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Spare the rod and spoil the child  



by Rex Clementine  

There is something special about these cricketing talents from Moratuwa. They tend to throw caution to wind taking on the best of fast bowlers and often fortune favours the brave. Young Avishka Fernando, the latest sensation from St. Sebastian’s College was putting the world’s leading fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Antrich Nortje to sword very much like his predecessors Duleep Mendis and Rumesh Kaluwitharana had done in years gone by.

It was Avishka’s third ODI century. The previous two had come against the West Indies – at Hambantota and during the 2019 World Cup. However, the knock that most talked about is his counterattack on England during the World Cup at Headingley, where Jofra Archer was made to look ordinary.

Avishka has been destined to greatness from the time he piled up runs in the school season. His twin hundreds against England Under-19 helped Sri Lanka Under-19 record a series win in the UK in 2016. Soon, he was drafted into the senior side. Two attributes of Avishka stood out; the shots he plays and the time he has to play them. That flicked six off Kagiso Rabada on Thursday was stunning. There’s little doubt that this boy is Aravinda’s heir.

But Avishka’s success is not instant.  He had to be put through the mill. Hats off to Head Coach Mickey Arthur and then Chairman of Selectors Ashantha De Mel for putting their foot down and demanding that he gets his act together.

Avishka was going to make his Test debut in January when England were in town. But he failed a fitness test. De Mel, who was also the Team Manager, sent Avishka home.  There was a public outcry. Arthur stood firm.  They insisted that there is no coming back unless he met minimum fitness standards.

Damn shame that a 23-year-old could  not run two kilometers in eight minutes and  30 seconds and that his skin folds were high.

But Avishka got his act together. He missed out on three series in a row and having got a clear message he worked on his fitness and fought back to earn his place. His batting on Thursday was so breathtaking. Not only is he clearing the boundary, when bad balls are few and rare, he’s rotating the strike well with quick singles. He’s also converting two into three. For seven years, Sri Lanka have not beaten a team ranked at number five or higher in an ODI series. Avishka has given them new hope.

You wonder whether some of the troublemakers like Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka would have got their act together had they been shown the same firmness. Kusal and Danushka are not bad people. They are immensely talented young athletes who need guidance. But the problem was every time there was a misdemeanour, the authorities turned a blind eye and let them off the hook with a slap on the wrist.

When the bubble was breached in Durham, immediately after the names of Kusal and Danushka were mentioned, you wondered how Avishka missed out on the expedition. These are gentlemen who wine and dine together.

The difference was that having missed out on three tours, Avishka had learned some harsh lessons. He wasn’t willing to take any more risks.  Whereas the other three, particularly Danushka and Kusal, had been treated with kids’ gloves. They should have been taught a golden rule. ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’ Sadly, we have spared the rod and spoilt the children.


Chameera and Hasaranga to miss Oman T-20s due to IPL



by Rex Clementine

Sri Lankan cricketers Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga will miss Sri Lanka’s tour of Oman next month due to their IPL commitments. The two Sri Lankans are with Royal Challengers Bangalore and they have been given clearance to remain with the franchise till 10th October.

Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur told The Island he had no issues in the players missing the two games in Oman.

“It’s a great opportunity for them and I have not raised any objections. They will join the team on the 10th of October and be ready for the first warm-up game on the 12th of October,” Arthur said.

The IPL was suspended in May due to the rise of COVID cases within the bubble with still 31 matches remaining. The tournament will resume in UAE on Sunday and will finish on the 15th of October, just before the ICC T-20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka will play two T-20 Internationals in Oman on the 7th and 9th of October and then travel to UAE to play warm-up games ahead of the World Cup. The two players are expected to join the team in UAE.

RCB have seven games left in the competition and will take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday. Their last league game is on the 8th October.

RCB are currently third in the table with ten points behind Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings.

If they make the plays offs, the tournament will go beyond 10th October. If necessary, RCB will ask clearance from SLC to have them in the franchise set up and the board is unlikely to object as Sri Lanka’s first game in the World Cup is on the 18th of October. The IPL final is scheduled on the 15th of October.

