaments since 2018.
Seven-a-side rugby demands more understanding between players because this version is faster and quick thinking is needed. But we saw that the players were in no mood to succumb to the pressures caused by a restricted environment and gave all they could. This has been the form in school rugby compared to club and national rugby because you only get to represent the school just for a few selected years and thus the urge to even throw your weight behind the school’s rugby team regardless of how big the challenge is.
In the Western Province tournament played at Reid Avenue St. Peter’s College did very well to beat the stiff resistance put up by S. Thomas’ College and take home the Cup Championship. The Peterites won the final 19-17 in a cliffhanger where both teams were stretched till the final whistle. One of the surprises was Isipatana College having a tough time at the tournament and having to settle for the Shield Championship. They won this segment at the tournament, but unlike in past tournaments failed to produce that high-octane rugby they are known for.
Wesley played well in the Bowl Championship and downed Science College Mount Lavinia in the final. The fast improving D.S Senanayake College got the better of Royal College with a 21-5 win in the Plate Championship final.
The Central Province Sevens, held a week later, showed that school rugby is not only concentrated in Colombo. Trinity College produced thunder throughout the tournament and smashed the daylights out of Kingswood in the Cup Championship final. Ravindu Wickremesinghe (2), Dodanwatte (1), Tevin Karunanayake (1) and Dharmapala punched holes in the Kignswood defence at regular intervals. The final score read 33-7 in favour of Trinity College. Trinity like Royal doesn’t take this version of rugby that seriously, but when it does the school produces a formidable side which is capable of bringing down giants who have made a name in the seven-a-side version of rugby union.
Over the years the Kandy schools have come up in the sport of rugby. If you observe closely outstation schools are better organised to play rugby now and there are enough coaches willing to offer their services. Also there are a few rugby academies contributing to the game and Rugby Promotional Foundation headed by one time SLR employee Ajith Fernando is one that’s in the forefront and much talked about these days. Great work was done by two rugby stalwarts the game produced- Hisham Abdeen and Dilroy Fernando- and the duo also contributed to the game by conducting their rugby academies. We didn’t hear much about these two rugby giants when the pandemic was raging. Coming back to the school rugby season that just began Sri Rahula College beat St. Sylvester’s College in the Shield Competition while Vidyartha College and Dharmaraja College had to settle as winners of the Bowl and Plate Championships respectively.
The Sri Lanka Schools Rugby Football Association (SLSRFA) came out of the shackles placed on them by the pandemic to organise these two tournaments. According to the SLSRFA more such provincial tournaments would be played in North-Western and Southern Provinces in the future to decide the finalists who would contest the all-island final. The two tournaments were sponsored by Dialog Axiata PLC and organised by the SLSRFA.
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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