Selection impasse continues
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Cricket and Ministry of Sports are at daggers drawn and virtually naming of new selectors has become impossible after SLC submitted the same set of names to be reappointed. SLC wants a fresh term for Pramodaya Wickramasinghe under whose tenure the team won the Asia Cup. The Sports Ministry meanwhile wants Wicky gone. Among other things, they aren’t happy that he retained Danushka Gunatilleke on tour after he was injured during the World Cup. The top order batsman brought international shame to the country after his arrest in Sydney. He was charged with sexual assault. In order to break the deadlock, the Sports Ministry now wants to issue a gazette and call for interested former players to apply. The age old practice has been for SLC to advertise for the post and among the applicants, ten names are handpicked and sent to the Sports Ministry, which then chooses five out of those ten names and appoint them as selectors. But it’s all going to change now. The board will no longer have a say on selections. The selectors are answerable to the Ministry of Sports. But the board will pay their salaries. This is not an ideal situation and let’s hope it’s just a one off. SLC should have known better and instead of going on a collision course should have negotiated for a better deal.
Getting selectors to apply is never the ideal thing. Greg Chappell was a selector of Australia for a long period of time and if someone had asked him to apply he would have given that person a piece of his mind. Chappell’s role was a unique one from rest of the panel. He was responsible to alert the selectors on the next biggest talent in the country having scrutinized a player.
Similarly a Sidath Wettimuny, an Aravinda de Silva or a Marvan Atapattu aren’t going to apply for the post of selector. They’ll come and serve if protocols are followed and obviously they would want a free hand. That’s the best way forward too. Surely you don’t want your best brains left behind simply because they didn’t apply for a post. What’s it with Wicky that he wants to hold onto this post so much. He needs to learn to let go. He’s anyway known as someone who’ll not take a backward step but what about little Kalu? Now that’s a man who is very conscious about his reputation. If the system doesn’t want you, then there’s no point in hanging around. Take a break and make a comeback when there’s an opportunity. The present selectors maybe feeling that they have done a good job and need a fresh term. Well it doesn’t always happen that way.
Duleep Mendis is a case in point. Through meticulous planning, he had helped the national team for a maiden Test win in South Africa in 2011. The whole county was excited at what the team had achieved. Yet, two weeks later he was sacked along with captain T.M. Dilshsn and Head Coach Geoff Marsh.
Where have all the mystery bowlers gone?
by Rex Clementine
It’s been a while since a mystery Sri Lankan spinner bamboozled the opposition batsmen. Not just batsmen but coaches went on a frenzy decoding these bowlers while Times of India and Daily Telegraph dedicated headlines praising how well Sri Lanka groomed these sensational talents.
Ajantha Mendis was the last global sensation with bit of mystery as his carrom ball humbled India’s fabulous batting line-up comprising Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly. After him T. M. Dilshan opening the batting with field restrictions on came up with a scoop shot over the head of the wicketkeeper that later became popular as Dilscoop.
Not exactly mystery but Sri Lanka promoting unorthodox style of play totally contrary to the coaching manual had been appreciated and encouraged. Not just Dilshan and Mendis but Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya all broke convention and were extremely successful.
Credit to selectors and captains for encouraging these natural talents and more importantly for the coaches, especially at lower levels, for not sidelining them for being different.
Mendis and Malinga weren’t hits at school cricket and they were more or less groomed after they left school. But Jayasuriya and Murali were entirely different. Thankfully their early coaches did not tinker too much with their style.
Coaches nowadays are too engaged in the sport. They roam around the boundary rope providing ball by ball instructions making the captain redundant. Imagine how much impact they’d be having on players at training and there’s little room for creativity.
Cricket Academies are mushrooming as well with little monitoring done and you sense that not many players with unorthodox style are going to be accepted and as a result succeed. There are few rare talents with unorthodox styles. Some bowlers have copied Lasith Malinga and Matheesha Pathirana has earned an IPL deal even before he’s become a permanent fixture in the Sri Lankan side.
Paul Adams earned a nickname ‘frog in the blender’ for his action and anyone who sees Sri Lankan spinner Kevin Koththigoda from down south will remember the South African wrist spinner.
Funnily Richmond College, Galle seem to be nurturing these special talents and Kamindu Mendis is another player who can make a big impact. He’s nowadays mostly in the Test squad and nearly featured in the second Test in Wellington. He’s there in the team for his batting but he’s ambidextrous and bowls both left-arm spin and off-spin with good accuracy. That makes him an ideal candidate for shorter formats of the game and that’s where he should perhaps focus more at succeeding.