No Sri Lankan had been picked for this year’s IPL at the start of the season, but after Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa and left-arm quick Daniel Sams pulled out, the franchise signed up the two Sri Lankans for the remainder of the competition. Both Chameera and Hasaranga had done well when India visited Colombo for a bilateral series last month.

Meanwhile, SLC has agreed to a request by the national selection panel to carry five additional players to UAE in case of injuries. Kusal Perera is doubtful for the World Cup and Lahiru Madushanka has been ruled out. SLC will bear the additional costs for the extra players.

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CFSL ready to organize its biggest Online Chess Championship 



Western Asian Youth Chess Championship 2021 

Sri Lanka has the luxury of fielding a World Champion in their team when the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka (CFSL) organizes the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships from 18 to 20 September on the Tornelo Platform.

Ferguson High School, Ratnapura player Oshini Devindya Gunawardena, who won the Under-10 title of the FIDE Online Youth Chess Cup 2021 recently, is among some 300 participants fielded by Sri Lanka.

Luxman Wijesuriya, the president of the Chess Federation of Sri Lanka said that his federation was ready to organize the biggest Asian Online Event, the Western Asian Online Youth Chess Championships and the event which is conducted by the Asian Chess Federation has attracted more than 1000 players from 14 Western Asian Countries.

The event open for girls and boys will be held under six age categories, namely, the Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. The Asian Chess Federation has categorized, South Asia, Arab and Russian-speaking countries of Asia as Western Asian Countries. More than 1000 players from the region have fielded their entries to participate in the event.

India has fielded the biggest contingent of 378 players while Sri Lanka field more than 300 players. Iran has entered a team of 161 players. Other countries registered for participation are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Oman, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan and UAE. One player is joining under FIDE, the World Chess Federation flag.

Sri Lanka team includes players who excelled at recently held online competitions and at the CFSL Online Youth Chess Championship 2021.

The Championships will be conducted on the Swiss System in nine rounds, having three games a day. The Newly approved FIDE Online Chess regulations will be followed and the time control will be 15 minutes a side with 10 seconds increment for each and every move played. Only the laptop/desktop computers are allowed to be used while all games will be closely monitored by the arbiters via zoom. Players will be switching on two cameras during the competition. According to CFSL one camera (Webcam) will monitor the player while the other will observe his or her surroundings.

The Virtual Opening Ceremony will be held at 11.00 a.m via Zoom on Saturday. Namal Rajapakse, the Minister of Sports is expected to participate as the Chief Guest with Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nehyan, the President of Asian Chess Federation.

The CFSL will be awarding attractive cash rewards to the Sri Lankan players who win medals of any colour.

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Wheelchair tennis team to leave for World Team Cup on Saturday 



The Sri Lanka Wheelchair Tennis team led by Tokyo Paralympian Suresh Dharmasena will leave for the World Team Cup on Saturday.

The BNP Paribas World Team Cup is the premier team competition for Wheelchair Tennis with four qualifiers and two wildcards joining the top ten teams in the world for the 16 nation competition being held in Sardinia, Italy.

Great Britain, France, Japan, Argentina, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, USA, Korea Rep. and Brazil are the top ten teams.

When the Team Cup qualification event was held in May, Sri Lanka beat Croatia 3-0 in the quarter-finals to be in the last four alongside Israel, Greece and Poland but was beaten by Israel in the semi finals.

In the qualifying event Gamini Dissanayake beat Croatia’s Sven Maretic 6-0, 6–2, while Suresh Dharmasena beat Anto Joskic 6-2, 6-0, before joining Lasantha Ranaweera to oust Anto Joskic and Sven Maretic 6-0, 6-0 in the doubles.

The World Team Cup will be held from October 4-10.

The Sri Lanka Tennis Association said that the team were engaged in final preparations at Green Path, ahead of their departure to Europe. The team comprising of Suresh Dharmasena (ITF Rank #64), DM Gamini (#81) Lasantha Ranaweera (#85) have been undergoing specialist training under coaches Jagath Welikala and Guyanga Weerasekera since July.

The Wheelchair Tennis Program is a project run by the Sri Lanka Tennis Association initiated in 2002. The project is overseen by the President of SLTA Iqbal bin Issack, General Secretary Pradeep Goonasekera, VP Wheelchair Tennis Major General Shiran Abeysekera and principal sponsor Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT).

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