SLC to make cricket most popular sport among girls
Cricket is by far the popular sport among boys’ schools. On the contrary, cricket doesn’t even feature among the top three popular sports among girls’ schools. While netball remains the number one sport among girls at schools, they also give preference to basketball followed by swimming and athletics. Apsari Tillakaratne, the convener of women’s cricket, is on a mission. Her plan is to make cricket the most popular sport in school. That’s one of her long term plans.
Apsari also has short term plans. The foremost of them is to pick a decent team for the upcoming ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in December.
She had her plans set in putting up a formidable outfit for the first ever Under-19 World Cup for girls, but those plans received a severe blow due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Now she goes about her business meticulously, visiting schools and encouraging interested young players.
The support she has received from District and Provincial coaches and the talent search manager of SLC has been enormous. Sri Lanka Schools’ Cricket Association and the Ministry of Education have also provided full support for her efforts.
With December in mind, there is not enough time to put through teams at schools. Instead, her plan has been to encourage individual players and direct them to coaches. District and Provincial Cricket Associations have been tremendous help as Apsari reaches out to outstations where there are many talents.
While doing all these activities, strict health guidelines have been followed as safety of players and coaches is paramount.
Apsari does keep an eye on schools and those who are in-charge of the sport at schools for the enthusiasm they show and if there is keenness, she is happy to invest on those schools as a start.
The interest for women’s cricket has grown by many folds in the last decade and these initiatives will surely help create more awareness.
The interest for cricket among girls has gone through the roof in the last ten years. Regular ICC events in both 50 overs and 20 overs being conducted are one such reason and more importantly these games are televised nowadays.
India has taken a huge lead in promoting women’s cricket given their recent good showing in global events and more girls are taking part in cricket. Sri Lankan girls like Chamari Atapattu making it to the Big Bash League and other televised franchise based events is creating interest and you will see more and more schools taking to the sport.
Cricket among girls at schools has been promoted through Big Matches but as we move forward Apsari sees the need to have regular competition for girls. Parents who are keen to see their children taking part in sports tend to channel their little ones to cricket when they see regular competitions being held.
Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move
by Rex Clementine
After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.
One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.
In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.
Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.
It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup. By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.
It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly. On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.
Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.
In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare). The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.
Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest
Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.
Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.
“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.
Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.
A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.
Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.
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