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Shan: Legend to most; simple brother to me  



Ironically my first association with Shan was not as a teammate but as an opponent in 1983.

Called in by Kandy Sports Club at the end of the school season to take on newly crowned A Division Champions CH in the knockout tournament at Nittawela, whereas a naive schoolboy I was told my task was partly to “take care” of Shan Perera head on, in order to not provide him any space, not realizing there weren’t many takers at Kandy who wanted that job. I can’t remember how many times I “took him on” that wet muddy evening but Kandy ended CH’s campaign that evening for the double.

Not too long after that, I found myself playing in between Simon Hunter and Shan Perera at CH; a baptism into the big league that young rookie players could only dream of. The opportunity although not fully appreciated at the time because it was “normalized” and not seen as me playing with legends, without doubt, accelerated my progress as a player and shaped me into the player I went on to be.

Shan from thereon was an integral part of my life as a fellow teammate, mentor, and big brother; a friendship that went into its fourth decade at the time of his passing.

The last few years of his life were hard on Shan, and to us his band of brothers it was difficult to watch this colossus of a man reduced to the condition his illness had taken him; but Shan fought it without complaint, with his usual inimitable nonchalant style which reflects on the man he was.

But his final years are not what I will remember of Shan. It will only ever be over a decade of watching his prowess on the field at Maitland Crescent, the years playing for our country, and the simple human being he was, irrespective of his superstar status. I saw all of this from the best seat in the house literally right next to him on the field.

It might not be known that Shan originally never picked CH as the default team to play for on his return from the UK in the very late 70s. When looking for a club to play for he was directed to Havelocks, and by a simple twist of fate the cab driver on being asked to take him to the park club mistakenly dropped him off at the steps of the crescent club. And as they say, the rest is history.

Shan went on to become a legend of the game but his talent was not limited to his abilities with the oval-shaped ball. Shan opened the bowling in first-class cricket for a few seasons as well in Sri Lanka and without a day’s proper athletic training turned up for the nationals and came second in the 100 meters losing only to the national sprint record holder at the time. Shan was never ambitious for himself be it anything he did in his life. If he was I am certain he could well have been a triple international for Sri Lanka with the uncanny talent he possessed.

Shan was also not conventional. his legendary “nikan inna bari exercises”; NIBX which he aptly went on to call them were an integral part of the psyche of the CH team during the golden years at the club. How can one forget that in the huddle before the team ran out to battle he would call for a thumb bending exercise drill or call a highly charged testosterone tongue exercise drill which brought out the best “imaginary fantasies” of the youthful boys in the team. To most, they were fun and games but Shan had the ability to relax and bring together the boys and focus us as ONE with these unconventional Shan centric mind games. I never failed a wry smile many moons later when I saw him working as a professional trainer when I passed the club and saw him take many through their paces in the scorching hot sun.

Shan was also a gentle giant. I don’t think I have ever seen Shan lose his temper or get excessively agitated on the field let alone off it. If a teammate irritated him or took the mickey out of him his most irate response would be “umbe amma kalu da“. An irony not lost by the fact, that to the boys at CH he was our “kalu sudda“. Not many understood him in the team and that I would more often than not have to interpret what he said to some of the boys especially to the front five ones. How many times would I have heard him say “A BEE” which he called me all through our association “tell those idiot props” what I said.

A gentle giant story I learned the hard way was when we took on Havelocks in a President’s trophy game. After an altercation I had with Salu Salu he chased me around the park to knock my head in. Shan being the strongest and best physical specimen in the team I ran next to him with the assurance he would protect me; but Shan in his laid back way whistled and said “A BEE just keep running” ……it did not end well for me .

There are many stories about Shan. They are countless and go far beyond the legend he was to all who loved and supported him for the player he was. To us, at the Club he was a big brother and to me, he was literally that, notwithstanding that to many who did not know better thought we were brothers, as they saw an uncanny resemblance in our appearance.

Shan will live forever among his band of brothers at CH. He is one of the greatest who ever walked the hallowed rugby fields of Sri Lanka but to us he is far more than that. He is one of the nicest and most simple guys you would ever meet and know. He was a good friend. He was a brother.

To plagiarize Pepper Potts words to Tony Stark in Marvels End Game.

“Shan; you can rest now”.

