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SLSCA to seek permission to commence Under-19 cricket in March



The tournament committee of the SLSCA met over the weekend to decide ways of bringing schools cricket back to life after it was interrupted in the midst of the peak season in March last year.

by Reemus Fernando

Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association has decided to seek permission from the Ministry of Education to conduct a limited overs tournament in March for the Under-19 age category as the premier school sports association prepares to end the long hiatus due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The tournament committee of the SLSCA met over the weekend to decide ways of bringing the sport back to life after it was interrupted in the midst of the peak season in March last year.

“We have to set the right atmosphere to form a team for the 2022 ICC Youth World Cup for which we will have only months if it takes place according to schedule. So we decided to ask for permission to conduct a limited overs tournament for the Under-19 age category,” said J.A.K.S. Indrajith the secretary of the SLSCA.

The tournament committee is looking at the possibility of conducting the Under-19 tournament from March 20 to April 30, either side of April holidays.

“There will not be promotions or demotions for this tournament. This is just a warm up tournament to get junior cricketers back on track.”

The tournament will be vital for those seeking selections to Sri Lanka Under-19 pools with the next ICC Youth World Cup scheduled to be held in early 2022. Generally the ICC Youth World Cups are held in January and February.

The SLSCA’s plan is to limit the first round to just five matches for one team and conclude that round within 20 days. The top teams selected from the first round will play a knockout round. The final phase of the tournament will be played after New Year holidays.

Indrajith said that the SLSCA was looking at the possibility of conducting a girls’ Under-19 tournament as well.

The possibilities of starting the Under-15 and 17 tournaments will be looked into after reviewing the success of the Under-19 tournament.

“Generally the Under-15 and 17 tournaments start in the months of May and June. The success of the Under-19 tournament will help us start those tournaments as well. Students missed lot of time on their education last year. That is something that will be given consideration when starting sports activities in the junior category,” said Indrajith.

Schools cricket, like all other sports activities, came to a halt in March last year when the Under-19 tournament was reaching the final stage due to the pandemic. There were requests to conclude the stalled tournaments when the number of Covid 19 positive cases dropped as the interruption impacted teams seeking promotions to higher Divisions. Efforts by the SLSCA to recommence cricket last year found futile as the Ministry of Education did not grant permission to conduct sports events for school children.

However, the tournaments which were not concluded last year will not recommence. A number of annual Big Matches were also not held last year.

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Eight Sri Lanka cricketers fail fitness tests



Avishka Fernando has failed a second fitness test inside ten days.

By Rex Clementine

Sri Lanka Cricket has issued an ultimatum to its contracted players after eight of them failed a fitness test in Colombo. A pool of 20 shortlisted players for the upcoming tour of West Indies underwent fitness tests in Colombo and eight of them did poorly failing the tests. The list includes several permanent members in the side and some senior players.

The players have now been given an ultimatum to get their act together before another fitness test on February 3rd. If they failed the second fitness test, they will be ineligible for selection for the tour of West Indies. Sri Lanka will play two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s in the Caribbean.  

Fitness has been a growing concern within the team and Head Coach Mickey Arthur has demanded excellence in this aspect. Opening batsman Avishka Fernando was sent home from Galle lead up to the Test series against England after he failed the fitness test. It is believed that Fernando had failed a second fitness test as well conducted yesterday.

It has been argued that players remaining at home during COVID times had resulted in poor fitness levels. But question marks about fitness standards had been there for a while now.

Meanwhile the bio-bubble in Galle has been pruned to 17 players after Sri Lanka Cricket informed team management to send home five players. The bubble will be reduced by a further two on the day of the match making the squad to 15 players, like during pre-Covid days.

The reserves engaging in card games when the batting was collapsing on day one of the Test match had angered fans and former players. It is believed that the drastic measure to send players home was taken as a reaction to it. The players were not in the dressing room when cameras caught them playing cards but in a floor above the dressing room.

Accordingly, Dimuth Karunarante, Kusal Mendis, Nuwana Pradeep, Minod Bhanuka and Lahiru Kumara have been sent home. Karunaratne and Mendis were not involved in card games. The former has been released as he is injured while the latter has been sent to the High Performance Center at RPS to work on technical aspects of the game. Mendis picked up four ducks in a row.

Suranga Lakmal and Oshada Fernando, two players who engaged in card games, have recovered from their injuries and are expected to feature in the second Test match. While Lakmal is expected to share the new ball with Asitha Fernando, Oshada is expected to fill the vacant number three slot.

Niroshan Dickwella will continue to bat at number six but has been asked to provide more consistency.

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Yasitha, Anika looking to add doubles titles



Tennis Nationals 2020

Men’s and women’s singles champions Yasitha de Silva and Anika Seneviratne will look to secure the doubles titles as well as they booked final spots in the respective doubles tournaments of the Tennis Nationals 2020 at the Sri Lanka Tennis Association courts on Monday.

Just a day after winning his first men’s singles national title de Silva paired Sankha Atukorale to beat Nishendiran Sivendran and Michael Siyaguna 9-1, 6-3 in the men’s doubles semi-final. Now they will meet giant killers 16-year old Chathurya Nilaweera and 17-year-old Thehan Wijemanne in today’s final.

Nilaweera and Wijemanne ousted defending champions Sharmal Dissanayake and Rukmal Cooray in the quarter-finals before edging out Dhilvan Herath and Archana Lokuge in a closely contested semi-final. They bounced back from a 5-7 defeat in the first set to secure their final place they scored 6-2, 11-9.

Meanwhile Anika Seneviratne, who won her second women’s singles national title on Sunday, advanced to the women’s doubles final with her sister Alalna as they secured a 6-1, 6-3 win over Oneli Perera and Sethmi Sumanaweera. Seneviratne sisters are the defending champions.

They will meet Janali Manamperi and Savini Jayasuriya in the final. Manamperi and Jayasuriya beat Neyara Weerawansa and Tuvini de Alwis 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in the semis. (RF)

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Dimuth ruled out of second Test  



Dimuth Karunaratne (R) has been ruled out of second Test against England.

Rex Clementine in Galle Fort

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been ruled out of second Test against England that will get underway later this week. The opening batsman missed the first Test as well.

Karunaratne was hit on the hand by Wiaan Mulder during the second Test match at Wanderers leaving him with a fractured left thumb. That didn’t deter him from going onto post a hundred.

However, the  recovery has been slow and Karunaratne who missed the opening Test match has been ruled out of the series as well. He’s expected to return to lead the side for the series against West Indies. Another player who was injured South Africa – Dhananjaya de Silva has  started  rehabilitation. De Silva who tore a thigh muscle is expected to return for West Indies series.

Meanwhile,  Sri Lanka Cricket has expressed dissatisfaction towards team management after several players were seen engaging in card games while wickets were falling in a hurry on the opening day of the Test match. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 135 after winning the toss. Although they bounced back and fought hard over the next three days, they were always catching up having conceded too much advantage to the opposition.

The four players involved in card games are Suranga Lakmal, fellow fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, top order batsman Oshada Fernando and left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

The extended Sri Lanka squad during COVID times contains 22 players and these four players were not in the dressing room when cameras captured them but on a floor above the dressing room.

Five players who are not going to be part of the second Test match will return home today.

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