Gateway wins Netball Championship
Gateway College emerged Under 18 Netball Champions at the Inter International School tournament organized by Colombo International School (CIS) played at the Sugadadasa Indoor Stadium.
Gateway College, led by calm and composed Rithika Srikanth, beat Lyceum Wattala 16 -8 in the final after leading 9 – 6 at the breather. Gateway entered the final by beating their counterpart in Kandy 12 -6. At the Group stages, Gateway beat ILMA 16– 5, Lyceum Nugegoda 12 – 1, CIS Colombo 17 – 0 and the British School in Colombo 18 – 0.
Gateway’s young star Shenoshi Abeygunawardena was crowned the Netball Queen and Cloe Thillakaratne was adjudged as the Best Defensive player. Mawrya Liyanage did the vital turnarounds to keep Lyceum Wattala under check and Goal Attack Onadhi Samarakoon was outstanding with her accurate shooting.
2023 Asia Cup likely in Pakistan and one other overseas venue for India games
The 2023 Asia Cup is likely to be played in Pakistan with another overseas venue to host India games. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that both BCCI and PCB, after an initial standoff, are moving swiftly towards brokering a resolution which could have both teams playing their tournament matches against each other outside Pakistan. The overseas venue is not confirmed but the UAE, Oman, Sri Lanka and even England are potential contenders to host five matches including at least two India-Pakistan contests.
India and Pakistan have been grouped together along with a qualifier in the six-nation Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in the first half of September this year and in a 50-over format. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are part of the other group. A total of 13 matches will be played across 13 days including the final. As per the format for the 2022 Asia Cup, the top two teams from each group advance to the Super 4s and the top two teams then contest the final. The possibility of India and Pakistan playing three times remains.
As it stands, a small working group has been formed with the brief of creating a schedule and travel plan agreeable to all participating countries as well as the broadcaster before a final call is taken. The weather is likely to play a key role in determining the second venue outside of Pakistan, though there will be keenness among the Asian venues to host high-profile India-Pakistan games. Temperatures in early September in the UAE usually hover around the 40-degreee centigrade mark, though that has not prevented cricket from being played there: the 2021 IPL was played there late September, but Pakistan have played international matches in early September. In Muscat, Oman’s capital, temperatures remain lower and it did host the first round of the 2021 T20 World Cup. The option for England remains an ambitious one, though the prospect of big crowds in a city like London is likely to be an attractive one.
The option of staging part of the Asia Cup outside Pakistan was agreed in principle as the most favourable by all members of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) when they met last weekend in Dubai, on the sidelines of the ICC’s quarterly board meetings. Having failed to reach a resolution mid-March in Bahrain at the ACC meet, members converged for two further rounds of informal discussions in Dubai. The PCB, which has the hosting rights for the 2023 edition of Asia Cup, was represented by its chair Najam Sethi while the BCCI team comprised its secretary Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal, the IPL governing council chairman.
Last October, the PCB was caught off guard by Shah who said that the 2023 Asia Cup would be held in a “neutral” venue. The PCB, then under Ramiz Raja – Sethi’s predecessor – immediately responded that Pakistan would pull out of the tournament altogether if it was taken out of the country. Sethi reiterated that stance both in the Bahrain and Dubai rounds of discussions. Shah said he had made the statement in his capacity as the ACC president. During the Bahrain meeting, the BCCI pointed out that as hosts it had successfully conducted the 2018 edition of Asia Cup at a neutral venue – in the UAE – after it became clear Pakistan could not travel to India due to the strained political ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Relations continuing as they are, Shah had told the ACC that India wouldn’t be able to travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup. As discussions began in Dubai, he reiterated the position. The PCB did likewise, saying that if the entire tournament was taken out of Pakistan, they would pull out of the event altogether. At one point Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had offered to swap the hosting rights with the PCB, willing to stage the entire tournament, but that was rejected by the PCB.
With a stalemate all too apparent, a second option of splitting the tournament across two countries including Pakistan emerged over the course of informal discussions and was eventually presented and discussed at the formal ACC meeting. It is understood both PCB and BCCI were open to such a plan, subject to details and logistics being worked out that satisfied everyone. The plan will also be taken to their individual governments before a formal schedule is worked out.
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