  Rohan Abeykoon 

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Sri Lanka collapse and play catch up in Galle



Left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul making a return to Test cricket after five years finished with career best figures of five for 35 as Sri Lanka collapsed from 113 for one to 204 all out in Galle yesterday. Image courtesy: SLC.

Rex Clementine in Galle

A sensational collapse on day two of the second Test saw Sri Lanka play catch up against West Indies here in Galle yesterday. Resuming from the overnight total f 113 for one, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 204, losing six wickets for 35 runs at one stage. West Indies in reply were 69 for one, trailing by 135 runs, when rain stopped play before tea and there was no resumption.

After the openers had added 106 runs on day one, Sri Lanka were in a position to dictate terms to the West Indies. However, they gave the tourists a sniff and now are playing catch up.

There’s been always a concern as to how Sri Lanka will fare against spin when skipper Dimuth Karunaratne doesn’t fire. Most Sri Lankan batsmen seem to rely on the sweep to score off spinners but that could backfire as well. Dimuth has a variety of strokes when tacking spin like the drive, cut, pull and dancing down the track and playing those lofted shots.

Maybe had Dimuth been around for the England series in January, there wouldn’t have been those bitter defeats and a five wicket haul for the little heard Dom Boss. Apparently, he lost his place in Somerset as well.

Dimuth’s dismissal on day one was massive for the West Indies and they kept picking wickets at regular intervals on day two although Pathum Nissanka played well for his 73.

Veerasammy Permaul (not Perumal) had a dream comeback. The left-arm orthodox spinner had last played a Test match six years ago ended with a maiden five wicket haul and career best figures. Fellow left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican claimed four for 50 as all nine Sri Lankan wickets to fall on day two went for left-arm spinners. Roston Chase’s off-spin got rid of captain Dimuth and it was only the fourth instance in West Indies cricket that the spinners had accounted for all ten wickets.

The first two occasions it happened was when ‘those two little pals of mine’ Alf Valentine and Sonny Ramadhin were around in 1950s. The third occasion was early this year in Bangladesh. We all know what happened in between as West Indies dominated world cricket often using five quicks to devastating advantage. Nowadays, they are just down to two quicks. How times have changed.

Not that the Sri Lankan innings was without any spark. Charith Asalanka produced that. Veerasammy had dismissed Nissanka and Dhananjaya de Silva in one over and in walked the debutant and he opened his account in Test cricket with a reverse sweep and even Veerasammy had wry smile on his face.

Angelo Mathews retired with a hamstring injury but came back when the eighth wicket fell. He was struggling to run between the wickets and was dealing with boundaries. He brought up Sri Lanka’s 200 with consecutive sixes off Warrican and was last man out for 29.

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Anjalika wins third singles title at Colombo Championships



Anjalika Kurera won the women’s singles title of the 106th Colombo Championships on Tuesday.(Pic by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

Anjalika Kurera regained the women’s singles title of the Colombo Championships tennis event with a 6-4, 6-0 win in the finals played at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Tuesday.

The Ave Maria Convent, Negombo player beat third seed Neyara Weerawansa to regain the title.

It was her second singles title at the 106th Colombo Championships following the victory in the Under 18 girls’ final a week ago.

In the Under 18 girls’ event Kurera met Weerawansa in the quarter-finals where she scored a 4-1, 4-1 win.

In the women’s singles quarter-finals, Kurera beat Hasali Gajaba 4-1, 4-1, before ousting Tuvini De Alwis 6-1, 6-1 in the semis.

Kurera was the winner of the women’s singles events in 2018 and 2019 before skipping the 2020 edition.

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Sri Lanka Athletics changes dates of youth selection trial  



Madushani Herath competes at the recently held trials.  (Pic by Kamal Wanniarachchi)

Sri Lanka Athletics has decided to advance the Youth Selection trial which was earlier scheduled for February.  The track and field governing body stated that it had decided to conduct the selection trial for Asian Youth Championships on January 23 and 24 at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

Sri Lanka Athletics said that the dates of the selection trial were amended in response to an emergency notice from the Asian Athletics Association on Tuesday morning.

Earlier Sri Lanka Athletics had scheduled the event for February 13 and 14.

The track and field governing body has also opened the event to athletes born in 2004.

Sri Lanka Athletics conducted a youth trial in November as precursor to next year’s Asian Youth Championships selection trials. Several athletes produced notable performances during the two-day event.

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